100: Heartsong Church & The Memphis Islamic Center Welcomes You — Steve Stone & Bashar Shala

This is a story about how two communities are joined together in peace and harmony. 


When Steve Stone, a pastor from Heartsong Church in Memphis, first heard that there was going to be a Memphis Islamic Center built right across the street from him, he felt ‘queasy’. He admits this initial feeling came from fear and ignorance. But instead of going with this instant reaction, he decided to reach out to Bashar Shala, the chairman of the board of trustees for the center, and his community. By welcoming a new neighbor, a deep friendship between the two communities was born.

Key Takeaways:

[4:15] This is a story about new neighbors moving into a neighborhood.

[7:35] Bashar was looking at several properties and locations to set up his community’s mosque.

[10:15] Why did Steve feel ‘queasy’ when he found out a mosque was going to be built across the street from his church?

[14:45] Bashar was worried about how the mosque was going to be received by the local community.

[20:30] Steve and his church reached out to Bashar and his community because they were their neighbors, and they’re suppose to love their neighbors.

[23:55] What did Bashar’s congregation think about Heartsong’s kindness?

[30:45] The best part of this is that both Steve’s and Bashar’s congregation got bigger and bigger.

[31:30] At the end of the day, it’s about developing friendships.

[34:30] A man named ‘Mark’ really struggled with letting Bashar and his congregation into his heart.

[39:45] Steve admits that he’s been on interviews that have been absolutely hateful.

[45:05] Steve and Bashar do not focus on politics or religion. Instead, they focus on their common human humanity; they focus on love and compassion.

[51:05] Bashar believes stories like theirs change bad stereotypes.

[55:05] Bashar and Steve talk about The Friendship Foundation Park.

[1:02:55] The world is fortunate to have leaders like Steve and Bashar who are willing to go through uncomfortable situations in the name of peace and love.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Giving Back Podcast


Heartsong Church

Memphis Islamic Center

Memphis Friendship Foundation


Comments 1

  1. As a partner at Heartsong Church, I was lucky enough to attend the first night our new neighbors shared our sanctuary to celebrate their first Ramadan prayer service at their new location. Heartsong and MIC became instant friends and we’ve shared Thanksgiving Dinners, blood drives, picnics, and many community projects together. We’re friends and neighbors. We respect and love each other because we’ve learned our similarities are greater than our differences. We stand up for and stand by each other.

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