The Kansas City Festival of Faiths originated in the fall of 2005, out of a Kansas City volunteer committee. The purpose of the committee was to create an event which would advance inter-religious understanding. The committee’s goals were to promote available interfaith opportunities, and to expand the base of people who took part in interfaith activities, by bringing in notable guest speakers. They also sought to conduct yearly research necessary to track the demographics of those attending these events. The hope was to create an arts and cultural event that would appeal to people who weren’t exclusively interested in interfaith. [1] Per the suggestion of Diana Eck, director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, and previous a guest speaker for one of Kansas City’s Visiting Scholar programs, the committee decided to model the event off the Festival of Faiths in Louisville, Kentucky. The first Festival of Faiths in Kansas City was launched in November 2007 and was funded by the Village Presbyterian Church Endowment Trust.[2]

Almost 1,000 people attended the first festival. The Festival’s mission was to “discover, recognize, celebrate, and promote the reality of pluralism in Kansas City through listening, learning, understanding and experience — the exercise of acceptance.” The organization’s slogan was “fostering interfaith experience.” The event was comprised of a two-week series of events, including a lunch benefiting the Kansas City Interfaith Council, a film festival, A performance of the original play, The Hindu and the Cowboy, a Harmony Interfaith concert, keynote speakers, and a Thanksgiving Dinner at the Immanuel Lutheran Church fellowship hall. More than seventy-five religious organizations provided support, including the Jewish Community Foundation; religious and civic leaders were drawn from major organizations such as the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, Crescent Peace Society, and CRES.[3]

The Kansas City Festival of Faiths was always free and open to the public, offering a speaker and play event annually. Speakers included Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core, and the Judea Pearl/Akbar Ahmed Dialogue for Jewish-Muslim Understanding. 2015 was the final year for Festival of Faiths. The Hindu and the Cowboy playwright, Donna Ziegenhorn, issued a press release on 4 June 2018, stating that Festival of Faiths would be absorbed by The Faith Always Wins Foundation, founded by Mindy Corporon. Faith Always Wins hosts the SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World events.[4] To signify this transition, they wrote a check to the Faith Always Wins Foundation, specifying that their remaining funds be used for performance related activities. They also donated their database of over 1,800 names collected through their research.[5]


References

[1] Ziegenhorn, Donna and Marilyn Brewster, interview by Geneva Blackmer. 2019. Festival of Faiths and Hindu and the Cowboy (January 7).

[2] The Pluralism Project: Harvard University. 2008. Festival of Faiths in Kansas City. Accessed December 26, 2018. http://pluralism.org/profile/festival-of-faiths-in-kansas-city/.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ziegenhorn, Donna. 2018. “Festival of Faiths Gifts Seven Weeks.” Bill’s ‘Faith Matters’ Blog. June 4. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://billtammeus.typepad.com/files/festival-of-faiths-release-2018-.pdf.

[5] Ziegenhorn, Donna and Marilyn Brewster, interview by Geneva Blackmer. 2019. Festival of Faiths and Hindu and the Cowboy (January 7).