The Kansas City Interfaith Council was formed in 1989 by CRES and The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn. The mission of the organization was to direct awareness towards the diversity of faiths within the Kansas City community. The council operated under CRES for fifteen years, making significant contributions to the Gifts of Pluralism Conference and the September 11th Observance. The new incorporation of the council occurred in 2005, when it was recognized through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation from Religions for Peace USA. At this time, it was designated as a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The name was changed to The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC), and it still exists in this capacity today. [1]

Per the Missouri Secretary of State, original organizational purpose was “To communicate an awareness of the effect of prejudice on every American and to reinforce each individual’s right to move freely in our society…, including…the making of presentations in panel form…directed at improving the awareness of the members of the audience as to the existence of prejudice and discrimination…and promoting communication …toward the alleviation of these and related topics.”  Upon the new incorporation of the Council in 2004-2005, the purpose became:

  1. To develop deeper understanding among members of the Council of each other’s faiths and traditions and to foster appropriate bilateral and multilateral interreligious conversations
  2. To model religious values (especially mutual respect and cooperation) in a society which often seems non-religious and intolerant
  3. To provide resources, networking and programs to increase appreciation for religious diversity, and
  4. To work with media and with educational and religious leaders and groups in promoting accurate and fair portrayal of the faiths.[2]

The Board of Directors reflects the diversity of the faith traditions in the city. GKCIC’s Faith Directors, and At-Large Directors, represent 22 distinct faiths, working together to promote multi-faith understanding. From 2007-2008, Officers included Rev. Kathy Riegelman, Convener, Singh Sahib Karta Purkh S. Khalsa, Co-Convener, Rev. Dr. Kara Hawkins, Secretary, and Lama Chuck Stanford, Treasurer. In 2009-2010, Robert Bacic served as Convener, and Khalsa, Hawkins and Stanford remained in their current roles. Shannon Clark became the Executive Director. Bacic remained Convener from 2011-2012. Sheila Sonnenschein took over as Co-Covener, Barb McAtee as Secretary, and Fred Schuele as Treasurer. In 2013-2014, Sonnenschein became Convener, Anton Jacobs was Co-Convener, Fr. Paisius Altschul was Secretary, and KartaPurkh Khalsa served as Treasurer. Linda “Uma” Prugh served as Board Representative. The Interim roster, dated March 2014, placed Rev. Mary Gibson McCoy as Co-Convener. Sonnenschein remained Convener, and Susan Nakao, Ph.D. took over as Secretary. Khalsa remained Treasurer, and Prugh’s title changed to Director.[3]

The 2015-2016 Executive Committee consisted of Rev. Mary Gibson McCoy, Convener, Rev. Kelly Isola, Co-Convener, Linda Boyce, Secretary, Deb Bhaduri, Treasurer, and Susan Nakao, Ph.D., Board Representative.[4] As of 2017-2018, the current Chair is Rev. Kelly Isola. Other executive committee members include Cindy McDavitt, Vice Chair, Fr. Michael Medis, Secretary, Zulfiqar Malik, Treasurer, and Susan Nakao, Council Liason. The Council puts on an annual program, Table of Faiths, which invites the community to share a meal and learn about other faith traditions. It also functions as a co-sponsor for the Interfaith Thanksgiving. The current vision is to “Build the most welcoming community for all people.”[5]



[1] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018.

[2] Missouri Secretary of State. 2018. Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council – Nonprofit Corporation Details. Accessed December 26, 2018.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018.