History of Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council
The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) was originally formed as the Kansas City Interfaith Council (KCIFC) in 1989 by the Rev. Vern Barnet. He wanted to bring awareness of the rich diversity of faiths that constitute our Greater Kansas City community. For fifteen years, the Council, made up of 13 faiths, was hosted by the Center for Religious Experience and Study (CRES). The Council offered speakers to make faith presentations, it organized interfaith events such as the historic two-day 2001 Gifts of Pluralism Conference and a September 11 Observance held in 2001 featuring a brass ensemble from the Kansas City Symphony and an elaborate water pouring ceremony.
January 1, 2005, marked a turning point for the Council when it reorganized through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation from Religions for Peace USA, and was designated a 501(c)(3) organization. The Council created a new structure, elected its first officers, and developed committees to address planning, finances, and interfaith programs to bring to the community. The Council also changed its name to The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) to emphasize its inclusive nature, and it adopted the consensus model for decision-making, created its vision statement, and revised its mission and goals.
In March 2005, the Council revised and approved its bylaws, adding two more faiths to its original thirteen. The Council also added a new category of Council membership: At-Large Council Members. Two categories of non-voting advisory boards were also created: the Faith Advisory Board and the Community Advisory Board.
On November 10, 2005, the Council held its first Table of Faiths Celebration and honored Dr. Vern Barnet with its first award in recognition of his founding of the Council. Dr Barnet remains the Council's Convener Emeritus.
In 2008 the Council hired its first Executive director, Shannon Clark, who demonstrated adept leadership, especially in guiding the Council's expansion of interfaith programs for the community and helping it to work toward financial sustainability so that these programs could continue and more could be added. Our very best wishes are extended to Shannon, who relocated with her family to their new home in Colorado in the Spring of 2011.
Highlights of 2011 have included two programs that were inaugurated in 2010:
On Thursday evening, March 3 at Forum Theatre in the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, the Council hosted “Winter's Light: An Evening of Multi-Faith Storytelling, Music and Dance.” Then on Sunday afternoon, June 26, the Council co-hosted with Cultural Crossroads “Food and Thought” -- a luncheon with interfaith dialog. Six hosts in their homes located throughout metropolitan Kansas City had luncheons for small groups of guests of various faiths. A facilitator led the discussion. In all there were forty-eight participants.
In September 2011, the Global and Multicultural Center (GAME) selected the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council to receive its 2011 Peace Builder Award. GAME was established in 1982 as an education center with the primary mission of building grassroots public support for international and intercultural understanding. This honor was especially meaningful for the GKCIC, as it reflected the Council's vision of building the most welcoming community for all people.
PO Box 9117
Mission, KS 66202