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Independence Day Interfaith Observance
July 3 Sunday 10-10:30 am, KC Riverfest at Berkley Riverfront Park (see their website: www.kcriverfest.com.)

We had a bit of rain, but we all enjoyed each other's company and were grateful for the folks who sat in the rain to affirm the importance of interfaith understanding -- or to satisfy their curioisity about the many faiths of our area! One of our participants, Josef Walker, writes, "Even though the crowd was sparse it is always good for faith leaders to have a reason to gather and pray and fellowship. Therefore the event was a rich blessing for us and our City."

Participants were (front:) Hindu Anand Bhattacharyya, Muslim Ahmed El-Sherif, American Indian (Ojibway) Karen West, moderator Vern Barnet, Pagan Star Kenny, Freethinker Robert Madison, actress Linda Sher, actress Diane Bulan; (back:) Christian Josef Walker, Buddhist Chuck Stanford, Jew Allan Abrams, actor Roshan Paiva, Sikh Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Bahá’í Riaz Castillo, singer-actor-factotum Sam Wright.



 
 

THE PROGRAM

SONG -- Sam Wright

OPENING WORDS -- Vern Barnet

HINDU AND COWBOY EXCERPTS -- Diane Bulan, Roshan Paiva, Linda Sher,  Sam Wright

Five performances of the complete play are scheduled in various parts of the metropolitan area:
Sunday, September 11: Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church in Raytwon
Thursday, October 13: Unity Temple on the Plaza
Friday October 28: Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village
Saturday, November 5: Community of Christ Temple in Independence
Another performance in Rosedale at KU Medical Center, Date to be announced.
--Watch your newspaper calendars for more details. --  About the play:
       “Amazing . . . It makes us laugh, cry, and pulls us into the hearts of others and depths of our own soul.” —Mahnaz Shabbir, Shabbir Associates; interfaith activist
       “. . . A powerful experience . . . It engages youth -- and all ages — in understanding people and cultures outside their own.” —Will McDowell, Managing Director Youth Programs, People to People International
           “Moving . . . meaningful . . . a wonderful event. We all need to hear these stories.” —Al Brooks, KC Mayor Pro Tem


WATER CEREMONY

Preface--Vern
     Vern explained the history of water as an interfaith symbol in Kansas City (see below), noting the logo included in the photo above. He thanked Sam for collecting water from the Missouri River, a few yards from the stage, now in nine small containers, each of which was ritually poured into the large container above the logo banner.
    RESPONSE WORDS: We give thanks for the waters of freedom.

American Indian -- Karen West
Oh Great Spirit, we give thanks to you in the West from whence the Thunderbeings’ cleansing rains come to replenish our Mother the Earth. Oh Grandfather, may the element of water remind us always of your blessings so that we may walk in compassion and Love for all our brothers and sisters. Aho, mitakuye oyasin.
RESPONSE

Bahá’í --Riaz Castillo
The founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, often used water to symbolize the life-giving properties of divine revelation.  This prayer is an example:/
    " What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.
    "O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity." (Bahá'u'lláh, /Prayers and Meditations/ CLXXIII , pages 264-265)
RESPONSE

Buddhist -- Lama Chuck Stanford
As waters flow purifying the stream, so may the stream of our consciousness be cleansed of anger, fear, and envy so that our hearts may be like the universal solvent accepting all in compassion.
RESPONSE

Christian -- Josef Walker
Creator God, you have made water a symbol of your gift of freedom. We are mindful of Noah and the flood, Moses and the Exodus, Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, and the Baptism of the early Church. As we combine these waters today may we be grateful for your gift of freedom. Amen.
RESPONSE

Jewish -- Allan Abrams
For thousands of years, Jews have migrated around the world, with many of us now blessed to be Americans, and always with the words of the prophet: "Let justice well up like fresh water, and honesty roll in full tide."
RESPONSE

