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Organizational Information on this page

    1.   Our vision.
    2.   Our guiding question and values.
    3.   Our mission and work.
    4.   Advancing the guiding question.
    5.   Our response to the three great crises of our time with the collection of symbols from the Three Families of Faith and Liberation Movements.
    6.   CRES history in brief.
    7.   Financial gifts welcome. IRS 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Determination Letter
    8.   Testimonials: Meet CRES, a unique (and needed) voice in metropolitan Kansas City.


1. VISION — CRES envisions the greater Kansas City area as a model community honoring interfaith relationships
     •  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 fragmented, desacralized world.

2. VALUES  — Our guiding question is “What is sacred — what is so important that my life depends upon it, that I would die for it — and what may I do to understand, honor and share it?”
         •  Kinship – We are kin to all persons; we seek inclusiveness in relationships.
         •  Mutual understanding – We understand ourselves by understanding others.
         •  Mutual respect – We recognize that others have a right to their own faiths and we have a deep respect for others’ traditions.
         •  Mutual development – Genuine interfaith encounter leads to mutual purification and the deepening of our own traditions.
         • Mutual assistance – We need each others’ insights to respond to the crises of secularism.

3. MISSION: To honor the sacred wherever it appears, to support its appearance everywhere, especially by promoting understanding among peoples of all faiths in Kansas City and beyond.


      •  promote interfaith dialog and cooperation,

      •  provide insight into the problems and possibilities of global community,

      •  support and enhance goals and programs of existing Kansas City religious and educational organizations,

      •  interpret religious dimensions of American and international culture

      •  enrich and refresh the life of the individual, and

      •  deepen awareness of our participation in the natural environment.

4. ADVANCING THE GUIDING QUESTION: What is sacred, what is so important that my life depends upon it, that I would die for it, and what may I do to understand, honor, and share it?  — CRES advances groups and individuals exploring and experiencing this question from many perspectives.

We advance rich, diverse and unifying answers found in the three families of world religions. Primal traditions have generally found their answers to our guiding question in the realm of nature, Asian religions in the self, and monotheistic faiths in history. The task now is to see how nature, self, and history interpenetrate and form one another.

We also advance the connectedness of all areas of life — the arts, education, science, social issues, business, sports, the home. Our guiding question helps to reveal this connectedness, which then restores us to larger vision and purpose, surer judgment, greater effectiveness, deeper enjoyment and wider service.

The context is global; our work is local. As the world's religious leaders meet to understand each other, so we promote understanding in Kansas City among those who seek a respectful exchange among the faiths and for those who wish an educational approach to cultural questions affected by religion.

By working as consultants on site in client facilities — in a church, a business, a home, a classroom, a gallery, or a theater — we support individuals and community groups with lectures, workshops, retreats, personal consultation, rites and ceremonies, and interfaith development.

5. RESPONSE  to the three great crises of our secular age
        1. Environmental destruction
        2. Personal misdirection
        3. Social fragmentation
    and the collection of symbols from the Three Families of Faith and Liberation Movements represents sources of healing in response to these dangers.

Three Families of Faith and Liberation Movements

The religions of the world can be placed (with exceptions and many qualifications) into three families according to the realm in which they locate the Sacred, the very realms in which the three great crises appear. Contemporary liberation movements are also spiritual sources for many people.

For more information about

    * the symbols of world religions,
    * the characteristics of each family of faith, or
    * the three crises of secularism

send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to CRES, Box 4165, Overland Park, KS 66204

2007 June 13
Some Interfaith Milestones in the Kansas City Area 
These highlights do not include interfaith social services or political efforts.

1982 — CRES (“World Faiths Center for Religious Experience and Study”) organized as a Kansas not-for profit; developing of interfaith relationships.

