This data was last updated on 14 May 2020.
Address: 1627 Pacific Avenue, Dallas, TX 75313-1770
Mission: The two-fold mission of Thanks-Giving Square is "to offer a place for all people to give thanks to our Creator" and "to witness, celebrate, and to promote the value and spirit of thanksgiving for both sacred and secular cultures throughout the world." The Square works to eliminate ignorance by revealing the commonalities amongst cultures and traditions. It strives to provide cultural enrichment by presenting the history, philosophy, and art of thanksgiving in the United States and around the world. Finally, it seeks to promote understanding by offering a common ground where diverse peoples can find unity in gratitude.
History: The idea for a site in the center of downtown Dallas was conceived and approved by the Dallas City Planning Council in 1961. For almost two years, educators and philosophers from around the world were consulted to suggest a value that would be considered universal and would serve as the site's theme. Gratitude was the chosen value. The Thanks-Giving Foundation was established in 1964, and the site was purchased in 1968. Philip Johnson's world famous chapel was consecrated in 1976 and the grounds were opened in 1977. Since then, the site has grown to three and half acres. In addition to a public park, the Square now serves as an organization dedicated to programs of education, research, and outreach. For a more comprehensive history, see the organization's website.
Purpose: The four fold purpose of Thanks-Giving Square is to "gather and share the thanksgivings of the world; provide a place of honor for the great American and world traditions; conduct research about gratitude in all religions and cultures; [and] promote thanksgiving globally."
Description of Programs:
Local and National: One of the Square's main local programs is the annual Week of Thanks-Giving, a series of events exhibiting multi-cultural art, music, drama, dance, and foods. One of the major attractions of the week is the Expressions Competition, where students from throughout North Texas submit essays, visual art, and dance performances with the theme of gratitude. The Square also hosts the National Day of Prayer Breakfast. Community leaders, representing more than two dozen faith traditions, attend this breakfast, symbolizing the rich diversity of Dallas. The Square hosts school tours so students may learn about thanksgiving and the role it's played in American history. To address adult education , the Square offers regular seminars, lectures, and presentations from noted leaders and scholars. On the national level, the Square helps draft presidential proclamations for the National Day of Prayer and the Thanksgiving holiday.
International: In recent years, the Square's international activity has increased dramatically. Through government contacts and connections at the United Nations, Thanks-Giving Square has become involved, in greater and greater degrees, with public diplomacy and international relations. The Square believes that improving US relations with other nations and resolving conflicts depends on discovering shared values such as gratitude. An effective method to achieve this goal is encouraging highly influential, key communicators -- especially religious and civic leaders -- to find genuine points of convergence and shared concerns.
Towards achieving this goal, in 1981 the Square hosted the first of three Convocations of World Religious Leaders on the theme of gratitude. In 1997, it worked with Argentina to persuade the Member States of the UN to declare 2000 the International Year of Thanksgiving. It is now an active participant in the annual UN Non-Government Organizations Conference. It is involved in UN forums and workshops, and in 2006, played a role in the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace. The United States Department of State has sent several delegations of high profile dignitaries, scholars, media specialists, civil and religious leaders from other nations to visit Thanks-Giving Square and its Interfaith Council. The Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has commended the Square for its work in this regard.
Organizational Structure and Leadership: Thanks-Giving Square is run by its Board of Directors and its various committees, namely the Interfaith Council and the Education Committee. These groups help plan and implement the Square's programs. A small, full time staff includes a director, a vice-president of the Interfaith Council, a program coordinator, an administrative assistant, two maintenance/technical workers, and rotating student interns. Finally, the Square could not operate without the support of volunteers throughout Dallas. For more information, see the website's section on leadership.