Many faiths worship in Northeast Tarrant County Updated: Monday, Jun. 7, 1999 at 23:25 CDT

Many faiths worship in Northeast Tarrant County

By Tara Dooley
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

In Northeast Tarrant County, it's not a church, a synagogue or a mosque where varieties of religious traditions can meet under one roof.

It's Colleyville Community Center, a city-owned building near the center of the Metroplex.

But in that red-brick building, Christian church services, Muslim festivals, Bahai holidays and Jewish holy days are celebrated, said Lin Przybyl, supervisor of the center on Bluebonnet Drive.

There have been weddings at the center that combined Muslim and Sikh traditions, as well as receptions in which everyone observed the same Christian practices. Bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies for boys and girls, respectively, are scheduled through December 2000.

"I suppose there is a real need for this kind of facility," Przybyl said. "I have learned a wealth of information working here."

Northeast Tarrant County offers an abundance of religious customs, though all are not under the same roof, or even within the exact geographical boundaries of the area.

"I think many traditions have to search and seek out a group of like-minded people," said the Rev. Carol Record, minister of Unity Church of Northeast Tarrant County in Grapevine. "One may have to travel some distance, but I believe that most traditions are represented."

Though Christian churches of many denominations often dominate the skylines, representatives of many faiths call the area home. There is a Muslim group that meets in a storefront in Hurst, a Baptist church in Grapevine that attracts up to 7,500 worshipers, and a growing Jewish community that is weighing the benefits of building a synagogue in the area.

"I think there is a lot of acceptance of all traditions in our area," Record said. "I think a lot of it is that in our entire community, many people have relocated from other areas."

In some instances, the variety of denominations working together has produced results that extend beyond places of worship.

GRACE, a Grapevine charity that provides food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance for those in need, began as a coalition of nine Northeast Tarrant churches, said Tricia Wood, executive director. Among the denominations were Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Assembly of God and Baptist, Wood said.

"Our mission statement is that we try to help people in need in the spirit of God's grace," Wood said. "We are rooted in the church community, but it is not tied to one community."

But there also are communities that don't worship in churches. And many of them are growing as the area grows.

About five years ago, a group of Muslim families, tired of the trek to Fort Worth or Arlington for services, opened the Islamic Association of the Mid- Cities in a storefront in Hurst.

"There is plenty of [Muslim] population living in the Mid- Cities," said Rehana Kausar, an anesthesiologist and volunteer religious education teacher at the mosque. "They don't want to go that far."

Now, about 500 adults and children meet in the mosque for religious education and prayer services, Kausar said. Although some services are conducted in the storefront, festivals such as the one that ends the month of fasting for Ramadan sometimes take place at Colleyville Community Center.

Similarly, the Jewish community in Northeast Tarrant County is growing in size and prominence.

About eight months ago, families began gathering for a Community Chavurah, or Community of Friends.

Since then, the group has grown to about 55 member families who have holiday celebrations and social gatherings, also sometimes at Colleyville Community Center.

"We have had such enthusiasm and whole-hearted support that we are exploring the possibility of forming a congregation with a permanent home," said Anna Eisen, one of the founders of Community Chavurah.

Christian denominations also are growing and area cities are welcoming new churches. Southlake soon will welcome its first Presbyterian church.

"We are excited to see all denominations grow and prosper," Record said. "We know that each church attracts to it the members who are right and perfect for that belief."

Tara Dooley, (817) 685-3814

©Copyright 1999, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas
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