1985 — First Annual Thanksgiving Sunday Interfaith Family Ritual Meal, hosted by various sites, with annual awards

1985 Dec 31 — First Annual World Peace Meditation, since grown into an interfaith gathering

1989 May 11 — CRES organizes and hosts the Kansas City Interfaith Council

1990 — “Religion and the Media” conference at Rockhurst University with the KC Press Club 

1994 — Wednesday “Faiths and Beliefs” column and Saturday rotating faith writers added to The Kansas City Star  in recognition of the area’s religious diversity

2001 Sep 16 — Interfaith Ingathering after 9/11 at Johnson County Community College

2001 Oct 27-28 — “Gifts of Pluralism” conference, with 250 attending from 15 faith groups from A to Z, American Indian to Zoroastrian; Concluding Conference Declaration unanimously voted; outcomes include interfaith book clubs, The Hindu and the Cowboy and Other Kansas City Stories, the “Interfaith Passport.”

2002 Sep 10 — Jackson County Diversity Task Force presents its 77-page report and recommendations to 5-county area

2002 Sep 6 — National Catholic Reporter devotes full page to “Interfaith Passport” program

2002 Sep 11 — A day-long interfaith observance of 9/11 beginning at Ilus Davis Park at daybreak and ending with a massive observance at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral; the day included KC Symphony, Ballet. and Opera participation

2002 Oct 13 — Network CBS focuses a half-hour special on Kansas City’s interfaith activities 

2004 Oct 13 — Interfaith conference for religious leaders

2005 Jan 1 — Kansas City Interfaith Council becomes independent not-for-profit

2005 Jan 30 — First Salaam Shalom Celebration 

2005 Feb 11 — Public and the Mayor’s reaction to the remarks at the Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast 

2005 Nov 10 — First Annual “Table of Faiths” Luncheon

2005 May 11 — Repeat Interfaith conference for religious leaders

2006 Jan 22 — Second Annual Salaam Shalom Celebration

2006 Nov 14 — Second Annual “Table of Faiths” Luncheon

2007 June 13-27 — Nation Pilot Interfaith Academies held in Kansas City

2009 —North America Interfaith Conference to be held in Kansas City

Symbols for Kansas City Religions

The symbols are arranged alphabetically.
   1. The thunderbird from the American Indians represents not only lightening and thunder and rain itself, but the refreshment and renewal of nature itself.
   2. The nine-pointed star reminds is that nine is the largest single-digit number in the decimal system, and thus represents completion of revelation for the Bahá’í faith.  Bahá’í temples have nine sides.
   3. For Buddhists, the lotus signifies enlightenment because of its purity, and the Buddha is often portrayed on a lotus pedestal.
   4. The Christian cross, with horizontal and vertical reaches, unites the divine and the mudane, as Christ was both God and man. The cross symbolizes the sacrificial character of redemption.
   5. The syllable “Om” is a sacred mantra, or chant, in Hinduism. Its pronunciation is a cosmic affirmation of the sacred reality which we often ignore.
   6. The six-pointed star of David is a common symbol for Judaism and often used for decoration in synagogues and on ritual objects.
   7. While Islam has no official symbol, the star and crescent often appears in Muslim contexts. Some say the moon reminds them of the beginning of the month of fasting, Ramadan.
   8. The Sikh khanda is a double-edged sword representing the obligation to defend the defenseless, in a circle which can remind us of God.
   9. The flying heart is a Sufi symbol for love. The five-pointed star and the crescent moon represent the giving and receiving of divine light.
   10. The flaming chalice is a Unitarian Universalist symbol. The merging circles recalls the merged movements, and the fire and chalice represent wisdom and devotion.
   11. Wiccans and other pagans often use the upright pentagram as a symbol of transmission with the spirit world and the four elements joined with spirit.
   12. The Zoroastrian fire altar represents the unquenchable power of wisdom and righteousness.

Primal religions include those of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Maya, Inca and Germanic folk religions, and living religions of American Indians, tribal Africans, Australian aborigines and today's neo-pagans or Wiccans. In general, primal religions locate the sacred in the world of nature.

Asian faiths include Confucianism and Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism and Shinto (really a nature tradition). Although developed within Islam, Sufism has characteristics of this family. In general, Asian religions locate the sacred in the realm of consciousness.

