Community Photo collage

The spirit of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute is represented in the cooperative programs held in the community to enlighten, inform, and promote inclusivity.

These events bring together diverse voices and faith traditions to find a common ground while still honoring individual experiences.

Whether it is working with others in the community to host a civilized discussion about polarizing issues or organizing a celebration that welcomes all and encourages learning through differences, the institute has found great success carrying out its mission through these community collaborations.

"Through interfaith dialogue and service, we promote a vibrant and diverse community for all generations. Beyond tolerance, we value hospitality, understanding, respect, and acceptance." 

What's Happening

Christian Imperatives for Environmental Care

During the last two weeks, this year's Grand Dialogue featured the theme “Healing Our Earth” with webinars and workshops looking at the religious imperatives on caring for our planet as well as practical steps that can be taken.

You can watch the first panel discussion "Christian Imperatives for Environmental Care" above. 

Interfaith Imperatives for Climate Action

Watch the second part of our Grand Dialogue, "Interfaith Imperatives for Climate Action" above.

We've also compiled a list of local West Michigan Earth week events.


Summer Youth Workshops

Youth Interfaith Leadership Workshops - click for info

Virtual Summer Leadership Workshops geared toward students currently in grades 8-12. Click image for more info.

Kaufman's Weekly Interfaith Insight

"Reflections on Earth Day 50 plus 1" by George Heartwell, Former Grand Rapids mayor and environmental advocate

“I was learning from the water; I was praying with the water.”  -- Waasekom Niim

With Gabe, my then 12-year-old grandson, I glided across the mirror surface of Crooked Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness of Michigan’s western UP.  We had broken camp just as the sun was rising, packed our gear in the Old Town canoe, and pulled out as daylight lit the far shore.  The pair of bald eagles we had seen perched high in the towering white pine on the point last evening were back on watch this morning, perhaps looking for breakfast in the shallow water.  No sound broke the morning stillness, no ripple troubled the lake surface save that of our paddles dipping into the water and our bow carving the glass that held the sky.

I asked of the water: “Will all this be here for Gabe’s grandchildren?”

The water whispered back, “It’s up to you.”

50 plus 1.  That’s how many years ago the first Earth Day was observed.  Climate change was not yet part of the vernacular, though it was recognized by a small cadre of climate scientists.  Still, we knew – the world knew – even then, that Earth is fragile, its resources limited, its health threatened by toxic air emissions and water pollution. 50 plus 1.  Are we better off today?

Species extinction, according to those scientists who map such things, exceeds 200 species per year, a rate of 1,000 times the natural extinction rate. That’s according to the World Wildlife Federation; which also notes other experts put the rate at 10 times these numbers. Climatologists give us not much more than a decade to stem the rate of climate warming before it reaches a “point of no return.”  Non-point source pollution from agricultural run-off, municipal stormwater discharge, and faulty septic system backups are fouling the water of our rivers and lakes, stimulating growth of toxic algae and harming native plants, fish and waterfowl.

Still, I am hopeful.

Read the entire article here

Kaufman's Weekly Watch

The past two weeks we featured the theme “Healing Our Earth” with webinars and workshops looking at the religious imperatives on caring for our planet as well as practical steps that can be taken.

Today’s Weekly Watch features three very brief statements (each less than 2 minutes) from persons who contributed to our webinars.

Hannah Huggett is a high school student in Holland, Michigan, who has been active in our interfaith programs as well as in environmental activism.  She is the leader of a local chapter of the Sunrise Movement which brings youth together to work against climate change, and also model love and justice. Her video is above. 

Wren Hack is the director Hazon Detroit, a Jewish organization focused on environment, health, serving the community. She has a passion for sustainable practice and healthy food. Watch Wren Hack's video here.

Huda Alkaff is an ecologist, environmental educator, and the founder and director of Wisconsin Green Muslims, a grassroots environmental justice group formed to connect faith, environmental justice, sustainability, and healing through education and service. She advocates for environmental justice, initiating Muslim and interfaith programs on energy and water conservation. Watch Huda Alkaff's video here

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