At first glance, Northern Kentucky doesn't appear religiously diverse, with most of the area's non-Christian residents attending worship at synagogues, Hindu temples, Buddhist adherents and other houses of worship on the Ohio side of the river.
But some Northern Kentucky residents want to make talking about Islam and Christianity a regular activity, with a five-part Islam and Christianity dialogue series.
"A lot of people rub shoulders with Muslim people every day but maybe don't realize it," said Bill Lonneman, advancement coordinator for the Franciscans Network, a co-sponsor of the talks. "The Muslim population in Northern Kentucky is growing, just as it is elsewhere."
Lonneman, originally from Northern Kentucky, and Roula Allouch, a Northern Kentucky lawyer and Fort Mitchell resident, met at a Cincinnati dialogue series last fall. The two quickly began organizing a similar event for Northern Kentucky.
"I felt there was a need for an interfaith dialogue," Allouch said. "I thought it was important for people to get to know each other across the faiths.
"I hope we get a good mix of people, interested in learning about Islam," she said. "I hope it's a good opportunity for local Muslims who feel their neighbors or co-workers don't know about their faith to come and share their feelings and invite their friends to come and learn."
The series, co-sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Cincinnati office, will host its first session at Mother of God Church, 119 W. Sixth St., Covington. It begins with an introduction to Islam by Allouch at 2 p.m. April 6. Following a brief talk, the attendees will split into groups of five to seven to discuss the topic and share their thoughts and feelings about Islam and Christianity.
Additional talks will be at 7 p.m. April 8, 15, 22 and 29 at the church.
"The first time we did this series, it really gave people a chance to learn about each other, each others' faith and about important topics - such as women's role in a faith, religious extremism and worship," said Karen Dabdoub, executive director of CAIR's Cincinnati office.