The Rev. Joel Quie says he looks at the next step in his life sort of like this: He’s standing on a dock that extends out into a lake. He knows the water will be wet, and cool, but many details remain unknown.
“I think the next chapter is, I’ve got to jump in,” he says.
It’s a good bet the next chapter in the life of Quie, who at the end of June is officially retired after leading Prairie Lutheran Church the past 25 years, will involve gathering together people from different backgrounds to, well, mostly talk.
This is what he did June 9 in holding a public dialogue event with Abdulhamid Sheekh, director of the Eden Prairie Islamic Center. It was two longtime coffee buddies sharing, in a friendly and respectful manner before an audience of about 30 persons, observations about their respective heroes, Jesus and Muhammed.
And this is the type of gatherings he’s been thinking about for a long time, and passionately for about the past year. “George Floyd was a spark for this” he said. “It disoriented me. I was shocked, broken.”
The murder of Floyd moved him to demonstrate for racial justice in Washington, D.C. last year and upon his return explore some sort of vigil event that would elevate that theme but also honor the good work of local police officers. After all, as a youngster growing up in the Washington area – his dad, Al, was a U.S. representative and later governor of Minnesota – his childhood offered a close look at social protests and marches around racial equality, the Vietnam Way, and other issues.
Alas, COVID-19 restrictions dampened the vigil plan, but he’s got other ideas percolating as he begins to look at life beyond pastorship. Many involve using the extensive Eden Prairie network he’s built over the last 25 years to challenge and discuss what keeps us apart, even as we share Eden Prairie in our addresses.
His view is that, as diverse as Eden Prairie has become in recent years, “we have siloed very effectively,” gathering only with people who are similar in just about every respect. Let’s break down some of those silos, he reasons.
“My bias is, people are good, so let’s just get people together. Let’s leave the legislative to others.” It’s what he offered in the June 9 dialogue with his friend Abdi: We’re trying to uncover the commonalities, find the differences, “and keep talking,” he said, and also “listen deeply.”
It’s a process that doesn’t always happen, he adds. Maybe it should.
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