Pastor Bob Woods, left, of First Congregational United Church of Christ, and Carl Temple, stand Tuesday in front of masks collected from Woods’ travels throughout Indonesia and Bali. The two are part of a group of local people interested in learning about the Quran and the Muslim faith.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Pastor Bob Woods, left, of First Congregational United Church of Christ, and Carl Temple, stand Tuesday in front of masks collected from Woods’ travels throughout Indonesia and Bali. The two are part of a group of local people interested in learning about the Quran and the Muslim faith.

Pastor hopes to bring Christianity, Islam together in Quran study group


If you go

What: Quran study group

When: 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays

Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ, 630 Green St

For more information, call 824-6836.

The spiritual books of Christianity and Islam are not competing doctrines of faith, said the Rev. Bob Woods.

Instead the Bible and the Quran are more like close relatives, featuring similar figures, storylines and meanings.

Both begin with biblical figure Abraham, but where the Bible follows the story of Abraham’s son, Isaac, the Quran follows his half brother, Ishmael, ancestor of the prophet Mohammed.

Although they are both an Abrahamic faith, Woods admits there is a lot he doesn’t know about Islam.

And that is something he wants to change in himself and the community.

Woods began a Quran study group that meets from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 630 Green St.

The meetings are free and open to the public.

He said developing a better understanding of the Islamic faith could broaden the community’s tolerance for different belief systems.

“Spiritual books are supposed to bring us up to a level beyond, a higher place,” Woods said. “Instead, these books are used as weapons and to put each other down. It would be good if we could develop more tolerance in this community. (The Quran) is a book of faith, just like the Bible. and we should come together and look at it.”

Woods said he often hears and reads words that elicit hate and fear of people who partake in the Islam faith; mainly that the Quran fosters terrorism and fundamentalism.

Woods, whose wife is from Jakarta, Indonesia, has traveled extensively in his wife’s homeland, which boasts the largest number of Muslims in the world. He said what he leaned about Islam on his Indonesian travels did not surprise him.

“They’re people just like us,” he said. “For the most part, they go about their daily work, meet, pray and study. Most of them were completely awestruck that anyone would consider that terrorism was acceptable.”

Carl Temple, a member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ for four years, joined the study group to expand his knowledge.

On Tuesday, he sat in Woods’ office with several 2,000-page translations of the Quran and the Bible on hand.

Temple and Woods, along with three other people who attended the group’s first meeting March 23, had barely scratched the surface of the Quran’s words and deeper meaning.

“You can’t talk about things you don’t know about,” Temple said. “I’m finding out about all the stuff I’ve heard, about how much if it is fiction and how much is true. I’ve heard that a lot of terrorism comes out of the Quran, but I don’t think that’s true.”

He said the group recently came across the word “jihad,” which connotes hate and violence in the Western world. The two said they have reserved judgment on what many of the verses mean — and the context of “jihad” — until they can have a Muslim help them with their studies.

“We’re beginning to read through it,” Woods said. “But we’re struggling with figuring out how to go about reading it. We’re looking for a Muslim in the area to hopefully come and help read it with us.”

Woods said he has had conversations with Muslims in Denver about speaking in Craig sometime in April.

Woods thinks this interchange of ideas and understanding could lead to a knowledgeable peaceful world. He said the study of the Quran will only deepen his faith, because God wants him to be tolerant of other faiths and understand his neighbor.

He said there are parts of scripture that indicate a need for violence or hate in every religion, including Christianity and Islam.

Still, he said the focus shouldn’t be on certain passages in holy books that can be misconstrued, but on what similarities Muslims and Christians can find and build on.

“It’s human nature,” Woods said. “We think that those that don’t look the same or believe the same things can’t be has good as us. We look for the things that are different instead of what we hold in common. If people would come, that’s if we can get them to come (to the study group), we could get people to understand Islam is just like Christianity. We’re all trying to find salvation and be the best people we can be.”

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793 or


als362 7 years, 1 month ago

While I do believe that there are many devout followers of Islam that have no intention of doing anyone harm.
I also believe that for many others it is just an excuse to commit murder, and terrorism.


onewhocares 7 years, 1 month ago

I think any group of people with differences coming together peacefully is a beautiful thing, because I believe there are many paths to God. But, I think it's also very important for als362 & others that associate the Islam religion with violence, to remember that millions of aboriginal people (including our Native Americans) around the world lived through genocide in the name of Christianity & Catholicism . Islam isn't the only religion that uses its beliefs to justify horrible acts.


newspaper 7 years, 1 month ago

In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child.Consummating the marriage by 9.The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman-his slave and for the purchase of her private parts-to use her as a toy.Even when abused she cannot get a divorce.To prove rape,the woman must have(4)male witnesses.Often after a woman has been raped,she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry.The family has the right to execute her(an honor killing)to restore the honor of the family.Husbands can beat their wives'at will'without saying why.The husband is permitted to have 4 wives & a temporary wife for an hour(prostitute).The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.In the West World(America)Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife cannot get a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her.The goal of radical Islamists is to impose Shariah law on the world,ripping Western law and liberty in two.We generally assume all religions encourage a respect for the dignity of each individual.Islamic law(Sharia)teaches that non-Muslims should be killed.Peace and prosperity for one's children is not as important as assuring that Islamic law rules everywhere.We tend to think that all religions encourage some form of the golden rule, Sharia teaches two systems of ethics-one for Muslims and another for non-Muslims.Building on tribal practices of the seventh century,Sharia encourages the side of humanity that wants to take from and subjugate others.We tend to think in terms of religious people developing a personal understanding of and relationship with God,Sharia executes people who ask questions that could be interpreted as criticism.Islamic scholars agree that those who criticize Islam or choose to stop being Muslim should be executed.In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the U.S. to elect the President by themselves!You can look at how they have taken over Dearborn Mich.It is too bad that so many are disillusioned with life and Christianity to accept Muslims as peaceful.some may be but they have an army that is willing to shed blood in the name of Islam.While America is getting rid of Christianity from all public sites and erasing God from the lives of children,the Muslims are planning a great jihad on America.If you seriously think this is a sister religion to chrisianity then you need to actually read your bible!!! If your wife's country is so peaceful then why is it you didn't remain there?


Frank Estey 7 years, 1 month ago


Bet you a ham sandwich, Pastor Bob does not mention that stuff about female servitude... Only the good stuff.


als362 7 years, 1 month ago

To onewhocares; I am not commenting on other religions or sects. I am commenting on this story and this story only.


onewhocares 7 years, 1 month ago

Dear Newspaper,

You must understand, there's a huge difference between religion and spirituality.... I am extremely spiritual and have a very close love and connection with the Creator, but I do not believe in religion. My love of God is pure, unbiased and as natural as the sun rising everyday. I do not need a man to tell me what to believe or how to believe or to put money in the pot. My church is God's creation, out in nature where I have a direct line to the Creator, pure and simple. No horrible stories of sin and going to hell, or about sacrificing your first born son in the name of God,--- just silence, strength and truth.

Most religions (with the exceptions of a few, such as: Buddhism & the Ba hai) perpetuate this sick fear of God and of dying, including Christianity and I am sure many others. But, I can not speak about the Islamic faith since I have not been to an Islamic church or read its teachings. Unless you are Buddhist or Ba Hai, you can not say one negative thing about other religions, esp. with the blood, sickness and corruption that has occurred courtesy of the Judeo-Christian based religions.


Frank Estey 7 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely, I think we all need to overlook all the bad things about religion and try to seek out the good stuff.


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