Hindu -- Anand Bhattacharyya
Hindus recognize water as an important natural element to sustain life. So, water has a special place in Hindu faith. Water not only purifies our body, it also has spiritually cleansing power. Hindus revere rivers and mountains which are the sources of rivers. Ganges is the most important of all sacred rivers. Many places of pilgrimage are located on the bank of river Ganges. To Hindus morning cleansing with water is a basic necessity. Sacred river water is required for worship services. At the start of a worship service the priest sprinkles water over and around his body and chant mantras for purification purpose. At the end of a service water is sometimes sprinkled over worshippers with the peace chanting. Thus, in Hindu faith water symbolizes life, purity and peace.
RESPONSE

Muslim  -- Ahmed El-Sherif
Islam offers brotherhood and humanity. Religion gives us the means to smooth human arrogance, vanity, and hatred as this water smoothes rocks and mountains. As Muslims wash themselves before prayer, so we all are cleansed by the kindness we offer to one another as Americans and citizens of the world. Our faith gives us the courage of the holy and divine that illuminates our way to civility, humbleness, justice, and peace as this water douses fires and flames.
RESPONSE

Pagan --Star Kenny
Water is the life blood of Gaia, our Earth Mother, as well as of us, her children. Water connects us not only to each other but also to our Earth Mother. Water allows us to speak the thoughts of our hearts, our deep compassion. May this water enable us to live in compassion with ourselves, each other, and our Earth Mother. So Mote It Be.
RESPONSE

Sikh -- Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa
As each drop of water represents a soul and we combine to form the God seen in all the oceans, the rivers, and the strteams, and indeed in all of creation, may we acknowledge our divinity as One, separate from no one, united with all -- at peace, whole and forever holy.
RESPONSE

Zoroastrian -- Sam Wright for Daryoush Jahanian
The Wise Lord made the wind and the clouds, and the refreshment of the rains on the parched soil. Let us become the refreshment in our community that new life may grow and flourish.
RESPONSE

FreeThinker -- Robert Madison
    America gained its independence, in part, because the waters that distanced us from British rule, suggested the colonies could govern themselves.  And water has remained an important part of our history ever since, from Washington crossing the Delaware, to Lewis & Clark, and the expansion West to the Pacific.
    Today our thirst for freedom - shared by those of all faiths, and of no faith at all - is nurtured by the First Amendment to our Constitution, which protects our freedom of faith in the same way the Atlantic protected the colonies, and allows us to govern ourselves as we search for meaning and purpose in the world.
RESPONSE

