An Interfaith House of Worship in Berlin
What do a priest, a rabbi, and an imam in Berlin all have in common?
They all want to worship under one roof.
Three religious leaders in Germany, representing Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are spearheading a project to build a proposed shared prayer space, called the House of One, on the now-empty site of a 13th century Berlin church.
The building, whose design incorporates three distinct shapes which are all part of a single structure, will only have one entrance, according to House of One representative Frithjof Timm. Jews, Christians, and Muslims will all enter through the single door, which will lead to a common room. From there, worshipers will choose their destinations.
According to the project’s website, the common room will serve as a meeting space, where followers of the different faiths can come together to “learn more about the religions and each other.”
The House of One is intended to be a place of peace and respect, as well as prayer and learning. Its founding charter lists four main ideological tenets: nonviolence and respect for all life, solidarity, respect and life lived with integrity, and equality. The charter also states that though individual institutions should represent their own religions, none should make claim to exclusivity.
The three men heading the project, which began in 2010, include Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin, Priest Gregor Hohberg, and Imam Kadir Sanci. In a promotional video, the representatives of the three major monotheistic faiths are shown talking, walking, and joking together. All three emphasize the importance of establishing the House of One in the city of Berlin, a place with a checkered past when it comes to religious tolerance.
The site on which the House of One will stand is centuries old, though now it is simply a paved lot. From 1200, when the first Gothic church was built on the site, until the second World War, it was home to a number of churches, each built and torn down in their turn.
“If you would like to see a rabbi, a priest, and an imam under one roof, in a building in which you can find a synagogue, a church, and a mosque, and in its center, a place where the different beliefs come together, [this place is] the House of One in Berlin,” says Chorin in the video.
“It is also wonderful to be able to get to know our friends and neighbors better and to appreciate them,” Sanci adds.
Hohberg sums up the vision of the project, saying, “In the House of One, justice, peace and reconciliation will have a home.”
The project is still raising funds for the construction of the House of One. Their goal is to raise 43 million euros. So far, one million euros have been raised, from over 1,400 individual donors by “selling” bricks for 10 euros each.