The following cases were developed as part of the Pluralism Project’s Case Study Initiative. Click here to read more.
Austin, TX: Cultivating Change
Tom Spencer wasn’t looking for a job. Busy with a career in public broadcasting and his award-winning website, “Soul of the Garden,” Spencer paused when he saw the posting for an executive director position at the Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM). That day, in October 2007, “The seed was planted.”While an untraditional candidate, the Board of AAIM seemed thrilled to have Spencer consider the position: with his stylish glasses, gray trimmed hair, and a choker necklace, for over twenty years Spencer had been the face of public broadcasting in Austin. Perhaps he could raise the visibility – and increase the viability – of the struggling organization. During the hiring process, one board member confided: “Tom, you are getting into a lot—a mess, to put it politely. But you are the man for the job. I know you are going to turn it around, and we are not going to let you down.”
Omaha, NE: An Invitation to a Tri-Faith Neighborhood
Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, senior rabbi at Temple Israel, left the meeting at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese feeling disappointed, but not discouraged. He walked with his friend Bob Freeman, a member of Temple Israel, and as they left the Archbishop’s Office and Chancery, they stopped outdoors on the wide sidewalk to discuss the meeting with Archbishop Eldon Curtiss. Curtiss had politely, but firmly, declined their invitation. They understood it was a unique invitation—they had asked him if the Catholic community in Omaha, Nebraska would like to join them in building a tri-faith campus on which a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, and a Muslim mosque would co-locate as neighbors. Their vision was for all three of the religions that traced their roots to Abraham to participate in this “tri-faith” project, and a Muslim group was already committed.