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Interfaith leadership celebrated

  • Douglas Kindschi, Sylvia Kaufman, and award recipient the Rev. Richard Rhem, pastor emeritus of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake.

Posted on March 31, 2014

A special event to honor interfaith leadership was held at Grand Valley on March 27. President Thomas J. Haas and Douglas Kindschi, director of the Sylvia and Richard Kaufman Interfaith Institute, welcomed interfaith leaders and celebrated their impact in West Michigan and beyond.

The first annual Sylvia Kaufman Interfaith Leadership Award was presented to the Rev. Richard Rhem, pastor emeritus of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, where he served 37 years.

“Rev. Rhem was an early supporter of interfaith understanding and an active participant in the Jewish/Christian Dialogues, which began in the 1980s,” said Kindschi, referring to the Muskegon program initiated by Sylvia Kaufman. She went on to establish the West Shore Committee and the Academic Consortium, and Grand Valley established the Kaufman Interfaith Institute in 2007 to honor and continue her efforts.

The event also included an interfaith presentation by David Ford, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University in England and founder and director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme. Ford has written more than 10 books, has lectured throughout the world, and co-founded Scriptural Reasoning, a practice of interfaith reading in small groups representing different faith traditions.

For more information about the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, visit, or call (616) 331-5702.


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