By Adele Peters
December 3, 2015
A church which was built in the middle of Berlin in the 13th century and destroyed in World War II, is likely to be rebuilt as the world’s first all-in-one church-mosque-synagogue, called the House of One.
Though the property belongs to the church, authorities hope to build a sacred spaces for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, rather than just a chapel.
Photo: Idea behind the project is to bring all Muslims, Jews and Christians of the area together. PHOTO: FAST COEXIST
“They had to face the question of what do we do with this ground, and what do we want to give back to the city — what do we need in this time?” says Frithjof Timm, a theological speaker for the House of One.
According to Tim, the idea behind the project was to bring the people of the area together, regardless of their religion.
“The minister had the vision that there could be a table on this former parking lot,” he said. “People from different religions could sit together, and eat together, and be together.”
In order to include as many people as possible in the project, the minister, along with a rabbi and an imam decided to launch a competition to design a building that would simultaneously include sacred spaces for people belonging to all three religions.
Further, the way Tim explained it, the project seemed like a practical decision for several reasons. Berlin, a place where not many religious people exist, the speaker said “We don’t have that much money to keep a new church alive. We don’t have so many Christian people to fill up a new church.”
However, he added, House of One will also serve as a symbol of what Berlin is currently – a city where once Adolf Hitler signed death warrants for 6 million Jews, has now become a city with the fastest-growing Jewish population in the world. Further, he claimed, with the increased number of refugees coming to Germany, it also serves as a home for Muslims.
According to the design of the building, everyone will enter through the same front door and while there is a central common space, there will be three equally sized (but differently shaped) spaces for each religion.
“We have only one entrance in the building,” Timm said. “So everyone who is going to pray—whether Jewish or Muslim or Christian—has to use this one entrance. The entrance leads to the common room, and from the common room there’s a stair going up to the second floor and then you decide which way you go.”
Reports suggest that while some individuals from the Muslim community have opposed the idea, majority of them are in favour of it. A reason for this may be that according to the plan, each of the assigned spaces respects orthodox practices, with a given place to perform ablution in the mosque, Muslims will also have separate spaces for men and women to offer prayers in the synagogue.
“Being in the building doesn’t mean anyone has to change anything about their own faith, Tim said while adding, “If you’re not afraid to look around and see what are the other religions are doing, it can enrich your life and your faith.”
The organisation began collecting funds last year and have so far only raised about €1 million out of €43 million needed (a basic version of the design would cost €10 million).
“We hope this will shine out in the world—that this will go out to the world and be a sign to bring more peace between people,” Timm said. “Especially at this time when war comes from Islamic State, and after what happened in Paris.”
This article originally appeared on Fast coexist.