National Council of Churches recognizes Omaha interfaith effort

February 9, 2012

[Tri-Faith Initiative] The National Council of Churches of Christ USA will present an award to the Episcopal Tri-Faith Ministries in Omaha, Nebraska on Feb. 9 as an “engaged interfaith community, one of only five awards given this year to U.S. churches.

The Episcopal Tri-Faith Ministries is the new church which will be sited with its Tri-Faith Initiative partners, Temple Israel and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture in a unique campus featuring a synagogue, a church, a mosque and an interfaith center at Sterling Ridge (http://www.sterlingridge.com/), a new development at the former home of the Ironwood golf course.

“We are a congregation engaged in interfaith work because of our partnership with Temple Israel and the AIISC,” said the Rev. Canon Tim Anderson, who leads the new Episcopal congregation. “We are accepting in the name of all the partners in the Tri-Faith Initiative.”

The new church is a project of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, which serves the whole state and has 55 parishes. The Diocese joined the Tri-Faith Initiative in 2006 along with the Jewish and Muslim organizations. “We all trace our religions back the patriarch Abraham.” explained Anderson.

Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel said “I have been amazed and overwhelmed by the strength and leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska. After only five years of dreaming and visioning about the Tri-Faith relationship, we are poised to undertake the construction of a campus, where three faith communities will live in harmony under God’s watching eye.”

“The willingness of the Episcopal Diocese to learn and listen to the other two faiths has played a major role in continuing with this dialogue and advancing the relationship between the members of the three faiths,” said Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, president of the AIISC. “The intentional co-location of these places of worship of the Abrahamic faiths with the Center of Learning (a fourth building serving as an interfaith center) is a feat unheard of in our religious history. It will be a place where we will share our dreams, our hopes and our inspiration in the service of God.”

The award will be presented at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, 285 South 208th St. in Elkhorn, NE, by Marilyn Mecham, executive director of Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska on behalf of the NCCCUSA.  Bishop J. Scott Barker, Rabbi Azriel, and Karim Khayati from the AIISC will speak during the brief ceremony, followed by a dessert reception. The service is open to the public and there is no charge.

The Episcopal Tri-Faith Ministries meets at St. Augustine at 5 p.m. each Sunday for a worship service followed by an informal dinner and program. The weekly programs explore aspects of interfaith dialogue.