Some years ago the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council set as a goal "building the most welcoming community for all people."
The idea was that people of any faith tradition -- and none -- would feel at home here and not be conscious of sensing that they were outsiders.
The council has been a consistent voice for this idea and Kansas City, in fact, has developed a good reputation as a place of interfaith dialogue and harmony, though, of course, no community ever gets that right all the time.
I was thinking about this history the other evening when the council put on its annual Table of Faiths event (shown in the photo here today), this year at Unity Village just east of Kansas City.
Along with various booths representing different faith communities, there was conversation and a chance to applaud the recipients of two awards.
The Table of Faiths Award went to the Lisa Barth Interfaith Chapel at Children's Mercy Hospital. I wrote about that lovely space here when it was first dedicated last year. And the Steve Jeffers Interfaith Leadership Award went to Bambi Shen, who was born into the family of a Chinese diplomat but who then spent time in a Japanese concentration camp before, as an adult, becoming a voice for boldness and spiritual strength. She's the author of The Uncrushable Rose.
Steve Jeffers, by the way, was a friend who died unexpectedly a few years ago while he was working at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, where he oversaw production of a book, The Essential Guide to Religious Traditions and Spirituality for Healthcare Providers.
There still is much work left to be done to improve religious harmony and hospitality in Kansas City, but the council is carrying on that work faithfully. It could, however, use your help. So visit the council's website and see where and how you can lend a hand.
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DOWN THE WRONG CATHOLIC PATH
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni holds up a new loyalty agreement being used in Catholic schools in Cincinnati and notes that it is decidedly out of step with the new pope. Yeah, it's going to take a while for some elements of the church to focus on what's really important versus the divisive culture wars issues that Pope Francis is trying to back away from a bit. Sigh.