North Texas Pastor and Imam Try to Lead By Example

A Dallas pastor and Irving imam are hoping their close friendship and common ground will spur some positivity this season.

Dr. Andy Stoker is the Senior Minister at First United Methodist Church in Dallas. Omar Suleiman is the Imam at Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving.

The pair have been friends for years, but say they have gotten closer since the election.

They speak at each other’s houses of worship, hoping to lead by example, they said.

“We have an opportunity to find deep and lasting relationships with anyone,” Stoker said. “Reaching out and finding ways to be connected with other people really makes us better people.”

“We accept each other in the fullness of our traditions and fullness of our identities,” Suleiman added.

They released a video Thursday afternoon, showing their friendship and faiths, which quickly racked up thousands of views.

 A recent photo of the two in front of First United Methodist Church – both dressed in traditional clothing -- holding a banner that reads, “Stronger Together,” was shared thousands of times.

“People are starved for a good example,” Suleiman said. “You get a few hateful comments, I would say from all sides. From the Islamophobes, from extremists, you get it from all sides who are skeptical what is this all about. Is this some Kumbaya type of thing going on here? Is this real?”

But it’s not always all heavy talk about the man above when the two are together.

“We have an ongoing joke about camel tacos currently,” Stoker said..

“We talk about food a lot,” Suleiman said, laughing.

Two friends, two faiths, one common goal.

“One of positivity. Overwhelming positivity,” Stoker said.

The pair has already been asked to speak together about their efforts in Singapore and Sri Lanka. 

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