SUMMATION -- Vern




WATER — AN INTERFAITH SYMBOL

Water, used for its spiritual significance in many faiths, has become a symbol of interfaith cooperation here, drawing on our “City of Fountains” designation. (Kansas City is said to have more fountains than any city in the world except Rome.)
     For years I have been collect-ing water, from my journeys and from friends as they travel. Into a jar I have poured water drawn from the Rhine, Seine, Tiber, Danube, Nile, Jordan, Thames, Mekong, Amazon, Ganges, St Lawrence, Yangtze, Volga, Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Euphrates, Kaw, the Bosporus, the Sea of Japan, and many other rivers, lakes,  puddles, and such around the world. This collection has been the basis of the waters described below.
     * In 2001, at Kansas City’s first interfaith conference,  water was collected from 14 area fountains — from Independence to Lenexa — and 14 representatives of different faiths poured the waters to-gether to emphasize that our many faiths make one community. These were added to the collection of waters of the world noted above, just as folks from around the world have come to Kansas City and blessed us with their traditions. When the 250 participants unanimously adopted a Concluding Declaration, and came forward to sign it, each person received a vial to dip into the mingled waters to take home to pour on something to grow, as a reminder of the growth we experienced by mingling with one another. This added meaning to the logo for the “Gifts of Pluralism” conference, evident in the photo on page 1.
    * On the morning of September 11, 2002, members of many faiths gathered for an anniversary observance by pouring waters from their own religious centers into the pool at Ilus Davis Park, between City Hall and the Federal Justice Center, to represent the tears we have offered for those who have suffered because of the terrorist attacks, and for all who have been injured in any way. CBS-TV showed a portion of the ceremony in a nation-wide broadcast.
     The waters thus joined were taken to Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral where the city's central observance was held that evening. There each member accepted a portion of the mingled water to take to each respective religious community.
     It was said, “Peoples of many faiths were killed by the terrorists. Tears are an honorable part of our response to the horrors. In our common grief, we are united. But now it is time to transform the water of tears into waters of puri-fication, renewal and refreshment. The waters need to extinguish the fires of hatred, wash away our self-righteousness, and well up as healing fountains of the heart.”
     The waters were also taken to sites around the metro area for use in other interfaith services that evening. For example, St Mark’s Catholic Church liturgist Susan Walker, with her interfaith ritual team, used the water to speak the best of America at the Community of Christ Auditorium.
     Water as an interfaith symbol speaks of cleansing, renewal, rebirth, and refreshment. But it also recalls the countless people who found ways to respond to the tragedy, including the emergency workers. (It evokes memories of frontier America: if the barn caught fire, the entire community came out, formed a bucket brigade from the nearest water source, and did their part to put out the fire.)
     The fountain on the rostrum was silent until Independence Mayor Ron Stewart and Raytown Mayor Sue Frank received buckets of water being passed the entire length of the north aisle, hand to hand, by more than 50 uniformed police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel and others. As the fountain filled, the water began speaking, circulating and spilling from an upper basin to the larger lower pool.
     With the physical act of handing off buckets, the brigade volunteers became members of each other, and those who were witnesses gazed deeper into the best of humanity, and found comfort and consolation.
     Something as ordinary as water, transformed by the intentions of those of many faiths in ritual reminder, can speak to us as words cannot. A simple action like hand-ing a bucket of water to another person, deepening community, helped us face a tragedy that is unspeakable.
     * The waters have also been part of interfaith explorations of high school students. Each year fifty gather at the Kauffman Foundation for a day of encountering students from other schools and other faiths. American Indians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, FreeThinkers, and others have brought water collected from their institutions to share with the others, and taken a vial of the mingled waters home with them as a reminder of the shared experience of growth.
     * Jews may bathe in a mikvah, Christians practice baptism, Muslims observe ablutions, the Shinto tradition includes misoge —  almost every faith has some way of using water to develop a sense of transcendent reality, as the Water Ceremony above demonstrates. While the different ways the var-ious faiths use water should not be confused, water is a natural symbol of the spirit in interfaith settings. Without water, we die.
    *  About misoge —At the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture some years ago, I came to understand what encountering kami might be like. After dressing in a white loincloth and headband, clapping and bowing, some physical exercises, and a drink of sake with salt, I was placed under a waterfall so strong that I felt I merged with the stream, itself considered kami. My skin vibrated as much as the water, it seemed. This ritual cleansing is called misogi and aims to restore the union of kami and human.
     The rush of the water and the loss of my sense of personal identity in its flow helped me understand why sometimes kami is considered more a verb than a noun. The divine is not so much a being as a process. Kami is less a way of saying that there are gods and more an affirmation that the universe is “god-ing,” like water flowing onward, outward, inward. --Vern Barnet
    *  Some water quotations:
    Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. . . . I am haunted by waters. —Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
     You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. —Heraclitus
     And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God . . . . —Revelation 22:1-2
     The fall of dropping water waes away the stone. —Lucretius
     How do you preserve a drop of water? Throw it back into the ocean. —the Buddha
     Foul water will quench fire. —British proverb
     The best is like water. Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in [lowly] places that all disdain. This is why it is so near to Tao. —Lao-tzu




OLD STUFF


LOCATION
"Richard L. Berkley River Front Park is located on the South Bank of the Missouri River, between the Paseo Bridge (I-35) and the Heart of America Bridge (Highway 9). From the north, east or south, take the Front Street exit (4B) from interstate 35/29. After you are off the Interstate go West on Front Street and the Park will be on your right. [[[From the West take Grand Boulevard north through the River Market, across the John Gage [Grand Avenue] Viaduct, to Riverfront Drive]]]. Note: The Paseo Bridge is closed. If arriving from the north, check www.kcrivercrossings.org for alternative routes across the Missouri River."

