After 14 years of dreams, discussion, and hard work, the Tri-Faith Commons is complete.
On Oct. 17, 2020, Tri-Faith Initiative, Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church, and the American Muslim Institute will celebrate the completion of the Tri-Faith Center and the fulfillment of Tri-Faith’s original mission: to intentionally co-locate a synagogue, church, mosque, and interfaith center on one shared commons.
On Oct. 17, Beacon of Hope: Tri-Faith Center Virtual Grand Opening will honor the past, present, and future of Tri-Faith Initiative through a three-part celebration of the Tri-Faith Center as a safe haven for dialogue and friendship-building.
The evening will kick off with tributes and greetings from Tri-Faith supporters, followed by One More Chair, an original performance created by Omaha playwright Beaufield Berry and Omaha filmmaker Tessa Wedberg.
“The performance, One More Chair, is a pandemic-era play that blesses Tri-Faith and serves as a ritual connecting us to each other. It honors Tri-Faith’s co-location of faith communities. It also sets the tone for our transition from focus on bricks-and-mortar to focus on creating lasting relationships and inclusive environments,” says Tri-Faith Executive Director, Wendy Goldberg.
Following the performance, attendees will gather in small groups for “Connecting Conversations” to keep the momentum going.
Beacon of Hope attendees are invited to order a Celebration Box to add to the festivities. These specially curated boxes include a special issue of Omaha Magazine celebrating Tri-Faith, a ceremonial candle, a “pocket blessing,” and a 3D architectural model of the Tri-Faith Commons. A limited number of Patron Celebration Boxes, which include a commemorative Tri-Faith wind chime, are also available. Celebration Boxes can be picked up, delivered, or shipped.
“We’re celebrating all that has been accomplished - all the funders, founders, and friends who have made this dream a reality. But also, we’re looking forward to all we’ll accomplish through this model of coming together,” says Goldberg.
Tri-Faith Board Member Bob Freeman played a central role in Tri-Faith’s origin story, and he eagerly anticipates when the Tri-Faith Center can open to the general public. Tri-Faith Initiative hopes to launch a virtual tour of the Center by the end of the year.
“While members and visitors will always be able to take the pathway or Abraham’s Bridge to meet up with one another at each other’s places of worship, we now have this fourth place as well. The Tri-Faith Center is a crossover space where not only members of the three faith groups can meet up, but a welcome, safe spot for people from the outside who want to learn about Tri-Faith, the history of it and what’s going on today. It’s also a place to come to for all kinds of events and occasions,” says Freeman.
“Each time we met, we practiced the theory of compounding interest,” Goldberg says, “whereby one little task, one little relationship at a time built on the belief that this is possible. All of those things guided the leaders in believing this is possible in small relational increments that build on each other.”
At its core, Tri-Faith is about people.
“The entire dream, from the beginning, was about relationships,” Temple Israel’s Rabbi Emeritus Azriel says. “It’s about talking to each other, arguing, hugging, debating each other. It was never the bricks and mortar. The buildings are merely the stuff above the surface. What’s beneath is what will sustain the enterprise.”
As a result of this intentionality of forging bonds, Freeman says, “We have relationships that are really rooted.”
“The goal is nurturing and taking advantage of the colocation to deepen our understanding of other faith traditions and ultimately our own faith and beliefs,” says Tri-Faith Board Chair Dr. Ali Khan.
“Relationships change things more than theology,” Countryside Community Church’s Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes reminds us.
The Tri-Faith Commons is open to all, and through Beacon of Hope, Tri-Faith hopes to invite the rest of Omaha and the world into their “bold endeavor in America’s heartland.”
“One upside to the current shift toward online programming is that more people than ever before can join Tri-Faith in commemorating this momentous achievement. We hope that supporters of interfaith cooperation from around the world will join us in a toast from home,” says Tri-Faith Communications Director Sierra Salgado Pirigyi.
Beacon of Hope: Tri-Faith Center Virtual Grand Opening is free to attend. The deadline to RSVP is Monday, Oct. 12 at noon.