November 15, 2014
I am retiring from the Council effective December 31, 2014. I have enjoyed the work we have shared for many years. As one of the original members who gathered May 11, 1989, at the Marriott Hotel, and for years met regularly in a living room, to articulate a significant vision, I retire proud of the pilgrimage we have shared. I am pleased with the impact that has been made in the Greater Kansas City area and in the country by our efforts. Our early efforts – including the Gifts of Pluralism Conference, the half-hour CBS-TV national special, the nation’s first Interfaith Academies (made possible by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Religions for Peace USA, and the Saint Paul School of Theology working with the Council and CRES), the 77-page report commissioned by Jackson County after 9/11 in which Council members played a key role, and the special note about one of the products of the Pluralism conference, The Hindu and the Cowboy play on the Harvard Pluralism site – these are a few of many examples of the heritage on which we seek to build, clearly putting Kansas City on the map of the nation as we continue working to create a most welcoming community for all people.
I plan to continue to facilitate a monthly Vital Conversation in the Northland. If the Council would like to continue listing this as a program of the GKCIC I would welcome it. I would love it if the Council’s web site would list the upcoming programs, and if that becomes possible in the future please let me know. If the Council adds links on its website to The Human Agenda and other interfaith organizations in town, I would be happy with such inclusion.
The challenge continues. The three crisis of our time remain serious and some might argue are even greater than when we convened the Gifts of Pluralism Conference in 2001. Creation still screams in agony. Personhood is still threatened by a worship of guns, drugs, and money. Community is still shattered by divisive politics and an arrogant abuse of power by corporations and the very rich. I remain convinced that the World’s Religions, represented in our Council, offers messages, programs and actions of hope. By uplifting the wisdom of the religious traditions identified and unanimously endorsed by the 250 participants at the Gifts of Pluralism conference, we can reach beyond the valuable friendships we presently enjoy, enhance the Council’s visibility and standing in the community, to contribute more effectively the saving message the faiths of the world offer.
I am grateful for interest in, and responses to, the Appreciative Inquiry method, as acknowledged and demonstrated at the Thanksgiving Interfaith Sunday event this year in which the Council participated. I am sure that our friendships will continue.
But we gather not just to feel good about our friendships and community. I count each of you as friends and allies. I hold our work in sacred space as my life enters another phase of retirement. We gather and scatter to offer the world a better message, a more human friendly model and a more sacred path to the future.
Be well and feel good - David E. Nelson