News from Berlin: The House of One

Worried by the constant stream of headlines about conflict between religious and ethnic groups around the world? While we should be concerned about such tragic conflicts, there also is good news popping up around the world. This week, I want to highlight a news story out of Berlin that has received relatively little coverage in American media, beyond the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor. I think it’s a fascinating example of reconciliation work! This week, all three stories I am featuring in Interfaith Peacemakers are about people trying to envision how we might share sacred space.
Daniel Buttry

Berlin, Petrikirche, Ruine

The St. Peter church in Berlin as it stood after extensive damage in World War II. (Photo from German archives, released for public use.)

BERLIN is poised to become the world’s first major city with a house of worship designed to welcome three religions under one roof. The project is called “The House of One.”

This historic structure is to be built on the site of what Germans believe to be Berlin’s first church, the “Petrikirche,” or “St. Peter’s Church,” in English. The Petrikirche dates back to the early 13th century.

The House of One is a dream shared by Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin, Imam Kadir Sanci, and Pastor Gregor Hohberg. This entirely donation-based venture is set to begin building in 2016, provided the funding goal is reached.

The House of One will be home to a synagogue, a mosque, and a church. Though each will have its own section, there will also be a large common area at the core of the structure.

A story in The Washington Post says:
You can live your faith, but also tear down walls,” said Hohberg, 46, who took inspiration for the idea from the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. What once seemed like a pipe dream is now gathering steam. After a sign-off from the city, a design was selected following a major architectural competition. Counting on a newly launched fundraising campaign, organizers hope to break ground within two years. The plan is part of a nascent movement to build innovative religious bridges, including the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha that is seeking to put a church and a mosque on the same site as a recently built synagogue.

The Christian Science Monitor story adds:
“It became clear that we didn’t want to build another church,” said Anna Poeschel, member of the local Protestant community. “We have two big churches in our parish already, the Jewish population has exploded in the last 20 years, and the Muslims in the city need a mosque.”

At the heart of this project is the desire for peace and unity across religious and cultural divides. On the website for the House of one, four core values are listed: nonviolence, solidarity, integrity, and equality.

To support their cause and learn more, check out their website.