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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Lifelong Learning Series Hosts KC Columnist Vern Barnet

Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 15, 2012) – The Rev. Vern Barnet, DMn, a pioneer builder of interfaith dialogue and a weekly religion columnist for “The Kansas City Star,” will present “The World's Religions: Pieces or Pattern?” Wednesday, March 28 at the University of Central Missouri. This free Lifelong Learning (LLL) program at UCM begins at 3:30 p.m. in Elliott Union, Room 235, and is open to anyone.

Barnet gives this characterization of his presentation:  “The confusing details of the world's faiths can fit into a rough and ready scheme which suggests wisdom for our environmental, personal, and social troubles. By asking of each faith, ‘Where do you go to find ultimate meaning?’ we may find a pattern helpful for our own lives and move civilization forward.”

Completing his doctoral work at the University of Chicago and Meadville-Lombard Theological School in 1970, Barnet has since been honored by Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and other groups.  He has taught world religions at several universities and seminaries and has been a columnist for The Star since 1994.  Additionally, his articles and reviews have appeared in many national publications.

Barnet founded the Center for Religious Experience and Study (CRES) in 1982, and was named minister emeritus in 2004. CRES includes participants representing thirteen faiths, from American Indian to Zoroastrian.  In 1989, he organized the Kansas City Interfaith Council, now known as the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. Following 9/11 he led the region’s unprecedented “Gifts of Pluralism” conference which fostered interfaith initiatives featured on a half-hour CBS-TV special. Among his many civic activities, he chaired the Jackson County government’s Diversity Task Force that studied the effects of 9/11 on people of faith in the five-county Kansas City area.

Barnet’s interfaith work led to Kansas City being chosen as the site for the nation’s first “Interfaith Academies” sponsored by Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, Religions for Peace-USA, and other groups. Ellie Pierce, principal researcher for the Pluralism Project, said, “At the Pluralism Project, we consider Kansas City to be truly at the forefront of interfaith relations. This is — in no small part — due to the tireless efforts of Vern Barnet, whose work and writings have been an inspiration to all of us at the Pluralism Project.”

This Lifelong Learning program is cosponsored and partially funded by the Center for Religious Studies and the Office of Community Engagement at UCM.  The goal of LLL is to provide community programs for continued learning for people of all ages.  This program is free for all interested persons. 

For those planning to attend, parking is available in the Visitor parking lot directly south of the Elliott Union.  If Visitor parking is full, the Faculty/Staff or Student parking lots along the south side of Clark Street and the east side of College Street may be used.