WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The spirit of Christmas came alive on Long Island as a mosque and a church joined to spread holiday cheer to hundreds of members of the Westbury community.

It was an annual show of interfaith unity when the Westbury United Methodist Church partnered with the Islamic Center of
Long Island to celebrate what different faiths have in common, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

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“When we join our Christian brothers and sisters for Christmas, this is a message of love and peace which we should all believe in the universal message,” said Dr. Isma Chaudry of the Islamic Center.

“With so much hate going on and lack of tolerance for people who are different from me or you, it’s so important that we see families getting together who are of different traditions,” said church volunteer Rose Walker.

Together the group served struggling neighbors, delivering a warm welcome and warm meal.

“I think it’s really important that we give back to the community,” said Dr. Uzma Syed.

Uniting as family, worshippers came to practice what each faith preaches.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself, that is what the Lord has called to all the faiths,” said Rev. Dr. Elon Sylvester of the Westbury United Methodist Church. “That is the highest ideal that we aspire to.”

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“My faith also teaches me you take care of your neighbor,” said Imran Pasha.
Islamic Center of Long Island

The event started 15 years ago when church members would deliver turkeys to needy families, but quickly realized many of them didn’t even have kitchens and ovens to prepare a holiday meal.

This year added free health screening as a new form of care.

“We can give them an additional service of getting medically checked out since we have so many physicians in our community,” said Mukheet Ahmed.

Volunteers of all ages were celebrating common ground.

“We don’t see religion as a border, we see it as something that’s there to help,” said volunteer Khavi Ahmed. “I want to create a bond between all faiths. I think when it comes down to it we are all human.”

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This Christmas was the fifth year the Islamic Center has teamed up with the Westby United Methodist Church for this very special day.