Two Memphians, Dr. Bashar Shala, MD, of the Memphis Islamic Center and a cardiologist who has been practicing in Memphis for the past 17 years, and Rev. Dr. Steve Stone of Heartsong Church, were recently presented with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Worship Medal during ceremonies in New York.
The recognition was for their work to foster unity between the Christian and Islamic communities in Memphis. The story about the friendships they helped build between two churches - one Methodist and one Muslim -- across the street from each other in Cordova, has drawn international attention.
Rev. Dr. Steve Stone
During the award presentation, the audience was told: "In 2008, these places of worship became neighbors in a city where many residents may not have been prepared for a cultural shift. Nevertheless, they welcomed each other with open arms and have created lasting bonds of friendship and solidarity among their congregations. Together, they represent the altruistic and openhearted ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their belief that the values we hold in common are stronger than the differences that set us apart."
The Four Freedoms Awards are presented each year to men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to the principles President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed as essential to democracy in his historic speech to Congress on January 6, 1941: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.