Text: Romans 8:12-17
It is being called Berlin’s House of One and the idea came from the Christian side of the triangle. The idea: the world’s first house of prayer for three religions—Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The structure will be built where the first church in Berlin, dating back to the 12th Century, was once situated. Saint Peter’s Church was badly damaged at the end of World War II as the Red Army liberated Berlin. What remained was destroyed in the period after the war by the East German authorities.
Then, six years ago, archaeologists uncovered remains from an ancient graveyard and it was decided that something should be done to resurrect a community and its place of worship. The project, which was initially planned to be a single-faith building, has expanded to the present three-faith plan. Pastor Gregor Hohberg, a Protestant parish priest, says “each faith will keep its distinctive ways within its own areas. Under one roof: one synagogue, one mosque, one church. We want to use these rooms for our own traditions and prayers. And together we want to use the room in the middle for dialogue and discussion and also for people without faith. Berlin is a city where people come together from all over the world and we want to give a good example of togetherness. It was not always the Berlin way.”
The architect, Wilfried Kuehn, points out that each of the three areas in the House will be the same size, but of a different shape. In describing the structure he says:
Each of the singular spaces is designed according to the religious needs, the particularities of each faith. There are for instance two levels in the mosque and the synagogue but there’s only one level in the church. There will be an organ in the church. There are places to wash feet in the mosque.
Kuehn and his team of architects researched designs for the three types of worshipping place and found more similarities than expected. “What’s interesting,” Kuehn says, “is that when you go back a long time, they share a lot of architectural typologies. They are not so different…”