Case Studies

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, “SoulThe soul is the inner spirit, the life-essence of a person, regarded in many religious traditions as Divine. In the Hindu tradition, the atman or pure consciousness within is understood to be one with Brahman, the ultimate reality that pervades the entire... 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.”

Case A: Cultivating Change [.pdf]
Case B: Cultivating Change [.pdf]


Omaha, NE: An Invitation to a Tri-Faith Neighborhood

RabbiRabbi means “my master,” an authorized teacher or master of the Torah and the classical Jewish tradition. After the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people in exile, the role of the rabbi became very important in gat... Aryeh Azriel, senior rabbiRebbe is the title of the spiritual leader of the Hasidim, the pietist Jewish movement which began in 18th century Poland and continues today, with its honoring of holy teachers and its emphasis on prayer and devotion. at TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... IsraelLiterally “Wrestler with God”, Israel is the name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob and came to refer to the entire nation, bound in an eternal covenant to God. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the continuation of the ancien..., 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 ArchbishopAn archbishop is a bishop with authority over a particularly large or important diocese. 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 synagogueSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but ..., a Christian churchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., and a Muslim mosqueMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... would co-locate as neighbors. Their vision was for all three of the religions that traced their roots to AbrahamAbraham is the patriarch, acknowledged as the father of the lineage of faith by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. He is presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE. He is the father of Isaac by Sarah (Genesis 12.25), and the "... to participate in this “tri-faith” project, and a Muslim group was already committed.

Case A: An Invitation to a Tri-Faith Neighborhood [.pdf]
Case B: An Invitation to a Tri-Faith Neighborhood [.pdf]


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