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Tri-Faith Initiative of Omaha

A model of intentional co-location and active engagement between a synagogue, church, mosque, and interfaith center in America's Heartland.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

We are requesting funds to help support the initial digital programming, following the completion of the Tri-Faith Center, the fourth and final building that will be built on the Tri-Faith Commons. The Tri-Faith Center will be a place to act, learn, and gather... a place of education, research, and communication about this unique and bold experiment in co-living between the three leading Abrahamic faiths.

Using video shorts and audio podcasts, we will promote policies protecting religions and democracies, and unite our diverse voices to challenge extremism. Our educational mission will inform and develop understanding about the history, beliefs, rituals and practices of the leading Abrahamic faiths through curriculum materials, multimedia exhibits, games, films, lectures, and other techniques. We will celebrate religious and cultural differences and our common commitment to justice. Beyond the three founding congregations, we will invite the participation of broader religious communities -- including, Jews, Christians, and Muslims -- both locally, and across the globe. All programs of the Tri-Faith Center will be open to the general public regardless of faith affiliation. And the focus of educational video and audio production through the Bridge Builder support will be for wide public distribution on social media and through the auspices of existing distribution platforms in the religion and interfaith work.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our immediate local beneficiaries are the partners involved in the three faith partner congregations: Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church, and American Muslim Institute. However, our real audience will be wider publics of religious and other concerned actors interested in fostering interfaith cooperation. We are offering a model, a living laboratory of intentional interfaith engagement that will be relevant to national and international audiences, where religious disharmony, discrimination, or strife is destructive. We are establishing a model of peaceful coexistence that we hope will inspire the world. We intend to reach wider publics with a digital video production studio in the new Tri-Faith Center that will produce instructive and exemplary social media savvy content that can be widely distributed.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are the only intentional co-location and co-living and project of this type in the world.

This is a more than $65M project that is a dozen years in the making and only $2M from completion. It is a 38-acre campus with a synagogue, church, and mosque living together in integrated ways to better understand one another and ourselves. We think this investment and process will serve as a beacon to a hurting world. We are particularly interested in the GHR Bridge Builder funding to help actualize the digital storytelling of this great experiment, so that the investment here in America's heartland can inspire those in far-flung places.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Tri-Faith Initiative is made up of three Abrahamic faith groups who have chosen to be in relationship together as neighbors on one campus, committed to practicing respect, acceptance, and trust, and modeling deep interfaith understanding. Our website is http://www.trifaith.org.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The Tri-Faith Initiative started with a conversation between the leaders of Temple Israel and Omaha’s Muslim community when both groups were looking for a new location. Countryside Community Church (UCC) eventually joined Temple Israel and the American Muslim Institute as the Christian partner. After much deliberation and intense conversations, the three faith groups decided to proceed with the audacious idea of building a shared campus and build community in Omaha.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Religious-based tension and conflict has taken countless lives and has had a devastating impact on the planet. We have felt these tensions even within our own community, which has a sizeable immigrant and refugee population.

According to research published in 2014 by Brian Grim in cooperation with the Institute for Economics and Peace, religion is not a single factor in any global conflict and only appears as a joint factor in 40% of conflicts. Religion is often manipulated as a tool in conflicts where other factors (corruption, gender and economic inequality, political instability, etc.) are primary.

Neuroscience now teaches us that one of the best ways to help people overcome their natural and inherent biases toward the other is to have personal experiences of engagement to build empathy (what we are doing on the local level) and offer shining counterexamples and narratives to model what is possible (what we are doing in our digital national and global outreach).

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our three partners are:

•Temple Israel is a local Reform Jewish congregation founded in 1871. Nearly 750 families belong to the congregation, which strives to bridge tradition and modernity linking the community’s rich history with fresh approaches to spirituality.

•Countryside Community Church, United Church of Christ is a local congregation formed in 1949. On April 12, 2015, the congregation voted to become the Christian presence on the Tri-Faith commons. Countryside is an open, inclusive, and affirming family of faith with a long tradition of interfaith collaboration.

•American Muslim Institute (AMI) is a local, autonomous nonprofit organization founded in 2006. AMI’s mission is to promote a better understanding of Islam in the Western world, both within the Muslim and Non-Muslim communities. AMI is a non-denominational mosque and welcomes Muslims from all schools of thought and seeks to affirm the core values of Islam: acceptance, compassion, equality, justice, and peace.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Omaha, Nebraska, is a welcoming community that prides itself on neighborliness. The city also has a good interfaith movement and great philanthropic support of the initial physical build out of our project - The Tri-Faith Initiative.

We have a high voluntarism rate, high engagement rate, and enjoy great support from the wider community. We are trying to become one of the leading places of innovation in interfaith cooperation. A living laboratory that widely tells its stories and findings.

Geographic Focus

We believe this project has worldwide impact. We will be locally rooted, but globally focused.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The Tri-Faith Center, the fourth building on campus, will be the last building constructed and is expected to open its doors in late 2019. We are currently using offices within the University of Nebraska Omaha, where we have a production studio and state of the art facilities for technology and engagement. We need production programming, training, staffing, and distribution support. The head of the videography for the Omaha World Herald is leading our effort in digital storytelling.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

TF fact sheet update 2018-05-15.pdf

Two page overview and fact sheet about the Tri-Faith Initiative

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