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This page is continuously updated through 2019.
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2020 Program links Thanks for Noticing book
2020 Other Announcements Older Program Reports
2021 Previews pending About CRES participation
 2020 Links to PROGRAMS and REPORTS
Vital ConversationsProgram, 2d Wednesdays 1-2:30 pm
Photos and reports are arranged by month
Coffee, 4th Wednesdays 8 am
Ministry in a Pluralistic World C-RP511 — Vern teaches the graduate course 
     PENDING 2020 Jan 7 – Mar 25 — Mondays 6-9:45pm CT 
     Central Baptist Theological Seminary

KC Interfaith History Project continues 

Lenten Series: When Even Evil Will Ordain the Good -- Mar 5, 12, 19, 26
     Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd

King Holiday Essay — 2018 Jan 15

Table of Faiths  TBA

Independence Day Essay  "Sacred Citizenship"
     from our Archives: The America before Trump  (2-page PDF)

Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner -- 2020 Nov TBA Sunday 4:30
     with the Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award 
     given to TBA Event sponsored by the HeartlandADL


We expect to complete a final first edit of theAl Brooks memoir this year.

King Holiday Essay — 2018 Jan 15 
     Download a PDF of Vern's 2-page summary of the genius of the spiritual approach of Martin Luther King Jr by clicking this link.

Ministry in a Pluralistic World syllabus
     2020 TBA 6-9:45pm CT 

     The graduate credit course C-RP511 is held remotely via Zoom and at
     Central Seminary 6601 Monticello Road, Shawnee, KS 6226-3513.

The course, led by Dr Vern Barnet, explores these questions:

     0. Getting acquainted: Our backgrounds, travel and other experiences, and perspectives as we approach this course. 
     1. What meanings do terms such as belief, dialogue, epiphany, holistic, mission, myth, pilgrimage, religion, ritual, sacred, sacrifice, scripture, secular, spirituality, and worship, have for us and today’s society? 
     2. What attitudes have scholars identified as ways folks approach faith perspectives other than their own?
     3. What does “pluralism” mean? What are its theoretical, practical, and personal meanings? How does it apply to the local community and the “global village”?
     4. Where are we aided and challenged by other traditions? How might our own and other traditions address environmental, personal, and social disorders?

     1. How do sociological, historical, phenomenological, and other methods of studying religions differ, and how do they help us understand another’s faith?
     2. What are the basic structures, texts, facts, practices, and variations of other faiths?
     3. How do faiths compare and contrast?
     4. What is more, and what is less, useful for each of us today?

     1. What are the basic styles and purposes of interfaith engagement? What are the significant interfaith organizations and programs affecting the student’s community? 
     2. How do I discover my community’s faith complexion and my opportunities within it? 
     3. What issues with boundaries arise and how can they be negotiated?
     4. What do we learn about ourselves as we learn about others? Can I be committed to my own faith and respectful and open to others? If so or if not, what does that mean for my ministry?

KC Interfaith History Project continues . . . .

Former CRES Board chair Larry Guillot and former CRES intern, now CRES historian, Geneva Blackmer met with Vern for lunch 2019 Febuary 21 to review progress and plan next steps. Geneva, with both her interfaith experience and library skills, has scoured local and state archives, interviewed folks, and drafted what is even at this stage by far the most complete look at how ecumenical and interfaith activities have developed in the KC region, but the work is ongoing. Visit the KC Interfaith History Project.
     In his 2019 July 25 entry in his “Faith Matters blog, Bill Tammeus about Geneva Blackmer’s book, The Ecumenical and Interfaith History of Greater Kansas City. 
     Bill says, “As Blackmer, a 2016-'17 intern for the Center for Religious Experience and Study who recently accepted a position as program director for the Interfaith Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, notes, ‘If it was ever necessary to designate one city in the United States as the heart of interfaith activity, a very compelling argument could be made for Kansas City.’
     “The booklet is itself an argument for that contention.”
     After several paragraphs discussing some of the content of the book and mentioning several important interfaith organizations, he concludes, “There is, of course, still much to be done to reach the Interfaith Council’s goal of making KC the most religiously welcoming community in the country. But Blackmer’s work is a tribute to how much effort already has gone into achieving that goal.”
     Surely Bill himself is one reason that Kansas City has been more welcoming to interfaith efforts than some places, and Geneva’s outline of Kansas City’s progress can inspire us to move forward.
     Geneva is shown above in a February review session with Larry Guillot who was one of her advisors on the book project.
     Vern says, “Geneva was one of the best things ever to happen to CRES, to interfaith progress in Kansas City, and to me. Her initiative, energy, faithfulness, many diverse skills, and academic competence made her a cherished laborer in the interfaith field here, and — as I know from all the requests for references I’ve received around the country — a much sought-after leader into the future.”

