Our

History

The Pilgrim Center and its predecessor have been building community in midtown, Kansas City, Missouri for nearly 50 years.

In the late-1960’s, a group of involved neighborhood leaders first gathered in Westport to address the issues of violence and crime that were overtaking their historic neighborhood.

 

Out of their discussions, the Westport Allen Center was born, and two young seminarians, Roger and Liz Coleman, were invited to lead this organization.  
 

 

The Westport Allen Center purchased a building and began offering the space free to groups interested in improving the community.Before long, the first Free Clinic in the area opened, rehearsal space was provided for what would become the Kansas City Ballet, the Allen Edison school was founded, and affordable housing for seniors created in the neighborhood. Making childcare, education, healthcare, senior living, and arts programming available to the area were big steps in rebuilding a healthier community for Westport.

In 1997, the Westport Allen Center merged with the Pilgrim Chapel and was reborn as the Pilgrim Center.  Pilgrim Chapel and the parsonage next door are historic buildings in Hyde Park.  Pilgrim Chapel is a non-denominational space, hosting a variety of religious communities who need a place to gather.  During the AIDS epidemic and the initial panic that accompanied it, Pilgrim Chapel performed memorial services for AIDS victims and their loved ones.

 

Today, the Pilgrim Center continues to pursue the goals of improving the community in which we live for all people. We offer educational, arts, and family-friendly, FREE entertainment opportunities in our midtown community.  Birthed in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, now more than ever, we are working to address systemic racism and to achieve racial equity.  We welcome diversity and invite everyone to join us in offering healthy and  productive activities and venues for involvement to our community.

Our mission is to build a stronger community in Midtown, Kansas City, Missouri.  Please, join us!

Our Team

Rocio Lopez

Rocio started with the Pilgrim Center in 2009 when she began volunteering for the Spring Frolic and Film Festival.

 

In 2019 she started part-time as Assistant to the Director. Rocio coordinates our life event ceremonies schedule, handles all phone and email inquiries, and manages the Pilgrim Center office.

To reach Rocio, call or text (816) 753-6719, or email pilgrim@pilgrimcenterinc.org.

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Rev Vern Barnett

The Reverend Vern Barnett, DMn, known to many through his "Faiths and Beliefs" column in Wednesdays The Kansas City Star, and through other media appearances, his civic activities and guest lectures, is the primary officiant at the Pilgrim Chapel, as well as the Center for Religious Experience and Study minister emeritus. He founded the interfaith council in 1989. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, and secular groups have honored his work promoting understanding of the faiths in our community. 

For more information about Vern or CRES, visit their website, www.cres.org or email Vern at vern@cres.org.

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Our Board

Joe Keal

Joe has lived and worked in the Kansas City metro area since 2002.

 

As a native of rural southeast Kansas,
he believes in the notion of “community” as a catalyst for diversity, social interaction and engagement, the arts, connection to nature, sustainability, well-being, beauty and economic stability + prosperity. He believes that we must invest in our community in
order to witness forward movement.


Joe is a Principal | Architect | Design Studio Director with BNIM Architects in Kansas City, Missouri, where he serves as a national leader for the firm’s design practices of cultural, performance and visual arts; higher education; K-12 education; and sustainable design.

 

Most importantly, Joe is also a devoted husband, father, artist, sports coach, photographer, cyclist and
energetic advocate for the ability of design to enhance and enliven the human condition.

Kamera Meaney

Kamera Meaney currently serves as the Special Programs Manager for Truman Medical Centers (TMC) where she oversees community and strategic programs and projects within the Nursing Division and in collaboration with other organizational
partners.

 

Raised in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Kamera is committed to the betterment of the community in which she lives, works, and plans to raise her family.

She hopes to channel her passion and background of addressing social determinants and disparities and social justice to furthering opportunities for the community in which the Pilgrim Center serves.
 

Currently, Kamera is in the Board of Directors Leadership role of Secretary.
In her free time, Kamera enjoys spending time with her family and is constantly training for marathons!

Gordon Gee

Gordon Gee went to Harvard Law School in the late 1960s during a turbulent time in our country’s history, with the goal of learning how to help people resolve problems.