Because I find the map on the offical web site confusing, and I'm told that one can enter the parking lot only from I-29, I made this one. Most folks will be coming from the south, so note the red arrow I've added and the red squares into the park. When I was there Friday, the reserved parking lot was in a fence, and the spot is marked with a red "X". THEY NOW SAY DO NOT USE GRAND AV VIADUCT -- USE I-29.

They ask you to arrive before 9:30 am. My son, Ben Barnet, will have courtesy parking passes for you at the entrance to the parking area.
 

On your way to the park via I-29, you'll see the detour sign -- you must exit at Front Street -- see the map above.  You'll pass the Isle of Capri boat and on you7r right will be the marker to the park. The left bottom photo is the permanent structure between two smaller ones, west and across the road from the parking area. The stage is directly north of this structure. Pls report to the stage at 9:30 for some reason -- the organizers have requested this. We will begin with the song a few minutes before 10. Following our interfaith presence, is a "gospel choir" of six people, I think. You are welcome to remain, roam the grounds, or leave after our work.

presiding Vern Barnet cell 816 679  1633


ALTERNATE LINES From the 2002 PROGRAM
American Indian
Oh Great Spirit, we give thanks to you in the West from whence the Thunderbeings’ cleansing rains come to replenish our Mother the Earth. Oh Grandfather, may the element of water remind us always of your blessings so that we may walk in compassion and Love for all our brothers and sisters. Aho, mitakuye oyasin.  RESPONSE: May these . . . .

Bahá’í
The Bahá’í Faith offers the affirmation that all men and women are “waves of one sea,” and the assurance that “these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the Most Great Peace shall come.”  RESPONSE

Buddhist
As waters flow purifying the stream, so may the stream of our consciousness be cleansed of anger, fear, and envy so that our hearts may be like the universal solvent accepting all in compassion.
RESPONSE

Christian Protestant
As waters from many streams are reconciled in the sea, so may be we reconciled with the power of cleansing love as we are reconciled with God and our neighbors.  RESPONSE

Christian Roman Catholic
Loving God, you have created this water to refresh and cleanse us. Let it be a reminder to us of your healing power which quenches our thirst, sustains our bodies and renews our spirit. May this water, which has been gathered throughout our community, show us the oneness of the human family.
RESPONSE

Jewish
Let justice well up like fresh water, and honesty roll in full tide.  RESPONSE

Hindu
Just as different streams having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea, so, oh Lord, different paths which men take through different leanings, various though they appear, curved or straight, all lead to Thee.  RESPONSE
Vedanta
The root of violence is ignorance of the divine nature of all beings which unites us. As the waters we drink become a part of our being, so the path of the healing yogas is knowing ourselves.  RESPONSE

Muslim
Islam offers brotherhood and humanity. Religion gives us the means to smooth human arrogance, vanity, and hatred as this water smoothes rocks and mountains. Our faith gives us the courage of the holy and divine that illuminates our way to civility, humbleness, justice, and peace as this water douses fires and flames.
RESPONSE

Sikh
As amrit is water sweetened with dedication, so our lives are sweetened by the service we offer to others.
RESPONSE

Sufi
As the water in a fountain flows as one stream, but falls in many drops divided by time and space, so are the revelations of the one stream of Truth. The water that washes the Heart is the continual running of the Love-Stream.   RESPONSE

Unitarian Universalist
We offer the gift of responsibility, the life giving force that flows in and through us as we work together for peace and justice. As rivers gather into the sea, so we acknowledge the wisdom and insight each of the world’s religions bring to our relationship with the divine and each other.   RESPONSE

Wiccan
Without water our muscles atrophy, the carriage of nutrients slows, the body assumes attack. Likewise without compassion we become apathetic, communication breaks down and fear becomes our motivator. The wisdom of water is that of nourishment and perpetual shift in perspective. We cannot live without it.  RESPONSE

Zoroastrian
The Wise Lord made the wind and the clouds, and the refreshment of the rains on the parched soil. Let us become the refreshment in our community that new life may grow and flourish.  RESPONSE