Kansas City

Please note: While efforts have been made to verify the locations of religious centers and interfaith organizations maps may not always be accurate or up to date. For those centers without a physical address, a symbol appears at the city center. Read more about our methodology.

Kansas City—long well known for barbeque and jazz—is also home to rich religious and cultural diversity in a metropolitan area of two million people. The historic 18th & Vine Jazz District grew out of the segregation era. Its largely African American population (now about 31 percent of the city’s 460,000 residents) inspired a recent renaissance that features tourist attractions like the American Jazz Museum, the Black Archives of Mid-America, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Kansas City’s evolving landscape boasts a vibrant urban life. Grand new cultural structures by international architects Moshe Safdie and Steven Holl sit beside historic landmarks like the Country Club Plaza and the Garment District. Across the metropolitan area, residents work in innovative ways through the arts, education and social services to achieve a multi-religious and multi-cultural vision: “The Welcoming City.”

The Greater Kansas City Area’s interfaith landscape stretches from Missouri into Kansas, and includes more than twenty organizations dedicated to improving inter-religious understanding. Yet Kansas City’s encounter with religious difference has not been without challenges, including a recent zoning controversy over a Laotian Buddhist Temple. Lama Chuck Stanford, a local Buddhist leader and Treasurer of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) describes the opposition that emerged as “very disheartening.” He continues, “There was such vitriol, anger, and prejudice.” Lama Stanford, a Missouri native with more than twenty years of interfaith involvements, acknowledges, “We still have a lot of work to do.” Yet he remains hopeful for “The Welcoming City,” and its future, adding: “There are so many dedicated people.”