Browse Exhibits (3 total)

St. George Orthodox Cathedral


Digital exhibition on the history of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral and Eighth Day Books, an Orthodox Christian bookstore in Wichita, Kansas.

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Contemporary Pagan Communities of Northeast Kansas

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A Pagan is anybody who practices a religion that is not one of the major world religions. This includes indigenous beliefs of Africa and Asia, but is generally used to describe pre-Christian European traditions. The word Pagan itself comes from the Latin paganus meaning "someone who is not from the city, rather from the country." It also denoted civilians, those who were not soldiers in the Roman Empire military. It was a polytheistic belief system which utilized ritual sacrifice. From it's earliest usage, Pagan had a derogatory connotation. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the term Paganism was applied to any unfamiliar religion, which was assumed to worship false gods. Today many individuals embrace the term Pagan, however, there are some who don't use this term because of its origin in Christian theology, and instead identify only by the name of their particular religious path.

Paganism does not represent any one specific belief system. Most modern Pagan religions existing today express a world view that is pantheistic, polytheistic, animistic, or a combination. However, some are monotheistic Pagans. Paganism is typically classified as an Eath Based religion which believe the earth and all its creatures to be sacred and practitioners try to live in harmony with nature. They see humans, nature, and the divine as interconnected. Pagans tend to worship gods and goddesses whose imagery includes aspects of nature. 

Contemporary Paganism, also known as Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. Some practitioners attempt to reconstruct indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Others, in particular the followers of revival paths such as Wicca and Neo-Druidism, have their roots in 19th century Romanticism and retain noticeable elements of occultism, Eastern philosophy, and Theosophy. 

Northeast Kansas has a vibrant, yet secretive Pagan community. There are six active covens in the area and a handful of Pagan groups. Despite the multitude of Wiccans worldwide, it is still a religion many find mysterious and sinister, while others are unaware it even exists. I endeavor to challenge pre-conceived notions based on ignorance or fear and help share the beauty and goodness of Paganism. This exhibit explores the major beliefs and practices associated with Wicca and other Pagan religions, Witchcraft and magick, major holidays, rights and discrimination, local covens and groups, Pagan stores and resources, six oral histories from local Pagans, a glossary, and bibliographies for further research.

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The Roots of Pentecostalism in Kansas

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Kansas, and especially the capital city of Topeka, provided excellent circumstances for the shaping of new expressions of Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century. The “Roots of Pentecostalism in Kansas” will demonstrate how Kansas’ location as the geographic center of the United States, Topeka’s placement at the intersection of agricultural life and urban life, and the realities of a harsh existence on the Great Plains provided space for religious innovation during a time of great social and economic change.

In Topeka in the late 1880s to the early 1900s, migrants, rural farmers, poor urban whites, and marginalized African Americans attempted to overcome the extreme difficulties of life on the Great Plains as the city urbanized. Charles F. Parham’s Pentecostal movement provided ways to overcome these hardships, through non-traditional expressions of Christianity and social services more welcoming to the disenfranchised than established denominations in Topeka.

This exhibit will examine the Kansas roots of this now world-wide religious movement and share with the public how Parham’s movement responded directly to the needs of Topeka’s growing rural and urban poor, with a commitment to provide laboring people a connection to the divine without intermediaries. 

When viewing this exhibition, consider not only the role religion played in the lives of past Kansans, but how religions evolve and are evolving within the state of Kansas.

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