Northeast Johnson Countians key forces behind ‘Festival of Faiths,’ kicking off tonight

A scene from “The Hindu and the Cowboy.”

The Festival of Faiths, a metro-wide interfaith undertaking born in northeast Johnson County, opens its 2012 run tonight with the highly-praised play “The Hindu and the Cowboy” at the Plaza Library in Kansas City.

The play, written by Fairway resident Donna Ziegenhorn, tells the story of Kansas City area residents of different faiths and cultures. The play is a centerpiece of this year’s festival and will be repeated next Monday, October 8, at Avila University in Orschein Memorial Chapel, Foyle Hall. Both performances are at 7 p.m. A new play by Ziegenhorn, “Bingo on the Boulevard,” will be introduced at this year’s festival at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 7, at the Plaza Library. It focuses on the diversity of Midtown. The performances are staged by the Metropolitan Ensemble Theater. All the performances are free and open to the public.

The festival, launched in 2007, received seed money from Village Presbyterian Church and the church continues to operate as the fiscal agent. Several members of the leadership committee that has guided the festival also had roots at Village even though the committee has included many members from wide faith traditions.

Marilyn Brewster of Prairie Village is a key member of the organizing committee and has been involved for several years. Another founding member was Mission Hills resident Priscilla Wilson.

Over the years, the festival has incorporated speakers, art events, discussion groups and other methods of promoting interfaith exposure and understanding.

The festival started when the group from the original leadership team realized that:

Kansas City includes a wealth of various religions, spiritual practices and interfaith activities

Religion is a major theme in current local, national and international society

Many people are struggling to understand their own faiths and people of faiths which differ from their own.