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Jakarta Post

Christian community to build house of interfaith dialogue to fight hatred in Berlin

  • Safrin La Batu

    The Jakarta Post

Berlin, Germany   /   Thu, July 19, 2018   /   09:14 am
Christian community to build house of interfaith dialogue to fight hatred in Berlin The Berlin-based Evangelical congregation St. Peter is building the House of One to foster understanding between followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. (The Jakarta Post/Safrin La Batu)

In Germany, followers of minority faiths have often faced the bitter experience of hatred and persecution, none more so than the Jewish community, which suffered under one of the darkest times in the world’s history. Today, Muslims are often portrayed negatively in the media, driven by narratives pushed by right-wing politicians. 

A Christian community, however, has stepped in to eliminate hatred and to educate society about the peaceful nature of religion, particularly Judaism and Islam. The Berlin-based Evangelical congregation St. Peter (also called St. Mary), along with several Jewish organizations, has founded the House of One where members of different faiths can learn to live together and tackle common challenges in the secular society of Germany.

The concept of the House of One is simple. An iconic pavilion will be built in the center of Berlin, with three sections to function as a Church, Mosque and Synagogue, respectively. Each section will be connected to the others by a chamber at the center of the building where inter-religious dialogues can be held.

“We will put them [the three prayer sections] under one roof but not in one room. All three will live together like a community,” Rev. Eric Haussmann, a pastor at St. Peter, said on Wednesday to a group of visiting Indonesian intellectuals hosted by the Goethe Institut.

A map of the House of One in Berlin.A map of the House of One in Berlin. (The Jakarta Post/Safrin La Batu)

Hassmann said the idea behind the House of One was inspired by the work of Marthin Luther King, who delivered an inspiring sermon at St. Peter Church in 1964, when Berlin was still divided into East and West by the Berlin Wall.

The construction of the House of One would begin in October this year and would take around two years to complete, said Hassmann. Its construction is being funded through private donations.

Built around 600 years ago, St. Peter is the oldest church in the city and is one of the few structures remaining from the Middle Ages in the city. It has actively partnered with different faith communities to hold inter-faith dialogues.