|Interfaith Peace Garden|
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Purpose and Vision
The purpose of the Interfaith Peace Garden, or “the garden” for short, is to serve mutual understanding and peaceful relations among members of diverse faiths and cultures by arousing curiosity and facilitating interaction. The garden is intended to function as a museum, a learning center, a library, an event venue, and a place of worship and reflection. The garden features three main buildings and many symbolic artifacts that represent primarily the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but also other major world faiths such as Buddhism and Hinduism. In its function as a museum the main buildings in the garden will feature artifacts that represent significant events, locations, and persons in the history each faith tradition.
In its function as a learning center, the garden will facilitate a diverse set of learning experiences such as narrated tours, seminars, panels, symposia, and viewing of documentaries. In its function as an event venue, the garden will facilitate group gatherings commemorating significant historic or contemporary occasions, concerts and other performances. Finally, the garden will also be available for those congregations who wish to conduct special worship services. The participating institutions envision the garden facilitating learning experiences and mutually enriching dialogue among members of diverse faiths and cultures including students, professionals, academicians, politicians, civil society leaders, clergy, and lay persons. We envision the garden representing our common hope for peaceful coexistence and mutually respectful relations among major world faiths and cultures. We envision media organizations disseminating the common message of peace on the occasion of this garden and other organizations picking up on this theme to contribute to peace. We envision the garden becoming one of the symbols of Houston, Texas.
The garden was motivated by the desire of the participating institutions to set an inspiring example, a monument for the spirit of peaceful coexistence of major world faiths. In an increasingly diversified and globalized world, interfaith relations remain fragile. The picture that emerges from continuous exposure of the negative events hardly shed light into the common traditional values and meaningfully shared life experiences of people of faith. The garden is intended to help develop a sense of appreciation for one’s own faith as well as one’s neighbors’. The garden brings forth particularities of each featured faith tradition and acknowledges differences that add to the richness of the spiritual belief and practice. Yet, the garden also bears witness that these differences do not have to lead to conflicts. The positive influences in each tradition can be cultivated to represent the best of each faith tradition and turn our world into a “garden” full of different but beautiful flowers.
The initial idea for the garden was proposed by the volunteers of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog (IID). IID is a non-profit educational organization that aims to create opportunities for direct interaction among members of world’s diverse faiths and cultures. Toward this goal IID organizes various types of activities ranging from grass roots to leaders in civil society and government. Example activities include interfaith panels addressing topics of common interest, cultural exchange trips, interfaith dinners, distinguished lectures, family and congregation visits, seminars, symposia, scholarships and sponsorship of college courses addressing interfaith topics. Various educational and interfaith organizations in greater Houston have contributed and continue to be part of the Interfaith Peace Garden project. These include the Center for Faith and Culture at the University of St Thomas, A.D. Bruce Religion Center at the University of Houston.
Funding and How You Can Contribute
The garden is funded entirely by donations of individuals and corporations. Every person, foundation or corporation who share the values and vision that inspired the project are encouraged to contribute. Please mark your donations as “ Interfaith Garden Project” and send them to the Institute of Interfaith Dialog. IID is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization and your donation may be tax exempt under IRS rules. Recognition of special contributions can be arranged. Please contact any of the oversight committee members or IID main office for details.