Council's Mission Welcomes All

January 24, 2007

Author: Vern Barnet

Source: The Kansas City Star

At a retreat last weekend, the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council took another step toward its goal of making Kansas City the most welcoming place on the planet for people of all faiths.

“We’re serious about this,” said retiring council convener David E. Nelson, a Lutheran. “This is not just some wild-eyed vision. We are serious.”

Bruce Jeffrey, a consultant with PriorityAdvantage who led the retreat, said that any group’s vision should make it stretch. The council is far more diverse than the nonprofits he typically works with, he said, but the goal was very unifying for them all, that it inspires and excites them.

The leadership of the council has now passed to Caroline Baughman, a pagan selected by her peers, including American Indian, Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian Protestant, Christian Catholic, Christian Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Sufi, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian members.

Asked whether she thought it was significant that a person of her faith, so often misunderstood, had become the council’s convener, she replied, “I haven’t thought much about that, but, yes, I am proud.” She went on to explain that she understands her position more as a steward than a manager because the council requires consensus in making its decisions. Others spoke highly of her skills. She is a member of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine faculty.