Download Vern Barnet's 10th Anniversary
20-page essay in PDF:
The World's Religions: Pieces or Pattern?
Finding the Sacred
in a World without Direction
2001 Oct (26) 27-28
for Shaping the Future of Religion in the Kansas City Area:
DOWNLOAD PDF Summary Report for Civic Council
The Gifts of Pluralism
Kansas City’s First Interfaith Conference:
A Success — A Model for the Future
|Overview.-- The “Gifts of Pluralism” conference, held Oct. 27-28, 2001, on the Ward Parkway (State Line) campus of the Pembroke Hill School, marked the metropolitan area’s first interfaith conference and set the stage for future collaboration among representatives of all faiths. Never before have so many people of so many faiths gathered here to learn from each other and to plan for the future.|
250 people participated in the two-day event representing 15 faith groups
— American Indian, Bahá'í, Buddhist, Christian (Protestant,
Catholic, Orthodox), Free Thinkers, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Sufi,
Unitarian Universalist, Wiccan, Zoroastrian.
|Program.-- A goal was to focus
on the diversity in Kansas City, so out-of-town celebrity speakers were
not engaged. The resources within our own area were displayed in many ways,
including the Saturday evening of drama, dance, and music.
A 500-word declaration, edited from comments posted on a wall throughout
the conference, was unanimously adopted and signed in a ceremony using
the conference logo and water from rivers around the world and from area
fountains from Independence to Olathe.
The Declaration begins, “This is an historic moment because never before have people of so many faiths in the Kansas City area convened to explore sacred directions for troubled times. Especially after the events of September 11, the need for our support for one another and the larger community is clear and commanding.”
|Organizers.-- This conference
represents the cooperation of many organizations which understand the importance
of faith in the life of the community.
|Funding was provided by the Bank of America as Trustee of the George and Elizabeth Davis Trusts, the Ewing M Kauffman Fund for Greater Kansas City, DST, the Norman and Elaine Polsky Fund, the Bank of Blue Valley, and Community Christian Church, with smaller gifts for scholarship funds from numerous individuals. The facility was provided as an in-kind gift from Pembroke Hill School. The conference fee was $75 (including all meals); donations made student scholarships and other subsidies possible.|
|Additional information (including
extensive press coverage,
Concluding Declaration, and detailed program and participants) is available
on the CRES website (www.cres.org). Conference notebooks (120 pages) with
each faith’s section prepared locally, are available for $22 each from
the address below.
|POSTSCRIPT. Since this report was prepared in 2001, new activities directly growing out of the conference have blessing our community, including the play, The Hindu and the Cowboy and Other Kansas City Stories and the nationally recognized Interfaith Passport. In 2002 network CBS did a half-hour special on Kansas City because of other work growing out of the conference, and in 2007 the nation's first "Interfaith Academies," with partners including the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, Religions for Peace-USA at the UN Plaza, the Saint Paul School of Theology, and the renamed Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, with CRES providing local arrangements and Vern serving on the international faculty.|
Click on tree to return to CRES.ORG.
CONCLUDING CONFERENCE DECLARATION
This is a historic moment because never before have
people of so many faiths in the Kansas City area convened to explore sacred
directions for troubled times. Especially after the events of September
11, the need for our support for one another and the larger community is
clear and commanding.
We do hereby declare our resolve to work towards making Kansas City a model community, where interfaith relationships are honored as a way of deepening one's own tradition and spirituality, and where the wisdom of the many religions successfully addresses the environmental, personal and social crises of our often fragmented world.
¶ The gifts of pluralism have taught us that nature is to be respected rather than controlled; nature is a process that includes us, not a product external to us to be used or disposed of. Our proper attitude toward nature is awe, not utility.
The work we have done this weekend is a turning point to overcome the misunderstandings that separate persons and communities of faith. We resolve to deepen our commitments to our own faith communities and to enlarge our understanding of kinship by honoring the faiths of others. This conference, “The Gifts of Pluralism,” is thus the beginning of an expanded conversation by which we may show both our humility and our gratitude in offering service to that which is Infinite and Ultimate, which we call by many names but identify in our hearts as the Source from which come, to which we return, and which holds us in this present opportunity.
Approved unanimously at the end of
the Conference with each person
Brainstorming ideas about a second "Gifts" conference have been removed from this page
so as not to precondition planning for another conference.
The material is now available at