In June 2007 I wrote a column for The Kansas City Star about "The House That Abraham Builds," a Habitat for Humanity house-building project in which Christians, Jews and Muslims worked together.
The second house in this three-faith series is under construction now, and Wednesday of this week was clergy work day at the site, just east of 35th and the Paseo on Flora.
I stopped by to see clergy and other volunteers pound nails and do other tasks they normally aren't required to tackle at their houses of worship.
In fact, in the top picture here today the man on the right with the white hard hat (an appropriately named color choice for him) is the Very Rev. Terry White, dean of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Kansas City. Working next to him in the orange hard hat is another Episcopal priest, the Rev. Jason Lewis, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in south Kansas City. The man up top in the blue hard hat is Bob Pine, an AmeriCorps volunteer.
Terry told me that given all the difficulty these religions have had over the years getting along, this project has been a wonderful opportunity to work together in harmony. Members of the three faiths even have worshiped together as the project has moved along, he said, and that has opened up the possibility of ongoing interfaith connections.
Geofrey Kigenyi, Habitat's faith relations coordinator, said ground was broken for this house in late February and the first volunteer day was April 22. (That's Geofrey in the photo at left, leaning sort of backwards on a ladder under the roof line.) After the home is dedicated in late June, a single mother and her children will live there. The woman is a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, which is participating in this project.
Another Catholic parish helping out is Visitation, located at 51st and Main. It is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and I have written a book about its centennial that will be out this summer. It's called Visitation: A Century of Faith. For details, click here.
This Habitat project is exactly the kind of interfaith opportunity that can be the start of long-term relations and understanding. It's easier to respect people of other faiths once you've all banged your thumbs with hammers together.
In the photo at the bottom right, you can see the shape of the whole house. It's in an old neighborhood in which today you are beginning to see quite a few Habitat homes.
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PRAY TELL, NOW WHAT?
Yesterday was National Day of Prayer, and as you might expect, there's controversy because President Obama did not treat it the same way that former President George W. Bush did. For a recap from a Christian Science Monitor blog, including provocative goofiness from Rush Limbaugh (who, in my judgment, was a good p.r. guy for the KC Royals but has gone downhill since then), click here. And for Obama's proclamation of National Day of Prayer, click on this link: Download 2009prayer_prc_rel
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P.S.: If you're interested in a story about "Christian Zionists" helping Israel search for oil on Israeli territory, click here.