Symbols of interfaith progress

Berlin, Omaha and Jerusalem: Who would have guessed it? Religious leaders in all three cities are developing spaces where the three Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can come together for worship. Each will still have its own services and style of worship, but each provides spaces where practitioners of the three traditions can meet, hold events, offer exhibits, and share ideals.

In Berlin, the design and fundraising are well underway for building a "House of One," and those leading the construction have settled on a single structure that provides worship and meeting space for all three faith traditions. Their hope, quite clearly, is to reverse and overturn the heritage of the Holocaust, and to overcome the anti-Muslim immigrant feelings that have grown in recent months with the influx of refugees from war torn areas of the Middle East. Leaders of this group will visit the United States in September.

In Omaha, Neb., a similar interfaith effort is taking shape. Those behind the "Tri-Faith Initiative" plan to build three separate houses of worship with walkways to a "Tri-Faith Center" in the middle. Completion of all three buildings is slated for 2017. Those involved include: the Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church (UCC), and The American Muslim Institute. They have a shared vision: "Our vision is to build bridges of respect, acceptance, and trust. We strive to challenge stereotypes, to learn from each other, and to counter the influence of fear and misunderstanding."

Related: Three congregations come together at Tri-Faith Campus in Omaha (Feb. 24, 2016)

They have also written a shared prayer:

We, the members of the three Abrahamic faiths —

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam —

impelled by visions of human harmony,

wish to share our grand and mutual heritage,

hat is, the belief in, and worship of, One Almighty God.

In Jerusalem, a "tri-faith" city in itself, there are often efforts to bring the three traditions together, even for a short time. But a new -- and potentially significant -- attempt is underway.

Christians, Jews and Muslims will come together for an unprecedented interfaith spiritual gathering in this holy city from Sept. 4-11. The effort is called "Amen – A House of Prayer for All Believers."  One of the leaders, Itay Mautner, said, "We will study, argue -- yes, this is also allowed -- and pray -- together and alone. We will see if it is possible, despite all the corporeal difficulties and earthly obstacles, to create a new reality. ... It is nothing short of a miracle that between four walls, we will inaugurate a temporary home for the three religions that share Jerusalem and for all those who wish to dwell under the wings of the Almighty."

 "Amen" comes at the end of a months-long series of discussions among representatives of the three religions, who cooperated to design a shared house of prayer. The venue, the Jerusalem Music Center at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, will be open from morning to night, with meetings and preparations in Arabic, Hebrew and Coptic from Sept. 4-11.

The interfaith efforts -- all aiming at something more lasting than a single dialogue or conversation -- are symbols of hope in our torn world today.  

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