Updated: February 26, 2021 2:57:22 pm
In the heart of Berlin, a new sacred building is coming up with the aim of bringing Christians, Jews and Muslims to a single place of worship. The foundation stone will be laid on May 27 by people of these faiths. Called the House of One or, colloquially, Churmosquagogue, it incorporates a church, a mosque and a synagogue. A meeting space at the center of the building will be open to people of other faiths and world views as well as the secular urban society. Here’s why the House of One is already one of the most significant historical sites in the world:
A difficult past
The House of One is coming up on the site of the old St Peter’s Church, which was damaged in World War II and completely demolished by the government of East Germany in 1964. The first phase of excavations, which lasted several years, threw up almost 4,000 skeletons. Several archaeological remains from this chapter of history will be preserved in a hall with an eight-meter-high ceiling at the Churmosquagogue. “This square, where the city first came into existence and where its first church stood, is now to be home to the future. From the foundations of the old churches will grow a new place of worship, one that will allow people of different faiths to pray side by side. The people who come here will remain true to their own religion, continue to draw from its power, and engage in peaceable dialogue with one another and with members of the city’s secular population. This house will be home to equality, peace, and reconciliation,” says Rev Gregor Hohberg, a minister working on the House of One.
Behind the scene
The idea for the House of One emerged as a grassroots group of the three religious communities. The original idea came from the Protestant church community, St. Petri-St. Marien, which then joined forces with the Jewish community of Berlin, the rabbinical seminary Abraham-Geiger-Kolleg and the Muslim initiative for dialogue Forum Dialog e.V.
Rabbi Tovia BenChorin, one of the initiators of the project, says that as a Jew, he associated Berlin with memories of pain and deep wounds, “but that is not the end of the story”. “A historical site that has darkness in its past has the potential for peace in its future. The city has also been a place of alternative paths, a place of enlightenment and of the development of Jewish life. For me, Berlin is all about remembrance and rebirth,” he adds.
The Churmosquagogue has been 10 years in the planning and construction is estimated to take four years. The €47m financing is almost completed. The federal government and the state of Berlin have donated €30m for the monument and fundraisers have collected €9m. A campaign was launched around Christmas last year to raise the remaining funds. In 2012, a competition was launched for architects from around the world to design the one-of-a-kind building, “something that no one had ever attempted before”. The monument is being built by Berlin architects Kuehn Malvezzi. “From establishing the best architectural language to setting up foundations that give equal weight to religion and society, our work has provided hope, moving and winning hearts worldwide. We are very grateful for the trust we inspire, which in turn instils in us a sense of responsibility,” says Imam Kadir Sanci.
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