The History

The Greater Waco Interfaith Conference (originally named the Waco Conference of Christians and Jews) began in February 1980 at a meeting hosted by Dr. Gary Cook.

Mrs. Payton Kolb of the Arkansas Conference of Christians and Jews challenged those present to organize a Conference of Christians and Jews in the Waco area.

Dr. Cook immediately took the challenge and invited the community to attend a discussion around the subject of forming a Waco chapter of The Conference of Christians and Jews. Thus, on March 6, 1980 the first meeting of the Waco chapter of The Conference of Christians and Jews met.

The first program sponsored by The Conference of Christians and Jews was a worship service in remembrance of the Holocaust in September of 1980 at Baylor University.

The first Annual Dinner was held in 1981. The Humanitarian Award was established and Judge Abner McCall was the first honorary chairperson.

In 1982, a seminar was conducted on the dangers of the Ku Klux Klan and Dr. James Wood was the speaker. Also, the second Annual Dinner was held with Senator Frank Church as the main speaker. Bernard Rappaport served as honorary chairperson.

In 1983 the “Tour of Understanding” was established. Board members and the community were invited to visited Rodef Shalom (Jewish synagogue) for dialogue.

Monsignor Mark Deering served as the honorary chairperson for third Annual Dinner. Bernard Rappaport was honored as the Humanitarian of the Year 1983.Rabbi Podet was initiated as the second President of the Waco Conference of Christians and Jews by Dr. Gary Cook.

In 1984, the “Tour of Understanding” took members to St. Francis on the Brazos Catholic Church. The Fourth Annual Dinner was held in October with Mrs. Evelyn Hoffman honored as Humanitarian of the Year. Mr. Jarrell McCracken served as honorary chairperson and the program was a theatre production of “Masada” with actress Jeannette Clift George. Monsignor Mark Deering was inducted as the third President of the Conference.

As the years passed, board members decided to change the name from The Conference of Christians and Jews to The Greater Waco Interfaith Conference in order to include the growing number of other religions in the Waco area.

In September 2002, the Conference of Christians and Jews officially became known as the Greater Waco Interfaith Conference. At this time, members representing Islam, the Hindu religion, and the Baha’i Faith joined the Board.