"House of One is a symbol for successful dialogue between the religions"
The House of One is much more than a building. Moreover, it is a place where people of different religions and world views meet and exchange ideas with each other. This was demonstrated once again on Monday, 2nd November 2020, by the foundation of the Board of Trustees chaired by the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller. "The House of One is a symbol of tolerance, openness and successful dialogue between the religions located in Berlin," said Müller, who shows enthusiasm towards the project. "With the House of One, Berlin is creating something new and unique. Three important religious communities are building a common house on behalf of all. This is a great opportunity for our city."
The meeting, which was originally planned to take place in the ballroom of the Rotes Rathaus, had to take place virtually due to corona. "Without a nice setting and without reception", as Müller said in his speech. However, the date was not to be postponed.
Dialogue projects, such as the House of One, are urgently needed. Especially in times of attacks on religious institutions like synagogues or murderers who place themselves in a religious context, as in France, are increasing. This view was shared by almost all speakers. Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, could not attend. Instead, he sent a statement to the Board of Trustees: "Inter-religious projects of understanding such as the House of One play an important role. Given the existing differences between the major monotheistic religions, the foundation emphasizes commonalities and creates spaces for understanding. (...) A peaceful, creative coexistence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the middle of Berlin, in the midst of these politically turbulent times. The concept convinced me personally."
Break down prejudices through dialogue
Christian Wulff, former Federal President of Germany, agreed to this: "All my life I have experienced that prejudices were broken down. The House of One offers unique conditions for dialogue". Wulff had been with Pope Francis in Rome two weeks earlier, as he told us, and referred to his recently published encyclical "Fratelli Tutti". This encyclical is about the relationship between the world religions. "Growing up as a Catholic child I had the feeling that God loved Catholics a little more," said Wulff. Much has changed since then. Pope Francis implied that God loves every person, no matter which religion she/he belongs to.
Heiner Koch, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Berlin, puts it differently: "The House of One already carries in its name what Islam, Judaism and Christianity is connected through: the faith in one God. It is an important signal that this is also manifested through the location of the project, in the center of Berlin."
Critical companion and advisory will be the tasks of the Board of Trustees. In addition to regular exchange, there will be annual meetings with thematic focuses. "Shaping the peaceful coexistence of the most diverse people requires enormous efforts," said Pastor Gregor Hohberg. Together with Rabbi Andreas Nachama and Imam Kadir Sanci, he is a member of the presidium of the House of One. Hohberg continued: "That is why we need a broad social support and critical companion and advisory."
Current events in particular show how important exchange and a place for dialogue is. "Every day we receive news of violent acts, such as those currently happening in France. This does not leave us untouched", said Imam Sanci. "We want to act. We cannot do it alone. The founding of the Board of Trustees is an important step to find allies with whom we can continue following the path towards a peaceful society".
Sanci also took a look beyond the borders of Berlin and Germany. For many years the House of One has maintained strong relations with the Central African Republic, where a multi-religious house is also to be built. In Tblissi, the capital of Georgia, the House of One is connected to the multi-religious Peace Cathedral. In Haifa, Israel, a garden of three religions is planned, similar to the idea of House of One. Religious scholar Mouhanad Khorchide pleaded for extending this commitment to the Arab peninsula.
"Dialogue is our central concern," said Rabbi Nachama. The House of One is committed to a culture of non-violence, respect for life and equality. "But the most beautiful thing, perhaps also as an encouragement to others, is that over the years Pastor Hohberg, Imam Sanci and I have become friends, or rather brothers and sisters in faith in the best sense of the word."
Members of the Board of Trustees:
Michael Müller - Governing Mayor of Berlin and Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Gunther Adler - Managing Director Autobahn GmbH des Bundes, former State Sectretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior
Hetty Berg - Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Hartmut Dorgerloh - General Director of the Humboldt-Forum in Berlin
Markus Grübel - Federal Government Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion
Joachim Hake - Director of the Katholische Akademie e.V. in Berlin
Walter Homolka - Rabbi, Professor of Jewish Theology and Rector of the Abraham Geiger Kolleg at the University of Potsdam
Ercan Karakoyun - Chairman of the foundation Dialog und Bildung and co-founder of the foundation House of One.
Mouhanad Khorchide - Professor of Islamic Religious Education Studies and Head of the Center for Islamic Theology at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Ulrich Khuon - Artistic director of the Deutsches Theater Berlin
Heiner Koch - Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Berlin
Hamideh Mohagheghi - Religious scientist and islamic studies at the University of Paderborn and Spokesperson of the Council of Religions, Hanover
Kaweh Niroomand - Spokesperson of the "Initiative Berliner Proficlubs" and member of the comittee of VBKI
Hermann Parzinger - President of the foundation Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Bernd Scherer - Director of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin
Josef Schuster - President of the Central Council of Jews in Deutschland
Eric Schweitzer - Chairman of ALBA Group and President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK)
Emmanuel Sfiatkos - Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Germany and Chairman of the ecumenical Council Berlin-Brandenburg
Christian Stäblein - Bishop of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Schlesische Oberlausitz (EKBO)
Christian Wulff - Former Federal President of Germany