Kevin McIntosh, coordinator of Campus Interfaith Resources, strives to be an advocate for students, faculty and staff members and their religious, spiritual or secular identities.
“We talk about interfaith as bringing communities together in conversation,” McIntosh said. “You are supposed to be able to come to Grand Valley and bring your full self.”
McIntosh earned a bachelor's degree in religion history at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in religious studies at Harvard Divinity School. After working in student life at Harvard and Emory, he applied for the Grand Valley job. He said he was drawn to the position because it represents interfaith within the Division of Inclusion and Equity.
“This office is open to everybody," he said. "Not just for one tradition or lack of tradition or majority or minority tradition. It’s the whole spectrum and that’s what I’m here for.”
McIntosh has a personal connection to his work due to his own religion being challenged while attending Emory University.
“My faith was challenged in a lot of those classrooms and I didn’t know who I could talk to,” McIntosh said. “Residential life professionals didn’t always feel comfortable talking about religion. That’s really where my love of this work comes from. I want to be that person who I wish I had.”
Some of his long-term goals include advocating for students who feel challenged or uncomfortable in their faith or traditions, and promoting religion and spirituality in discussions about campus diversity.
McIntosh is involved in projects to expose students to traditions that differ from their own. He is organizing a tour of sacred sites tours in the Grand Rapids area. The first stop is Masjid at-Tawheed Islamic Center on January 26. For more information, visit the Campus Interfaith website, gvsu.edu/campusinterfaith.
McIntosh said these sacred site trips are not meant to be "observations of the other," but conversations with leaders who practice traditions that may differ from those of tour participants.