14 December 2011
A mosque organization, a synagogue, and a church, along with an ecumenical organization, have made land purchases big enough to build a neighborhood.
The project is the first in the world in which a church, synagogue and mosque will be set up next to each other on purpose.
Representatives of the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture (AIISC), Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and the Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha today announced that each of the four entities has purchased land at 132nd and Pacific Streets in Omaha. The four parcels, totaling approximately 35 acres, will be the future site of the "Tri-Faith neighborhood" (pictured to the right).
This unique project, the first of its kind in the world, deliberately co-locates a synagogue, church and mosque. (A drawing of the proposed mosque for the site is pictured above.) The site plan also includes aTri-Faith Center with social, educational and conference facilities enabling global study and communication.
Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha is a multi-faith organization including members of the three Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - and is committed to capitalizing on a unique opportunity to facilitate learning, tolerance and respect from intentionally collaborative efforts.
"Experience teaches us that interaction can transform intolerance, ignorance and fear into understanding, respect and trust," said Bob Freeman, Tri-Faith Initiative Board Chairman. "These basic values are shared by the three Abrahamic faiths and are rooted in our Midwestern (American) culture."
Freeman also cited the practical benefits of locating houses of worship near one another.
"You have compatible uses, you have more green space that can be created, you can share parking on your peak use days and you can create outreach opportunities," he said. "The unique circumstance of having a Jewish, and a Christian, and a Muslim place of worship . creates even more interesting possibilities and, of course, challenges, and we look forward to tackling all of those in the coming years."
The Tri-Faith Initiative and the three religious groups each raised funds and purchased their own parcel of land. Additional funds will be raised to underwrite design and construction costs. The first building is expected to be completed in 2013.
Dr. Syed M. Mohiuddin, president of the AIISC, underscored the global urgency of developing interfaith relationships. "In a time when the world is engaged in building walls, this is a celebration of building bridges," he said. "As Holy Quran reminds us of the common bond among us, 'We believe in what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to you [Jews and Christians]. Our God and your God is one and the same: and it is to him we submit (Quran 29:46).'"
John Lehr, president of Temple Israel, remarked, "How serendipitous it is that on the very ground where Omaha's Jews once congregated at the only Country Club that would have us, we are now poised to congregate again, but this time, in a peaceful and beautiful multi-faith neighborhood, linked together by bridges of dialogue and mutual understanding!"
Tim Anderson, Canon for Episcopal Tri-Faith Ministries, commented, "In our baptismal covenant in the Episcopal Church we make the following promises: to seek and serve Christ in all persons; to love our neighbors as ourselves; to strive for justice and peace among all people; and to respect the dignity of every human being. We will now have a unique opportunity to live out those promises with our new Jewish and Muslim neighbors."
"Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha Makes Historic Land Purchase" The Sacramemnto Bee December 13, 2011
"Three Faiths Work Together As Neighbors" KETV 7 December 14, 2011
Christopher Burbach, "Tri-Faith land purchases announced" Omaha.com December 13, 2011