We, the leaders of the Willmar Interfaith Network, are writing to you as your friends and neighbors. We are people like you who love our community of Willmar. These are certainly difficult times we are all living in. It is times like these that bring out some of the best in us and some of the worst.

We don’t know about you, but we have struggled to keep putting one foot in front of the other because there is so much that demands our attention. There are so many national and local issues we’re all wrestling with. It is a challenge to have the energy to care for our families and friends and faith communities, to get our heads around best practices to keep us all safe, to navigate what this new school year will look like for the children of our community. Sometimes, it seems like it is enough to just turn inward and care for ourselves and care for those closest to us. But over the last several months, we have seen so many of you in our community turning outward toward your neighbors.

Over the last several months, we have seen so much good happening in our community of Willmar. We have seen people coming together to support for one another. We have seen businesses, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and individuals providing food for hungry people, providing resources for all in need, and so many people striving together to build a community where all are cared for and loved, just as they are.

At the same time, we have also seen some things that should make us pause. We have seen pamphlets being handed out in downtown Willmar disparaging our Muslim sisters and brothers. We have seen acts of intimidation against local citizens because of the color of their skin, because of their faith, and because they are simply trying to make a living and be the people God has made them to be.

When we learn that any of our neighbors are feeling threatened due to acts of intimidation, discrimination, or fear-mongering, we believe it is our duty as citizens of Willmar and as human beings to say something and do something.

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In the coming weeks and months, we know that tensions will be high. As we continue to walk together through a worldwide pandemic, as we inch closer to a national election, and as we look for ways to care for each other in this community, we have a choice to decide what kind of community we will be. Will we be community-based in disunity, fear, and division? Or will we be a community that seeks the good of all our neighbors, whoever they may be, or whatever they may believe in?

In this time, we invite you to keep reaching out and caring for your neighbors, no matter who they are. We in the Willmar Interfaith Network hope you will join us in denouncing hatred and fear right here in Willmar, in speaking up when our sisters and brothers are discriminated against, and in sharing the message that loving our neighbors indeed means loving all our neighbors. We are better together.

Willmar Interfaith Network is a group striving to build community and deepen relationships across faiths in the Willmar area.