Monotheistic traditions include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Many would also include Sikhism, Baha'i, Unitarian Universalism, Zoroastrianism, and American civil religion in this family.  In general, monotheistic religions find the sacred revealed in the history of covenanted community.

Liberation movements include environmental work, peace efforts, racial healing, women's and men's explorations, communal experiments, 12-step programs, and gay liberation. These can be manifestations of fresh understandings of the sacred.

CRES values the contribution of each distinctive faith in healing the crises of our age -- and finds it important to honor and preserve their distictions. See our motto above. Much of following material in color is charted on our home page at

Environmental  Primal  Nature  Superstition
Personhood Asian Consciousness Narcissism
Relationships  Monotheistic Community Self-righteousness
Oppression Liberation groups Integration Isolation / Incest

Examples to be considered:
        1. Environmental destruction
            -- pollution (toxic wastes, as from the auto)
            -- overpopulation
            -- loss of diversity of species
        2. Personal misdirection
            -- addiction (substances, consumerism, power)
            -- dependencies (handling others' feelings)
            -- prejudice (sexism, racism, classism, homophobia)
            -- loss of a sense of vocation
        3. Social fragmentation
            -- violence (in movies, video games, real life "solutions" to problems)
            -- exploitation (disparity between rich and poor)
            -- disengaged citizenry  (private over common weal)
            --use of religion by political leaders to divide peoples from each other

6. CRES HISTORY IN BRIEF [needs updating]

Purpose and Beginning of the Organization— CRES is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting understanding among peoples of all faiths in the greater Kansas City area. Originally the “Center for Religious Experience and Study” until its name change in 2000, CRES was founded by the Reverend Vern Barnet in 1982. He recognized that most people were unaware of the religious diversity within the community, and that prejudice impeded the understanding of shared values. He created avenues for interfaith dialog and education. All faiths pursue the holy — what has ultimate worth, supreme value — and their different expressions of it can enlarge the perspectives we have of our own faiths.

Achievements —  From 1982 to 1999, the operations of CRES were limited to Dr. Barnet’s personal investment of time and money—his “gift” to the community. Accomplishments during this period were many, including:
   •   The Interfaith Council, representing 13 faith communities in the Metropolitan area, was convened, with American Indian, Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian Catholic, Christian Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Sufi, Universalist Unitarian, Wiccan and Zoroastrian participation. The Council’s Speakers Bureau is used now almost every week.
   •   Because of his knowledge of the many traditions in town, in 1994 The Kansas City Star asked Dr. Barnet to begin a “Faiths and Beliefs” column which appears each Wednesday in the paper’s FYI section.
   •   Many Paths, a newsletter with significant readership, began regular publication. The newsletter features a monthly informative essay, a column by Dr Barnet, monthly digests of world, national, and Kansas City area religious news, a calendar of religious holidays, CRES program listings, announcements of interfaith interest sponsored by other organizations, a 4-page “keeper” reference supplement, and other features.
    •   An extensive web site,, which provides community contacts, organizational news, and archived resources.
    •   A community-wide interfaith ritual meal on the Sunday before Thanksgiving has become a 15-year Kansas City tradition. Last year Mayor Kay Barnes received the CRES annual award presented at the dinner.
    •   Dr. Barnet gained a national reputation as a speaker on spiritual issues and became an adjunct professor at the Kansas City campus of Ottawa University where he teaches world religions and related subjects. An extensive local network provides many speaking and consulting opportunities.

