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Three faiths consider building one church

Members of Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran congregations have decided to explore the possibility of building a common church and sharing certain ministries.

"People don't like my analogy, but I think of it as a cinema triplex, with common areas and chapels of your choosing," said the Rev. Brian Beno, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

His parish is looking into the possibility with St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church and St. Francis Lutheran Church.

"We can't share Communion, but practically everything else we can do together," said the Rev. Richard Dick of St. Francis.

The building they would share would have separate chapels for services, but include other common areas.

Judith Longdin, director of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Concerns Office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said she believed it was the first time in Wisconsin that churches from three denominations were talking about sharing a building.

The location of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is about 150 years old, is no longer convenient to many church members. St. Bartholomew's, about 100 years old, recently sold its building because there was no room for growth. St. Francis is relatively new and had been meeting at a school.

"This sounded like a real opportunity," Beno said. "And it sure can't hurt to talk."

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