By Jess Hoffert
On Wednesday afternoon, a group of nine Brethren young adults carpooled to Tri-Faith, a spacious campus home to Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church, and American Muslim Institute. The three independent religious communities are all connected by a circular walkway known as Abraham’s Bridge, surrounded by native plants and near a community garden and orchard tended by all three groups. It’s the only place of its kind in the world.
Tri-Faith volunteer Gail Knapp, who regularly attends Temple Israel, provided an enlightening overview at the headquarters of Tri-Faith Initiative, the independent nonprofit group that sparked this endeavor in the early 2000s. “Whenever I step onto this campus, I feel hope,” Knapp said, noting the collective dedication of each faith group to serving the greater community despite–or perhaps because of–unique theologies and practices.
Of the many interfaith events hosted by Tri-Faith, Knapp said some of her favorites are the ones involving the culinary offerings of each community. “The Christians often do hot dogs and fish fries, while the Jews frequently serve bagels and other traditional foods. And then there’s the Muslim community, which has 40 countries represented. Their community potlucks are like a world showcase of food.”
The young adults in attendance asked many questions while finding inspiration in Tri-Faith’s mission to “…cultivate inclusive environments to advance interfaith relationships and understanding.” Tri-Faith Initiative’s vision states: “We envision a world in which differences are honored, similarities are built upon, and everyone belongs.”
After a 90-minute tour of the Tri-Faith headquarters and a walk around Abraham’s Bridge (accompanied by birdsong and a rabbit that hopped among the lush greenery), the group of young adults drove to Modern Love, a celebrated vegan restaurant in the city. While many of the participants didn’t consider themselves connoisseurs of vegan cuisine, everyone approached the meal with open minds. If the “mmms”s and “OMG”s were any indication, nobody regretted this delicious step outside of a few peoples’ comfort zones.
For more information about Tri-Faith Initiative, visit www.trifaith.org.