A push to create an interfaith campus in west Omaha soon will take a major step forward.
Countryside Community Church will break ground June 5 on a new church at the Tri-Faith Commons site near 132nd and Pacific Streets.
Countryside will be the Christian presence at the site, which already has a synagogue and a mosque.
“It just feels like a dream coming together,” said Countryside pastor Eric Elnes.
Organizers of the interfaith effort believe that the site might be the only one in the nation where three such congregations are locating at the same place.
Elnes said Countryside hopes to open the 65,000-square-foot church in December 2018 in time for Christmas services.
The Jewish component of the campus, Temple Israel, became the first active facility of Tri-Faith Commons when it moved into its new synagogue there in 2013. The mosque is nearing completion. It will be open for prayer this week, in time for the start of Ramadan, and all construction is expected to be complete by June.
Countryside has been at its current location at 88th and Pacific Streets for more than 60 years, and some members have said the congregation’s decision to move was a tough one.
But Elnes said the move not only lets the congregation become part of the interfaith site, but also provided the church with more usable space.
Rick MacInnes, chairman of Countryside’s relocation committee, said the new church will have more and better space for youth ministry, food pantry and other services.
The church also will have space for music rehearsal, classrooms, meeting rooms and a coffee shop.
Pews in the worship space will be in a U-shaped configuration, so that the pastor will be surrounded on three sides by the congregation.
The church’s exterior will feature hand-made terra cotta tiles that are meant to symbolize the congregation’s connection to the earth. Light-colored metal panels will cover parts of the roof and the church’s tower, symbolizing the sky and the heavens.
The cost of the new church is estimated at $26 million, Elnes said. That figure includes $1.5 million to establish a capital fund to pay for major repairs in the future, he said.
Elnes said fundraising efforts and the sale of Countryside’s existing church will cover construction costs. Architects for the project are Alley Poyner Macchietto of Omaha and Hammel Green & Abrahamson of Minneapolis.
Countryside has sold its current church building to Coram Deo Church for $4.2 million.
Bob Thune, lead pastor at Coram Deo, said his congregation now meets for services at Westside Middle School’s auditorium. The congregation bought Countryside’s building so it could have a permanent home, he said.