Breaking faith based barriers

Tri-Faith Initiative instills open-mindeness in community


HAVING FAITH IN EACH OTHER: Members from Tri-Faith’s mosque, synagogue, and church join together to strengthen interfaith relationships and cooperation. The construction of the houses of worship finished in April, 2019, and the founders aim to finish the Tri-Faith Center, the final piece of the initiative, in 2020.

Molly Murch, In-Depth Editor

Centuries of religious war have established the institution as a topic forbidden from family reunions and first dates. However, a recent development in Omaha is working to bridge the gap that sparks such conflict.

The Tri-Faith Initiative, which aims to educate members of the three Abrahamic religions, began in 2006 with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. In 2011 land was purchased to house the three places of worship, and by 2013 both the American Muslim Institute and Temple Israel had finished construction. The project was completed when Countryside Community Church joined, formally opening on April 7. Together the three buildings make up a campus that rests near the corner of 132nd and Pacific St.

The community brings together people of these three faiths, but is open to all, and attracts those young and old, including MN students.

Sophomore Laila Qureishi, who attends the mosque’s youth group, interacts with individuals of all three faiths. Through this, she has gained a better understanding of the reality that we often fail to recognize.

“It’s really helped to make me realize just how similar we all are and that the animosity between the three religions is unnecessary. It’s better for us to work together and recognize that we’re all the same,” Qureishi said.

Individuals of different faiths often lack opportunities to respectfully learn about each other. However, this initiative strives to find ways for them to more easily interact.

Many of these opportunities are targeted towards teenagers like senior Robert Osborne, who practices at Temple Israel, in hopes that younger generations can foster kinder relations.

“Hatred towards others is always based on misinformed teachings. Working together helps to deter that,” Osborne said.

Freshman McKenna Hornacek has also been active in this program. While she is a member of Countryside Community Church, exposure to individuals of the other institutions has opened her eyes and given her a wider view of the world.

“Before we started working with these other groups, I really didn’t know anything about the other religions. By getting to know people from the other groups, I’ve learned more about the other religions,” Hornacek said.

Through the Tri-Faith Initiative, Omaha is working to eliminate religious prejudice and discrimination. Students like senior Zuha Qadeer, who attends the mosque as well, hope that their efforts help to bridge the gap between differing religions.

“I hope that we can find some common ground and not have to fight about the differences, but try to find beauty in how different each religion is,” Qadeer said.

These students are just a handful of young adults working to make our world truly accepting of all. Through their meaningful interactions and open minds, they intend to bring peace and respect to our communities.

“I think that [the Tri-Faith Initiative] really does show that even if you do not necessarily have the same religious beliefs, you can still be friendly and respectful to others,” World Religions teacher David Falke said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to humans treating other humans with respect.”