 

After law school, he was a law clerk for Federal District Court Judge John W. Oliver. Thereafter, he went into private practice, and in 1990, his Kansas City law firm—Rich, Granoff, Levy & Gee—merged with Burrell, Seigfreid & Bingham to become Seigfreid, Bingham, Levy, Selzer & Gee, P.C.

 

While the name has been simplified to reflect the firm’s modern nature, Gordon’s over 40 year business litigation and securities arbitration practice is still active and well.
 

When he’s not practicing law, Gordon loves spending time with his wife, three grown children, and grandchildren; and doing volunteer work with his church and numerous other charitable and civic organizations. He also enjoys staying active by playing basketball and playing on Seigfreid  Bingham’s softball team.

Photo by Evening Star Photography

Amanda Garner

Amanda is a mother, yogi, social activist, and board member. She lives in Brookside and has enjoyed living in the midtown area for many years.

 

Amanda currently has a children's yoga program inside early childhood centers and
Title 1 schools.

 

When she isn't teaching, Amanda enjoys walking through the city, visiting one of the many coffee shops in the city, baking for the houseless, or wandering in nature.


Amanda is excited to serve on her first board and to see the Pilgrim Center continue to offer services and activities that provide for mental-emotional wellness and unite the community.

Our Director

Amelia McDaniel

No stranger to the Pilgrim Center, Amelia and her family lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood for 12 years before moving to Pendleton Heights. 

Of those 12 years, for 8 of them, Amelia served as program coordinator of Pilgrim Center's community programs. 

Amelia has also served on the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association Board and was one of the neighborhood moms to organize and lead the Hyde Park Playgroup that continues to meet weekly. 

We are excited to see Amelia continue to serve the midtown community in this new role, and to lead Pilgrim Center into its next phase of life. 

Kurt Hamilton

Kurt grew up in Springfield, Missouri but now resides in the Kansas City area to pursue his career. As a resident of Kearney, Missouri, he serves as the Program Director for the Kearney Enrichment Council (KEC), a local nonprofit organization dedicated to improving their residents' quality of life.


Kurt has always been passionate about serving others, and that is what drew him to his current position at the KEC. To accomplish their mission, the KEC focuses
on four primary areas: 1) enriching the lives of their youth, families and senior adults;

2) producing community events that celebrate the heart and heritage of their community; 3) providing amenities and infrastructure that support the
revitalization of their historic downtown, using Missouri Main Street methodologies; and 4) providing nourishment for those in need at the Kearney Food Pantry.


Kurt enjoys spending time with his family, friends, and dog. When you can’t find him in the office, you can usually find him on a soccer field, his art studio, or volunteering at his church.

Gary Ebersole

Dr. Ebersole recently retired from his professorship at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He is an expert in Japanese religions, and specializes in the comparative-historical study of religion.

 

His current interests include religion and emotion, including the phenomenon of ritual weeping; religion and the body; and religion as it relates to issues of time and
space. He is the author of Ritual Poetry and the Politics of Death in Early Japan (Princeton University Press), and Captured by Texts: Puritan to Postmodern Images of Indian Captivity (University of Virginia
Press).


Long-time resident of the Hyde Park neighborhood in Kansas City, Gary and his wife Noriko are neighbors to the Pilgrim Chapel. Gary has served on the Pilgrim Center Board of Directors for many
years.

Claire Bishop

Claire is an experienced leader and a passionate believer in the power of community. A proud KC native, Claire has spent the last 15 years of her career in
global marketing and leadership roles. She served travel and tourism clients as Senior VP Media at MMGY Global, and went on to lead brand and marketing efforts during a time of significant organizational transformation as the Vice President of Marketing at KC-based global organization Children International.

 

She is currently the Executive Director and COO at American Public Square, an organization that brings non-like-minded people together for civil discourse about important issues in the community.
 

Throughout her career, Claire has committed personal time and energy to advancing the missions of organizations working within the Kansas City area.

 

She lives with her husband, daughter and
two dogs (that act like cats) in a condo in the midtown area.

Contact us:

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3807 Gillham Road

Kansas City , MO 64111

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@pilgrimcenterkc @pilgrimlabyrinthkc 

@pilgrimchapelkc @pilgrimrunkc

816.753.6719

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