Monday, June 23, 2014
World's First Church, Mosque, Synagogue in One? Berlin May Be Home to 'House of One'

World's First Church, Mosque, Synagogue in One? Berlin May Be Home to 'House of One'

A project named "The House of One," looking to create the world's first ever church, mosque and synagogue in Berlin, Germany, where people of different faiths can worship under one roof, is currently raising donations.

"Under one roof: one synagogue, one mosque, one church. We want to use these rooms for our own traditions and prayers. And together we want to use the room in the middle for dialogue and discussion and also for people without faith," explained Pastor Gregor Hohberg, a Protestant parish priest, according to a BBC News report.

"The House of One" project envisioned to be built in Berlin, Germany. | (Photo: © KuehnMalvezzi)

"Berlin is a city where people come together from all over the world and we want to give a good example of togetherness."

The building will apparently be built where the first church in Berlin in the 12th Century once stood.

The official website for the project explains that the church, the mosque and the synagogue will all be in separate sections, but linked by a communal room in the center of the building. The room will offer a meeting place where worshippers can come together and learn more about the different religions and each other.

The design for the planned building features a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin, one of the three leaders involved, said that the House of One's planned location at the heart of Berlin is highly significant.

"From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a center is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture," Chorin offered.

The rabbi also said that the different believers can get along with each other: "That there are people within each group who can't is our problem but you have to start somewhere and that's what we are doing."

Imam Kadir Sanci added that the project is "a sign, a signal to the world that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful and not violent".

Architect Wilfried Kuehn explained that each of the separate locations for the different faiths are designed according to their religious beliefs.

"There are for instance two levels in the mosque and the synagogue but there's only one level in the church. There will be an organ in the church. There are places to wash feet in the mosque," Kuehn said.

Earlier in May, the Vatican attempted to clarify what it means for people of different faith to come together for prayer, after Pope Francis invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to come pray with him for peace.

"It should be evident to all who participate that these occasions are moments of being 'together for prayer, but not prayer together," said guidelines for interreligious dialogue published by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

"Being able to pray in common requires a shared understanding of who God is," the document said. "Since religions differ in their understanding of God, 'interreligious prayer' – meaning the joining together in common prayer by followers of various religions – is to be avoided."

Catholic News Service pointed out that the distinction is important to note, as a number of popes in recent times have led interfaith gatherings for peace.

The House of One website, which gives further historical background on the chosen location for the building, envisions that the house "will bring the city's inspiring residents together in a fruitful dialogue that will enrich and expand the minds of all those who participate."

It also features videos of believers from different faiths talking about what they hope will come from the project.


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