Last fall, through Multi-Faith Neighbors Network, we led a retreat for Pastors and Imams in Uzbekistan through funding from the Templeton Religion Trust. Nukus, in the northwestern part of the country, has had its fair share of religious freedom challenges between the Christian and Muslim communities.
The evangelical pastors have not been able to register their churches through the government, so they have technically been illegal. At the MFNN retreat we held in Tashkent, the Imams from Nukus built a trusting friendship with the Evangelical Pastors. Neither group had ever met each other before this retreat. At a dinner one night, the Imams agreed to work to help get the churches registered with the government.
This past month, the first Evangelical church in Nukus was registered with the Uzbekistan government! We want to thank the Imams in Nukus for their hard work in getting them registered as well as applaud the Uzbekistan government for their continued commitment to reform.
In every country we work in, it takes the majority faith to stand up for the rights of the minority faith. This story is one example of what happens when clerics build friendships with each other – they create better communities for everyone.