Sharing Sacred Spaces



The mission of Sacred Space International (SSI) is to encourage interfaith dialogue and explore cultural diversity by sharing sacred space. Founded in 2002 as The Center for Religious Architecture, the organization was a response to the events of September 11th, 2001,  and the national climate of cultural misunderstanding and fear. Believing that architecture could serve as neutral ground for discussion of these newly ignited issues of cultural and religious difference, this secular organization educates on religious traditions within the context of each tradition’s worship space through a carefully designed process that builds relationships and trust across difference. 
SSI operates as an arm of The Parliament of the World’s Religions, which is a global organization promoting interreligious harmony through education, programming, and activism. SSI is expanding its programmatic reach nationally and internationally to explore the architectural implications of sacred space in our increasingly global society. 
Beginning on October 3, 2018, Dixwell Church became part of the first participating eight congregations who opened its doors to extend hospitality to participating congregations and visitors.  Approximately once per month thereafter, until May of 2019, each SSS congregation opened its doors in turn.  
These religious and spiritual communities are coming together in partnership to visit one another’s sacred spaces, learn about other religions, extend hospitality, equip themselves with some of the tools of interfaith dialogue, and build an interfaith community.  The Sharing Sacred Spaces (SSS) program is designed to engage religious diversity within a safe and tested format, and to widen participation in interreligious activity across the Greater New Haven area.   Through these visits to spaces where people pray, worship, engage in religious practices and celebrate life’s events, participants will be invited to listen, learn, and connect with one another.  Each visit will contain specific elements: an architectural /religious tour of the space; an introduction to the religion; sharing from members; a dialogue or a shared activity; and refreshments.  Each visit is thus more than a ‘tour’ or ‘open house’; it is an experience. Sharing sacred spaces is designed to deepen understanding of one another to ultimately build trust, generate goodwill, and foster a greater sense of community together.  SSS’ second iteration in New Haven is also being run in collaboration with Yale Divinity School. Graduate students at Yale are participating with New Haven congregations as an integral part of their own spiritual development and their study on sacred space, sacred architecture, and the world’s religions.                            
Suzanne Morgan, AIA The Parliament of the World’s Religions Sacred Space Ambassador Founder and President of Sacred Space International; Vanessa Avery, PhD Program Director, Sharing Sacred Spaces; Rev. Dirk Ficca Strategic Consultant;  Faezeh Fathizadeh-Administrative Assistant