The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn
bio page CRES minister emeritus email@example.com
Because of the volume of requests I receive,
please accept this immediate response.
If your request is of a personal nature
and this response is inadequate,
please accept my apology here
and send me another email
with "A second request"
in the subject line.
Thank you for understanding.
See also "My Twilight Situation"
Since people are asking:
Why are you not participating in the NAIN conference?
I am very happy to support the June 26-28 NAINConnect 2009 held here in the KC region (Unity Village), and I have promoted the conference through my column in The Kansas City Star several times, most recently 2009 May 13 http://www.cres.org/star/star2009.htm#765 and June 17 http://www.cres.org/star/star2009.htm#770 with a link to additional information, and two links on the CRES home page. I began promoting the conference in my column 2007 May 9 and in many issues of MANY PATHS. CRES is a member organization of NAIN and I personally was on the planning committee for the very first NAIN conference in 1988.
When the idea for the 2009 conference here was initiated, I worked with NAIN officials including a lengthy telephone call in 2006 outlining a plan for the week-end developed by the most senior interfaith leaders in Kansas City and extraordinarily competent group process and PR leaders skilled in informing local folks in ways that they would want to take advantage of the NAIN opportunity. The memo from that call ran 1,900 words so the agreement and understanding was substantial and I never would have guessed it would have been summarily dismissed without consultation with us.
Our proposal was to respond to the frequent request here for a "Gifts of Pluralism 2" conference which would attract hundreds of Kansas City folks who are eager for a follow-up to the extraordinarily successful 2001 conference CRES organized and which would show off the kind of interfaith activity that has attracted national attention to Kansas City. The week-end "Gifts" conference would have been integrated into the larger NAIN conference which would have begun a day or two earlier and extended a day afterwards. The proposal was discussed in detail and accepted, with many particulars worked out from an agenda in writing, as noted above.
The "Gifts" conference would have dealt with the wisdom of the world's faith traditions in addressing our crises in the environment, in personhood, and in how we relate to one another in society, using the Appreciate Inquiry method to maximize participation. Those interested in the first "Gifts" conference can find a summary at http://www.cres.org/gifts with links to additional information.
Subsequently, with, I think, a rotation of officers, the NAIN program committee decided on a different plan. The international committee doubted that people would come to a conference with a similar title. My response was both blistering and cordial. Those I had recruited to work on the conference were no longer energized by the new plan and felt rather frustrated after investing a significant amount of time formulating a plan and in gaining the initial approval. Nonetheless, I understood the international committee's judgment and pledged my support for the conference. Of course the international committee, based on its previous experience, should be assumed to know what is best for the conferences it manages each year, even if that could conceivably fail to maximize local attendance. The NAIN people are there every year, and local folks could naturally be expected to be invited into the ongoing NAIN experience.
Even though I think both our out-of-town guests as well as locals have missed a stupendous opportunity, still, for both interfaith professionals and volunteers, the NAIN conference is an unusual opportunity for folks to learn about other faiths and about effective interfaith work. Plus the conference program offers the opportunity to make wonderful friendships.
Still, there are two reasons why I am not personally attending. When it became clear that the conference would not further the special goals I have for interfaith work in Kansas City, and that (1) the general goals can be achieved perhaps better by my absence, and that (2) I could use the time more productively to work on long-delayed writing projects, it made sense to encourage others to attend but not to attend myself.
1. I am eager to support the now-independent Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. As the founder, it is very important that I fully model recognition of its independence. Although I am happy to respond to requests from the Council, its cosponsorship of this conference is best exercised without my participation. My presence could be confusing to out-of-town guests since the initial plan for the conference with which I was involved was rejected by the national committee. And I would not want to be put in a situation where I am asked to comment on any particular activity as informal evaluation goes on constantly at such gatherings.
2. While I know I would enjoy the conference, at this point in my life, I must set priorities. I would have made a "Gifts" conference a priority since it is aligned with my urgency for contributing to addressing the three crises I mentioned. I do not at this point in my career need additional instruction on how to do interfaith work, and while I would certainly enjoy new friendships, they would take time and likely involve new commitments or requests for service which would detract me from the writing projects I feel I have so little time to complete before I croak.
I can imagine that some would consider this a selfish approach, but I believe my writing projects could be of far more benefit to others than my attendance at the NAIN conference this year.