KC's deep religious roots: 2-28-12
February 28, 2012
Several days ago I was interviewed for an online radio show called Everyday KC. The interview has not yet been aired (is aired the right word here?) but when it's scheduled I'll try to let you know.
The thrust of the conversation with Duane Daugherty and Rachel Ellyn had to do with religious history in the Kansas City area and the importance of religion to our region.
To prepare for the interview, I began digging around in various sources to learn (or mostly re-learn) some of our regional religious history, and I came away from that experience freshly impressed with how much religion matters here not only today but throughout the area's history.
A few tidbits:
* You've all heard of the United Methodist Church, a national denomination? But did you know that the first "uniting" of Methodism occurred in Kansas City at the "Uniting" conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Methodist Protestant Church held from April 26-May 10, 1939?
* Did you know that what today is called the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was established Sept. 10, 1880, which, by the way, was just 11 days before the very first issue of The Kansas City Star was published?
* Did you know that Kansas City is the international headquarters of Unity, the Nazarene Church and the Community of Christ (once known as the Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints)? Unity goes back to 1889, while Nazarene history formally began in 1908. The Community of Christ traces its origins not only to the 1830s and Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, but also to the 1850s as a separated movement. Independence has been the home of the Community of Christ since 1920. (By the way, the photo here today shows the Community of Christ's temple in Independence.)
* Were you aware that Jews have been part of our community since at least the late 1830s? Today there are 12 or 13 congregations, including the newest, Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City, led by my co-author and friend, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkon.
Well, there is much, much more -- including our several seminaries here as well as Bible colleges and other schools rooted in religion.
I say all of this simply to remind all of us that you really can't understand our culture and community today if you don't factor in the role religion has played in all of it since the beginning.
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A DENOMINATION BY ANY OTHER NAME. . .
The Southern Baptist Convention recently agreed not to change its name to, well, something else. Religion News Service offers this interesting piece about religious rebranding and how difficult that can be. The problematic word in SBC's name seems to be "Southern." But surely that's better than, say, Directionless.