Lenten Series:
When Even Evil Will Ordain the Good 
Mar 5, 12, 19, 26 -- Thursdays, 6pm meal, 6:30 program
Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
4947 NE Chouteau Drive, Kansas City,  MO 64119 -- (816) 452-0745


Using themes from world religions to illumine our own tradition, the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, explores the powerful mysteries of the crucified and resurrected love of our Savior through the texts of sonnets from the "Credo" section his new book, Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire.
      Vern wrote the Wednesday "Faith and Beliefs" column 1994-2012 for The Kansas City Star and has written a dozen essays for the diocesan magazine, Spirit. He founded the Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989. He is a very happy lay Episcopalian.

Mar 8 - The Jesus of History or the Christ of Faith? 
Mar 15 - A Paradox of Salvation 
Mar 22 - The Gospel Theater 
Mar 29 - The Mystic Vision 
Through Eastertide, download the 2017 version of an 8-page study guide in PDF

YouTube video of a 2017 study group at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer reading Sonnet 88

Readings: Sonnet 82; Mar 8: s79; Mar 15: s80 (? s85);  Mar 22: s84; Mar 29: s86 (? s88).

Art to illustrate the themes

Two views of an icon of Christ teaching and Velazquez’s "Christ after 
the Flagellation contemplated by the Christian Soul" Mar 8 and Mar 15

A modern enactment of the crucifixion. Mar 22

Dali's "Last Supper" Mar 29 


2020 TBA 
The 31st anniversary of the founding of 
The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council,
now independent but originally a program of CRES.

Vern Barnet, who founded in the Council in 1989, is Council Convener Emeritus. The Council newsletter has published his brief notes about three milestones in the early history of the Council.


Becoming Nobody
Ram Dass Movie Premiere 
postponed -- expect new date soon
Additional shows: expect new dates soon
Unity Temple on the Plaza

Enjoy this new cinema portrait of a beloved icon's life and teachings. BECOMING NOBODY follows the fascinating journey of Ram Dass — the world renowned sage and guru whose vision transformed hippie America — from his early years as a rock star Harvard psychologist and LSD pioneer to an Eastern holy man who encouraged the world to “be here now.” Dass’s teachings —  shedding one’s ego and one’s sense of self, becoming “one with the universe” — have defined a generation of truth-seekers. His wisdom flows out of this quintessential film portrait, and you are sure to leave this experience with more compassion, and more attentiveness to the moment, than when you arrived.

Historic clips balance an engaging conversation with director Jamie Catto. We come to understand how encrusted roles and habitual disguises become increasingly burdensome. The film captures a loving man full of joy, wit, honesty, and wisdom, at ease in conversation while sharing his considerable pains and pleasures. The life experiences that have freed him from the attachments of his ‘somebody-ness’ have transformed him into the radiant soul who now inspires a new generation.

Presented by the KC Film Forum and co-hosted by CRES, the Open Circle Spiritual Cinema Series, and the Temple Buddhist Center.

Although this event is not sponsored by CRES, we list it since its Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Awardis named for CRES minister emeritus, the founder of the Kansas City Interfaith Council (1989), then a program of CRES.

2019 November TBA Sunday 4 pm
Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner
with the Vern Barnet Interfaith Service Award
this year to TBA


WEDDINGS of all kinds click for information

We can provide a customized ceremony or direct you to a wedding chapel with low-cost package services (flowers, photographer, etc.) 

