Local pastor working to bridge divide between Christians and Muslims

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HARVEST, Ala. — An international foundation that strives to bridge inter-religious gaps released a study showing that Evangelical Christian and Muslim relations is the greatest inter-religious challenge in America today.

Pastor Jason Parks, senior pastor at Refuge Church in Harvest and Athens, has been appointed by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding to assist in improving the relations between these two religious groups — not just here in north Alabama, but throughout the country.

“I think that in our culture today sometimes we criticize what we don’t understand,” Parks said.

While on a religious freedom mission in Azerbaijan he saw inter-religious relationships working well, and it captivated him.

“People that maybe did not believe the same thing, maybe their beliefs were extremely different, but we still want to be friends, and we still want to have a relationship with each other,” he said.

Pastor Parks will help Christian pastors and Muslim imams and their faith communities around the country connect. For example, just this past Sunday, a group of local church leaders went to the Huntsville Islamic Center and gathered with leaders there, asking hard questions and getting to know each other.

“There’s just not a relationship between Muslims and Evangelicals, and we want to try to bridge that gap and try to foster those relationships,” Parks said.

Polls show that there is optimism on both sides of of this religious gap that the divide between Evangelicals and Muslims can be narrowed.

“At the end of the day it’s important that we treat people, like people, and we love them the way our faith says we should,” Parks said.

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