Recent Community Support and Expansion — In 1999, members of the community saw the value of Dr. Barnet’s work and wanted to expand it and make his vision sustainable. A Board of Directors was formed, recruiting from business, spiritual, and volunteer leaders in the metropolitan area. A part time administrative assistant was hired and financial systems installed. Financial resources are limited, but current programs are being enlarged and enhanced. As resources are available, there are plans for a certification program for interfaith consultants.
     CRES is important to our community because religion is a fundamental source of human values. Unless respect for different cultures becomes acceptable, religion can lead to conflict and misunderstanding. Interfaith exchange informs our perspectives on current issues and secures our local community.
     CRES is developing a collaboration with NCCJ, Kansas City Harmony, and Spirit of Service, as well as cooperation with many other organizations to promote and ensure the acceptance of religious diversity. Local churches and other religious communities have participated in the interfaith dialog. Because Kansas City has become part of a global community, there is a danger that we may become fragmented. By celebrating and respecting our diversity, together we will become stronger.
   A major achievement was the first interfaith conference in the history of Kansas City, “The Gifts of Pluralism,” held at the Ward Parkway (State Line) Pembroke Hill School campus, Oct  27-28, 2001, with 250 people from 15 faiths from A to Z (American Indian to Zoroastrian). Funding was provided by the Bank of America as Trustee of the George and Elizabeth Davis Trusts, the Ewing M Kauffman Fund for Greater Kansas City, DST, the Norman and Elaine Polsky Fund, the Bank of Blue Valley, and Community Christian Church, with smaller gifts for scholarship funds from numerous individuals. The facility was provided as an in-kind gift from Pembroke Hill School. The conference fee was $75; donations made student scholarships and other subsidies possible. An archive of extensive press coverage, including The Kansas City Star editorial, and other reports about the conference can be found at From the conference a number of new programs have emerged, especially important in the light of the terrorism of September 11, 2001.
     For information about CRES Board and staff members, return to the bottom of the home page.

QUICK UPDATE -- WIth the emeritus status of our president, Vern Barnet, a refocus is appropriate.

Stakeholders — CRES members are not the only stakeholders. Individuals and groups within the community use CRES as an interfaith resource and referral center. • When an organization needs an interfaith invocation, • when the owner of a specialized book collection needs advice about to whom to donate the books, • when a family is confused by a child's interest in an unfamiliar faith, • when a church wants a workshop or retreat about sexuality in other traditions, • when a hospital needs to know if Hindus can receive blood products, • when someone wants to know how to address a Buddhist leader, • when chaplains are needed for a national chess tourney held in Kansas City, CRES gets the call. • Whether it's a tour of sacred art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, • assistance with an initiative of the Midwest Bioethics Center, or • consultation with the Heart of America United Way — in these and many other ways, CRES is uniquely or best able to provide networking skills and interfaith knowledge.
      Although CRES has an increasingly public profile, much of its work is quiet, background support for other organizations. Because of the range of its services, CRES is important not just to its members, but to many others affecting the character of the entire community.


CRES is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization with a multi-faith approach.
To make a tax-deductible gift to CRES, send your check to
CRES, Box 4165, Overland Park, KS 66204.
If you would like Vern Barnet or a member of the CRES board to call on you to discuss special ways your gift can be used, call (913) 649 5114
or send us email:

8.  Testimonials: Meet CRES, A Unique (and Needed) Voice in Metropolitan Kansas City

“Through his work as the leader of CRES, Vern Barnet has set a tradition of respect for the many views of what is sacred.  He is the voice of tolerance for the many religious traditions practiced in our community.” — I. J. Barrish, Ph.D.

“The void that too often separates religious groups throughout the community — indeed, throughout the world — is addressed in the unique ministry that Vern Barnet brings to this city through CRES.  His considerable talents, vision and total commitment have fostered mutual understanding and shared experience that serve to heal the brokenness and alienation endemic among peoples.” — John Gregory

“Each major world religion is deeply rooted in a unique world view,  reflected in its rituals, stories, traditions and symbol system.  CRES opens a window to these world faith experiences, inviting our understanding, enrichment and growth.” — Donna W. Ziegenhorn

“Our country was founded on the quest for religious freedom and tolerance. Kansas City is fortunate to have an organization like CRES and a leader as committed and articulate as Vern Barnet to nurture these values in our community.” — Anne S. Canfield

“Thanks to CRES, representatives of all major world faiths throughout the Greater Kansas City area come together, building mutual respect, appreciation and tolerance.  The fruits of these efforts over the years are paving the way for a major Interfaith Conference in the Year 2000, now in the planning.” — Larry Guillot

“CRES is a means for people of good will who practice various faith beliefs in our city to reach each other.” — Joe Archias