House of Hope is a uniquely diverse community, where both Muslim and Christian staff and students study and heal together. Cofounders Milad and Manar Vosgueritchian embrace this diversity as a foundation for peacebuilding and community resilience. Religious holidays from different monotheistic religions are celebrated and students are taught to embrace opportunities for cross-cultural encounter. In 2017 House of Hope distilled their embrace of cultural diversity in an educational program called“Beloved Community”.
The curriculum examines seven universal spiritual themes that are found in the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and also articulated in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Students also learn about Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as examples of non-violence and coexistence. Every classroom receives three twenty minute “Beloved Community” lessons per week.
7 Universal Concepts For Coexistence
- God is love- 1 John 4:16
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
- Love one another- 1 Peter 1:22
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”‘
- Love your neighbor- Matthew 7:12
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
- Forgive each other- Mark 11:25-26
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so
that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. “‘1 “‘
- Pray often- James 4: 8-9
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, your sinners, and purify your hearts, your double-minded.”
- Do good deeds- 3 John 1:11
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
- Give to your neighbor- Matthew 5:42
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
“These seven core concepts are shared by all three of the monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism,” said Milad. “They are principles for humanity, a path of living in peace and harmony with one another. These are the principles of living as a human being who transcends fear and hate.”
Although not a religious school, House of Hope teachers uses Abrahamic scripture to teach children of all faith backgrounds about love and the power of forgiveness. Stories from the Old and New Testament and the Koran, filled with conflict and resolution, teach the students how to express their anger in a healthy way and avoid depression. Scripture models reconciliation, non-violence and communication strategies that give way to tolerance and peace.
“The course emphases the power and beauty found in coexistence and dialogue. We do not judge or condemn Muslims, Jews or Christians,” said Milad.
“Beloved Community” also deepens students understanding of brotherhood and sisterhood with people who do not share the religion of their heritage. “It teaches students how we are created in different colors, cultures, and ethnicities as God’s image for living together. And the course helps them understand that violence brings more violence and it is not the best way to solve conflicts,” said Milad.
“Everyone wants to feel protected and so some build walls and borders to try and create an illusion of safety in separation. This is not the way,” said Milad. “We teach life instead of death, love instead of hate. That all people are different and all people are equal.