CRES: promoting understanding among peoples of all faiths
See also our page listing CRES Services and consult
ARCHIVED Guidelines for World Religions Programs
How You Can Use Kansas City Resources (from 2005)
ALSO Eternal Rules for public luncheon and dinner event organizers
|1. Introduction and Primers
2. Basic Hints
3. Overview Topics
4. Overview Speakers
5. Kansas City Interfaith Council
6. Resources in Kansas City
7. For children
8. CRES, promoting understanding among peoples of all faiths
Congratulations to you and your group for considering a World Religions
program. Most people find learning about other faiths deepens their own.
How can we truly love our neighbors if we do not know them?
1a. Interfaith Primers
2. Basic Hints and Examples
A. In your publicity, emphasize that your group brings a respectful attitude to the faiths you will encounter. As you introduce the program, again make clear that the purpose of the event is information and understanding. It is not for argument or conversion — either for the speaker to convert your group or for anyone in your group to convert the speaker. We celebrate kinship, not necessarily a common creed. Learning about each other can help us mature within our own traditions.*
B. Your speakers should
C. If you have friends, family members, co-workers, or acquaintances of other faiths you would like to hear about and who are qualified, invite them to be part of your program. Personal relationships build bridges between faiths. But if you need help in obtaining speakers, consider the Kansas City Interfaith Council Speakers Bureau.
D. If you wish an overview, you may want to use teachers of comparative religion or individuals listed below. Overview topics are identified in a following section.
E. Consider at least one speaker
from each of three families of faith.
F. While most groups want a program
in which each religion is presented with time for questions, others have
asked their speakers to address a specific issue around which a series
or panel has been organized, such as healing or the role of the family.
G. Here are four different models of
|3. Topics for an Overview
Some groups also like to begin
the series with an “overview” or introduction, and/or conclude with a summation.
Depending on the time allotted, a speaker can:
-- Identify the major religions within the three great families of faith (the Primal, the Asian, the Monotheistic) and sketch their presence in Kansas City
-- Chart the basic characteristics of the three families of faith and illustrate their basic insights with characteristic stories and objects of art
-- Show how three great areas of crisis today (environmental, personal, and social) require our acquaintance with these great traditions of wisdom
-- Explain how the basic insights of the families of faith can become distorted
-- Present the five most common guesses scholars make about what the future of religions is likely to be
-- Provide appropriate hand-outs and identify additional resources
-- Answer general questions and questions about specific religions (their origins and leaders, their history, their beliefs and practices, their texts, their organization, distribution, and membership, etc.)
-- Place the interest in world religions
in the context of the unprecedented religious confusion in America to day,
deepened by (1) privatism, the fragmentation of personal religious experience
from society, and (2) secularism, society without a unifying vision of
OTHER TOPIC SUGGESTIONS
1. What does your faith group say about the best attitude to bring to other religions? What is your own story about how you came to recognize other faiths?
2. What is the meaning of
3. Some scholars identify four dimensions to religion:
4. Overview speakers
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, CRES minister in
residence or another member of the CRES staff will be happy to assist you,
and work with the Speakers Bureau.
The Rev David E Nelson, DMin, formerly senior pastor
at Saint James Lutheran Church, was appointed CRES associate minister in
5. KC Interfaith Council [this material is dated to 2005]
The mission of the Council was:
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
6. Interfaith Resources in Kansas City
(1) Kansas City Interfaith Council Speakers Bureau
(2) “An Interview on Interfaith
(3) Religious Diversity in Kansas City, prepared by the CRES staff
(4) Many Paths, the monthly newsletter of CRES
(5) The Saturday “Faith” section of The Kansas City Star, which features a rotating panel of spiritual leaders from various faiths in Kansas City, a “Spotlight” and stories on trends and issues
(6) The “Faiths and Beliefs” column by Vern Barnet, in the Wednesday FYI section of The Kansas City Star
(7) Other organizations listed on the CRES website on the Network page
7. For Children
Children can and should become acquainted with the concept of religious diversity.
