Omaha is the largest city in the Cornhusker State with a population of nearly 409,000. First inhabited by the Omaha and the Ponca nations, the region that came to be known as the “Gateway to the West” attracted European settlers after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and waves of Czech, Jewish, and Mormon immigrants in the early 1900s. After World War I, African-Americans from the American South seeking economic opportunity in the meatpacking industry settled in Omaha. The Hispanic and Latino populations in Omaha have quadrupled in recent decades, securing the places of Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity as the city’s two largest religious groups.
Amid growing religious diversity, innovative interfaith activity is flourishing in the Heartland of America. For more than six years, Omaha’s Project Interfaith has engaged in creative programs, from video interviews to speed dialoguing. The city supports two interfaith community-building organizations, Omaha Together One Community and Neighbors United. Countryside Community Church offers a lecture series, classes, and events through their Center for Faith Studies. Countryside is also among a group of faith communities who established Together, Inc., a food pantry and “homelessness prevention agency.” The future of interfaith relations in Omaha looks promising, as the Tri-Faith Initiative is now developing a multi-faith neighborhood, where a church, mosque, synagogue, and interfaith center will build on common ground.