In 2002, the Rev. Dr. George Wiley, a 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 ordainedOrdination means consecration to a priestly or monastic life. The term is used in the Buddhist tradition for the rites of becoming a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni); in the Jewish tradition for the rites of becoming a rabbi; and in the Christian traditi... priestA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... in the EpiscopalEpiscopal refers to any church in which authority is vested in a bishop (Greek episkopos). More particularly it refers to the Episcopal Church in America, which developed from the Church of England after the American Revolution. churchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... and now serves in the Episcopal DioceseA diocese is an administrative unit of the Christian Church, presided over by a bishop. 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 templesBuddhist temples differ considerably from one another depending upon culture and particular school, but most are associated with the residence of the sangha of monks. Theravada temples focus on one or more images of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Mahayana and Vajra... 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, SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... in Kansas City, and followers of Chinese traditions in Lawrence.
Selected Links and Publications