In 2002, the Rev. Dr. George Wiley, a former professor of religion at Baker University, began engaging his students in research on world religions in northeast Kansas. He became a Pluralism Project affiliate that same year. The Rev. Dr. Wiley and his students began visiting religious sites in Kansas and created profiles of some of these sites. He retired from Baker University in 2011 after 35 years on campus. The Rev. Dr. Wiley is an ordained priest in the Episcopal church and now serves in the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.
At the time of the World Religions in Northeast Kansas project, Dr. Wiley wrote:
Kansas is a large Midwestern state, measuring 200 by 400 miles. Most religious centers in Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City are within an hour’s drive of Baker University, but exploring the numerous Buddhist temples in Wichita involves a three-hour trip each way. The Vietnamese Buddhist community, whose members often work at meat-packing plants in western Kansas, were also out of reach for the students as a one-way trip would be 300 miles.
Kansas is chiefly an agricultural state, with even small towns featuring a grain elevator and a railway link. Wichita is home to an aircraft industry; Topeka is a rail center; and Kansas City’s diverse economy includes the world headquarters of Embarq (formerly Sprint). The largest universities, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, have attracted practitioners of many faiths to the state.
This research found Muslim communities in Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City, and Wichita; Buddhists in numerous parts of the state; Hindus in Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka; Jewish people in every large city, Sikhs in Kansas City, and followers of Chinese traditions in Lawrence.
Selected Links and Publications