The Interreligious Communities Project
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.
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.
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
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.