Many denominations and school systems have developed resources to assist teachers.
In addition, the internet is full of material, some
of it reliable, that may help. Here are a few examples:
An old book for children that still may be helpfu is Dorothy Dixon's WORLD RELIGIONS IN THE CLASSROOM. Basic books useful for lay teachers are Huston Smith's THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS (ISBN 0-06-250811-3) and SOURCEBOOK OF THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS by Joel Beversluis (ISBN 1-57731-121-3.)
On-site curriculum consultation and training is $75/hour with a 4-hour minimum.
Congratulations on recognizing the importance of children and young people (as well as adults) in learning about world religions. Those who undertake the study find that their own faith is deepened and enriched.
Founded as “The Center for Religious Experience and Study,” CRES is a Kansas City area non-profit interfaith institute founded in 1982. Its mission is to explore and celebrate the sacred in nature, personal identity, and social covenant, including all areas of culture, from art and business to science and sports. Its services include consultation and teaching, programs, counseling, networking, weddings, publications, and other ways of supporting individuals and organizations with the resources of the world’s religious traditions and contemporary liberation movements.
VISION: CRES envisions the greater Kansas City area as a model community where interfaith relationships are honored as a way of deepening one’s own tradition and spirituality, and where the wisdom of the many religions successfully addresses the environmental, personal, and social crises of our often distracted, fragmented, secular world.
MISSION: To honor the sacred wherever it appears, to support its appearance everywhere, and especially by promoting understanding among peoples of all faiths in Kansas City and beyond.
GUIDING QUESTION: What is so important that life depends upon it, so meaningful that I would die for it, and what may I do to understand, honor, and share it? In other words: What is sacred?
MOTTO: “Primal Faiths, restored with nature; Asian Faiths, the self made whole; Monotheistic Faiths, community in covenant; Liberation Movements, finding the sacred afresh.”
THE ROLE OF CRES: Institutionally, CRES exists in the spaces between other religious and secular organizations, building a network among them by asking the Guiding Question. While the focus of CRES is the Kansas City metropolitan area, it also relates to international interfaith organizations and activities.
THE WORK OF CRES:
1. Unless the occasion is sad or tragic, begin on the upbeat, grateful, glad to see the people, to honor the occasion. Don't mumble.
2. Remember most people attend such events from a sense of obligation or desire to support an occasion or a cause or a person being honored.
3. They are already supporting your organization or event. Don't ask them to support another. Don't give your time to another organization to make its pitch. That's not why folks are at your tables.
4. Don't use a PA sound system unless it is really necessary. If you must, be sure the damn thing works. People like me who are hard of hearing often understand better without amplification than with it. Using a PA system does not make your event more important.
5. If you ask a representative of a hosting facility to present greetings, be clear what you ask for. Some may presume you want a lecture and/or a prayer. But if you plan on someone else offering a prayer, tell your host your plan. If the occasion might lead guests to wonder where the rest rooms are, such information will make your guests more comfortable.
6. Don't poison your guests with salty food. Many caterers use harmful levels of salt because most people are addicted to salt and will die early because of that. You don't permit smoking. Why do you permit unhealthy levels of salt? If your caterer fears bland food, add salt shakers to the tables so those who want to die early can choose to do so themselves.
7. Don't ask musicians to perform during the meal unless you are instructing people not to talk. This might be OK in a monastic setting where monks may be used to listen to a designated reader while no one converses. Normally people want to visit with each other and music can make that hard. Sometimes guests feel like they need to applaud after every song or piece. It's awkward and defeats, rather than supporting, the benefits of socializing.
8. Clear the table after the meal, or let the guests know where they can bus or dispose of the stuff. Most people like a clean table place to sit at for the remainder of the program instead of viewing the mess they've made.
9. People come for the main event. Don't tack on
to the dinner an amateur hour performance of any sort. People want to visit
or go home.