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INDEPENDENCE — Two years after Grayson County initially denied the Oracle Institute a special use permit, the interfaith non-profit publishing house and spirituality school was finally able to host a groundbreaking last Friday at its property near Independence, located on a hilltop overlooking the New River.
Its founder, Laura George, filed suit in 2010 against the county when the Grayson Board of Supervisors denied her request. She accused the board of religious discrimination.
Earlier this year, the county reheard the request and granted the permit. George then dropped the lawsuit.
Grayson County Board of Supervisors and county officials were invited to the event, but none showed up. Butch Reeves, mayor of Independence, attended.
By next year, the Oracle Institute hopes to host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Peace Pentagon, a place of interfaith study and worship and a resource center for issues of social justice and conflict resolution, as described by George.
This will be a state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly building project.
The Peace Pentagon has been designed in the shape of a pentacle to represent spiritual unification of the five primary religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
Oracle Institute obtained a grading permit in May to begin site preparation for the center, and it has been working to install the new driveway and parking lot needed for the building.
George said the center has $500,000 to construct the Peace Pentagon, and organizers are writing matching grant applications to obtain the remaining $500,000 from large donors.
“This is a place where people can come together and explore solutions to politics, the economy and religion,” said Steven Grief, emcee of the event. “This is about truth, love and light — a place where people can come together and feel accepted and loved.”
The Rev. John Duvall, a retired Methodist minister, provided the opening multi-faith prayer.
“This is the beginning of something great,” he said.
George said the Oracle Institute was started in response of the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Life has never been the same,” said George, who gave up her job as an attorney to dedicate her time to promoting peace and tolerance.
George, who was raised Catholic, had a Jewish friend and an Muslim friend in school. She said this helped her develop an understanding, respect and appreciation of others with different religions.
The Oracle Institute will host spiritual classes and publish books dedicated to promoting the understanding of religions.
So far, the Oracle Institute has published three books, “Truth,” which discusses the five primary religions; “Love,” which teaches about all aspects of love from different works; and “Trusting Doubt.”
• The Oracle Institute is located at 1990 Battlefield Drive in Independence. For more information, call (276)773-3308, or visit www.theoracleinstitute.org.