THANKS to Robert and Shye Reynolds, a CRES fund to assist couples with fees for weddings  has been established, to celebrate their marriage June 19, 2002, on the occasion of their thirteenth anniverary.

see also
our publications page

in progress: KC Star, Many Paths columns and fresh essays:
The Three Families of Faith and the Three Crises of Secularism 
     Many have asked for a compilation of columns Vern wrote for the KC Star, 1994-2012,  and the essays fatured in Many Paths. Here are tentative chapter headings for the selections:
      ? The Three Families of Faith ? Faith and the Arts  ? Science and Religion  ? Teachers of the Spirit ? Ritual and Worship ? Religion and Public Policy ? Specific Faiths (Buddhism, Islam, etc) ? Comparative topics (reincarnation, gods, water, prophets, etc) ? How the column began and ended


If you would
like to engage Vern 
or another member 
of the CRES staff
for a speech, 
a wedding,
a baptism,
or other work
with your organization 
or personally, 
please visit  www.cres.org/work/services.htm or email  vern@cres.org

Having spawned several other organizations,
including the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council,
we continue to offer programs initiated by and through others
but we no longer create our own in order to focus on our unique work.
For interfaith and cultural calendars maintained by other groups, click here.

announcements pending


A Vital Conversation Coffee
Vital Conversations
monthly schedule
2nd Wedneday of the month 1-2:30 pm
MidContinent Public Library Antioch Branch
6060 N Chestnut Ave, Gladstone, MO 64119
(816) 454-1306

You are welcome even if you have not read the book or seen the movie
A Free Monthly Discussion Group Led by David E Nelson
C R E S  senior  associate minister
president, The Human Agenda

“The purpose of a Vital Conversation is not to win an argument,
but to win a friend and advance civilization.” Vern Barnet 

Vital Conversations are intentional gatherings of people to engage 
in dialog that will add value to the participants and to the world. 
In Vital Conversations, we become co-creators of a better community. 
David Nelson
The discussions began May 24, 2002, at the CRES facility
 by examining Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God
Reading is magic and a mysterious activity that feeds the mind, transports the imagination, sooths the soul, and expands life.  It is most often done in solitude and yet connects us to so many others both near us and far from us.  Many readers enjoy the opportunity to share their reading discoveries and to expand from the sharing of others.  Reading is an important aspect of our common humanness.
David E. Nelson
Vital Conv. Coffee
an open exchange of ideas 
with no preset agenda
 4th Wednesday monthly
8 am
Panera Bread
311 NE Englewood Road
Kansas City, MO 64118

2020 Vital Conversations Schedule

to see last year's fascinating programs, click here.

January 8, 2020 — The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among his fellow Africans, she is on the  cusp of womanhood — where greater pain awaits. And so when Ceasar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity. Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era; he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans  to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.  
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February 12 — Taking Civility Out of the Box: The Insanity of Incivility and What Can Be Done About It by  Barbara Mason Condra. These are not easy times for important conversations because it is difficult to converse when there is a lack of civility. Barbara addresses this issue from her perspective as a retired teacher, school administrator, and volunteer.  She will be with us, along with others from The Assistance League of Kansas City. She addresses the questions:  Why are so many people angry and meanspirited? How will a lack of civility damage our democracy? Am I going  to have to accept incivility as a way of life?  
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March 11 — Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi. “Given our circumstances, ‘neighbor’ may be too casual a word to describe our relationship. We are intruders into  each other’s dreams, violators of each other’s sense of home. We are living incarnations of each other’s worst  historical nightmares. Neighbors? ” In this taut and provocative book, Halevi endeavors to untangle the ideological and emotional knot that has defined the conflict for nearly a century. Using history and personal experience as his  guides, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger, and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel.  
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April 8 — Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Evervday Hurts by Harriet Learner. The courage to apologize, and the wisdom to do it well, is at the heart of effective leadership, marriage, parenting, friendship, personal integrity, and what we call love. “I’m sorry” are the two most poweful words in the English language. Harriet Leamer is one of our nation’s most loved and respected relationship experts, renowned for her scholarly work on the psychology of women and family relationships. 
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May 13 - Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro.  In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA, Dani Shapiro received the astonishing news that her beloved deceased father was not her biological father. Over the course of a  single day, her entire history — the life she had lived — crumbled beneath her. In just a few hours of internet  sleuthing, she was able to piece together the story of her conception ad, remarkable, find a YouTube video of her biological father. A true story that reads like a novel.        

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Selections are subject to change.  If you would like to be reminded and have additional information, contact David Nelson at humanagenda@gmail.com or call (816) 453-3835


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