The Interreligious Communities Project

The Program 

The Interreligious Communities Project (ICP) brings together religious and spiritual communities to visit one another’s sacred spaces, learn about each other, extend hospitality, equip themselves with some of the tools of interfaith dialogue, and build an interfaith community. ICP is designed to engage religious diversity within a safe and tested format, and to widen participation in interreligious activity, education, and skill across each geographic context.

Our Process

In each location where we launch the initiative, we first develop a core team representing 6-10 congregations. This team meets once per month to engage in design and planning activities, and to dialogue on commonalities, values, stereotypes and bias, and community and/or civic life. 

Meanwhile, we engage in the site visits to each other’s sacred spaces. These visits are open to each congregation as well as to the wider public. Each visit is thus more than a ‘tour’ or ‘open house’ and must contain specific elements:

 

1. An architectural tour of the space

2. A brief history of the community’s history

3. An introduction to the religion

4. A sharing from members

5. A dialogue or a shared activity

6. A shared meal 

ICP creates understanding through embodied “spatial” experiences, and it is this sense an entirely new approach to interfaith relatedness. The program’s focus is ultimately to build trust across difference, generate goodwill, and foster a greater sense of community together. The program culminates with the implementation of a joint, interreligious civic action democratically chosen and designed by the core team, but with the support and resources of the full spectrum of our participating congregations.

Proven Results

Post-program interviews reveal participants in the program gain:

  • a wider perspective

  • breakdown of stereotypes

  • loss of defensiveness and fear

  • deep knowledge of difference

  • an overcoming of one's own limitations

  • impeccable, fun experiences

  • relief and satiation of curiosity

  • feelings of solidarity

100% of people who have attended our events state they would like to attend another.

WHAT  PARTICIPANTS  SAY

Venkat Gade

The Chinmaya Saraswati Ashram

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What I found to be of the most value was working as a group to understand our own limitations and fear, and removing the ignorance and understanding of only one worldview. The program helped me progress along these lines.

Dr. Thomas Lovia Brown

The Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ

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I’m fascinated with it. We get a chance to go into another institution to see how it works on the inside. As you look on the inside, you see the souls of people.

Sarah Berry

Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI)

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I can’t believe how amazing the site visits were. They were heads and tails above any other site visits I’ve done.  People really learned. It’s been a pleasure. My daughter came with me to one visit and asked if this program is happening in Boston where she goes to college. I had such a good time this year!

Steven Yates

St. Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church

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I learned a lot of factual mechanical information about others…but even more, just seeing people in the midst of who they are…it’s hard to see someone in one dimension anymore.

KellyAnn Carpentier

Lay Dominican

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I’ve been inspired to try new things like different foods and restaurants since participating in the program. And when I go to those new places, I feel like I know how to relate. I’m no longer fearful of making a mistake. I’m really expanding my possibilities and I’m making a lot of new friends!

Dr. Charles Warner, Sr.

The Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ

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There was a very comfortable feeling from day one. Being black and going into situations where you’re the only one, one always feels like one has to be on the defensive. I never felt that way here. I think I have changed as a result of the program. It’s made me more broad-minded. It’s opened me up to a bigger world. The only missing was that it came to an end so quickly!

Jane Whelan 

Roman Catholic

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I felt relief as it was made possible to really talk about differences. It was an unburdening type of experience.

Jane Bedell

The New Haven Society of Friends

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It was so comforting to have people describe their tradition and then be able to ask questions.  Normally I’d feel rude or like I would offend if I asked questions.  But never here. I think this is because it was built into the structure of the program and that structure was repeated at each place.

Imagine: a world in which religious difference is leverage for peace, a world in which people of all faiths receive each other in warmth and grace; and a world in which the interfaith reservoir of friendship and trust becomes a cradle of mutual understanding, support and protection that stands up to the ills of the world.

 Vanessa Avery