The Kansas City Interfaith Council was formed in 1989, after the North American Assisi religious meeting (NAIN) in Witchita, KS in 1988, as a program of CRES, by the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn. [1] The mission of the organization was to direct awareness towards the diversity of faiths within the Kansas City community. The council was a program of CRES for fifteen years, organizing the Gifts of Pluralism Conference and the September 11th Anniversary Observance. Its initial membership was confined to specific criteria, as set forth on the CRES website. The Council was incorporated in its present name, The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC), in 2005, with help from the Rockefeller Foundation grant 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. [2]

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.[3]

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. [4] The expanded membership represented a significant change from the criteria at its founding in 1989, and is regarded by some as a strength, and others as an impediment to its earlier status in the civic community.[5] The Council puts on an annual program, Table of Faiths, which invites the community to share a meal and learn about other faith traditions. [6] The change from the initial luncheon format, designed to enhance its civic presence, was changed to a longer evening format to enable greater interfaith exchange.[7] It also functions as a co-sponsor for the Interfaith Thanksgiving. The current vision is to “Build the most welcoming community for all people.”[8]


[1] Barnet, Vern, interview by Geneva Blackmer. 2019. The Kansas City Interfaith Council. (February 18).

[2] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://www.kcinterfaith.org/about-us/who-we-are/.

[3] Missouri Secretary of State. 2018. Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council – Nonprofit Corporation Details. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://bsd.sos.mo.gov/BusinessEntity/BusinessEntityDetail.aspx?page=beSearch&ID=671903.

[4] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://www.kcinterfaith.org/about-us/who-we-are/.

[5] Barnet, Vern, interview by Geneva Blackmer. 2019. The Kansas City Interfaith Council. (February 18).

[6] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://www.kcinterfaith.org/about-us/who-we-are/.

[7] Barnet, Vern, interview by Geneva Blackmer. 2019. The Kansas City Interfaith Council. (February 18).

[8] The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. 2018. Who We Are. Accessed December 26, 2018. https://www.kcinterfaith.org/about-us/who-we-are/.