Vision of Co-Located Synagogue, Church and Mosque to be Fulfilled
OMAHA, Neb., April 14, 2015 —Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha’s vision of intentionally co-locating a synagogue, church and mosque on a collaborative campus is nearing reality. The organization is comprised of members of the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—has announced both the confirmation of the Christian presence and a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Islamic facility on the Tri-Faith campus. This will complete the envisioned tri-faith partnership when they join Temple Israel, constructed in 2013.
“This is one religious interaction that brings people together,” said Bob Freeman, chairman of the Tri-Faith Board of Directors. “It offers a hopeful and specific plan for building long-term collaborative communities.”
Countryside Community Church (United Church of Christ) announced on Sunday that its congregation voted in favor of relocating their church to the Tri-Faith campus, becoming the Christian presence of the Tri-Faith Initiative.
“We have spent many months visioning, discussing, and praying over this decision and as a congregation we have reached the belief that we have been called to relocate our church and to become the Christian presence of the Tri-Faith Initiative,” said Senior Minister Eric Elnes, Countryside Community Church, said.
In 2011, Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha, Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and the American Muslim Institute (AMI, formerly American Institute for Islamic Studies and Culture) purchased a combined 35 acres of land. The Episcopal Diocese originally planned to build a church at the site and subsequently agreed to sell their land to Countryside Community Church upon the congregational vote for relocation.
AMI secured funding for construction of its nondenominational mosque contingent upon a Christian presence. A ceremonial groundbreaking will take place May 21 with construction starting in the fall.
“We look forward to an enduring, mutually respectful partnership,” said Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, founding member and AMI president.
A shared interfaith center will anchor the campus, which will welcome people of all Abrahamic faiths and provide social, educational and conference facilities. A capital campaign is planned to begin immediately.
Tri-Faith Initiative is governed by a local board of directors with representatives from each faith partner and the community. To date all funding supporting the project is from local sources.
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Lecia Brooks, Director of the Civil Rights Museum of Montgomery, Alabama and Outreach Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center will speak on Thursday, January 15, at 7:00 PM as part of the Annual Lecture Series at the Center for Faith Studies at Countryside Community Church. Ms. Brooks’ talk will focus on the current landscapes of extremist activity in America as well as the effective strategies to combat the ever-present threat to return America to a land of intolerance and fear.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling (402) 391-0350, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or at the door the evening of the event. Students with ID are always free.
The event is co-sponsored by Nebraska Families Collaborative, The Tri-Faith Initiative and the Anti-Defamation League.
The Tri-Faith Initiative and the three faith partners, Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture have completed the purchase of four adjacent parcels of land at Sterling Ridge, the former Ironwood Country Club at 132nd and Pacific Streets.
The Tri-Faith development is in the southwest quadrant of the former golf course.
It has been a five year search for a site which could accomodate the three faith groups and space for an interfaith center to serve the wider community.
So far as we know, this is the first development of its kind in the world.
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett and the board of the Bishop Clarkson Episcopal Foundation announce The Rev. Canon Tim Anderson will transition into a new ministry position in January of 2011. Canon Anderson, who has served as the Executive Director of the Bishop Clarkson Episcopal Foundation and Canon for Development for the Diocese of Nebraska the past two and a half years, has accepted the newly created position of Canon for Episcopal Tri-Faith Ministries. This new call will involve all aspects of developing an Episcopal presence on the Tri-Faith Campus located at Sterling Ridge Development on 132nd and Pacific in Omaha.
Canon Anderson has spent his entire ordained ministry in the Diocese of Nebraska, serving four years as Rector of St. Mary’s in Blair and thirteen years as rector of St. Stephen’s, Grand Island. Anderson served four years as Canon to the Ordinary prior to position with the foundation. “I have been involved in the vision of the Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha from its’ inception. I now feel God is calling me to continue the work we began almost five years ago, and help bring this extraordinary dream to fruition”, said Anderson. The vision of the Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha, a separate 501 C3 organization, has been to find property and create a place where an Episcopal Church, a Reformed Jewish Synagogue, a Muslim Mosque, and a Tri-FaithCenter could be co-located.
Now that each of the three Abrahamic faith groups have contracted for land to build their own houses of worship, the work of forming and growing a new Episcopal faith community, that will ultimately be located on the new site, must begin. Bishop Burnett and those who serve on the newly created Episcopal Tri-Faith Advisory Committee felt Canon Anderson had the gifts and skills needed to help the diocese form and grow this new faith community. Anderson will work with others in the diocese to develop worship and programming, as well as oversee fund raising and the eventual construction of a new Episcopal facility.
For five years we have been developing and growing our relationships with members of Temple Israel and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, the other faith partners involved with The Tri-Faith Initiative. The uniqueness of this vision has created excitement not only in our own diocese but across the whole Episcopal Church here and abroad. It is our hope and expectation that many outside of the Diocese of Nebraska will offer support for this important work of building relationships of understanding and respect among Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Canon Anderson‘s ministry the past two years has focused on stewardship and development work across the diocese. A plan is now in place to assure the work that has been accomplished, especially in the areas of the Alleluia Fund, Planned Giving and Legacy Societies, Capital Campaigns, and parish annual offering programs such as Consecration Sunday, will continue to bear fruit.
The Tri-Faith Initiative Board has named Nancy Kirk as the Executive Director for the organization. She will be working on a half-time basis initially to support the Board’s efforts in the areas of fundraising, financial management, volunteer recruitment, programs and general administration. She will also be maintaining the website for the organization.
Nancy brings 20 years experience in non-profit management to the job as well as business experience as the owner of The Kirk Collection, www.kirkcollection.com
, where she is best known as an expert in antique quilts and textiles. She is the author of several books and numerous DVD’s and CD’s in the field.
“I’m honored to be working with this extraordinary project and the Board that has come together to create a vision for interfaith cooperation that will be a model for communities everywhere,” said Ms. Kirk.