Welcome to a Community of Interfaith Understanding!

In promoting interfaith understanding and mutual respect, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute offers a broad range of programming (over 200 events/initiatives each year) that seeks to create a more inclusive and equitable West Michigan Community for persons of diverse cultural and religious/secular/spiritual identities. 

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 worldview traditions to find common ground, foster interfaith cooperation, and elevate individual experiences and stories.

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

What's Happening

Strengthening our communities through conversation. 

Click image for more information. 

Talking Together Initiative

Tired of the toxic level of polarization in the U.S.? Interested in talking with people whose perspective differs from your own in ways that stay constructive? We invite you to join us for a year focused on creating a culture of conversation rather than division. 

The Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse, Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, and WGVU Public Media are pleased to partner for Talking Together: Strengthening our Communities through Conversation, a dialogue initiative aimed at interrupting polarization and investing in the principles of civil discourse and respectful conversation. 

Each month will feature at least one structured activity for students, staff, faculty, and community members to engage in conversation with one another across differences in perspective, identity, and life experiences.

Next Event

Building Trust Across America, One Relationship at a Time

Thursday, March 23rd 4:00 PM

Click image for event details. 

Youth Interfaith Service Day Camps

This summer, the Kaufman Interfaith institute will host our fourth annual Interfaith Summer Service Day Camp with the theme of “Interfaith and Cross-Cultural Equity.” This week-long learning experience is geared toward middle- and high-school age students, of all religious, spiritual, and secular backgrounds, in the greater Grand Rapids area.

During the week, students are exposed to numerous learning opportunities via sacred site visits, volunteering at local service agencies, and interactive simulations. This year, the Summer Day Camp will foster interfaith cooperation, develop student leadership, and provide tools to build an equitable community. Our exploration of these issues aims to help students

  • better understand the lived experiences of members of our communities
  • identify barriers and equip students with leadership tools to overcome them
  • develop strategies for making West Michigan a more welcoming and inclusive place for all.

Click the poster for more information. 

Video of panel discussion at Aspen Ten Years of Religious Pluralism event

Event Video

Building Interfaith Bridges: West Michigan’s Journey toward Principled Pluralism.

Interfaith efforts in our area were recently recognized by the Aspen Institute. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Aspen’s Religion & Society Program, they released a report titled, Building Interfaith Bridges: West Michigan’s Journey toward Principled Pluralism.

This study traces the beginnings of interfaith relations and the Kaufman Institute going back to the 1980s in Muskegon and in Grand Rapids. It also documents the development of Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogues, the Academic Consortium conferences, and the various special years beginning with the Year of Interfaith Understanding, as well as the years which focused on Service, Friendship, and Healing.

We are excited that our local and regional efforts are being recognized by this respected national organization. Our Director, Doug Kindschi, was on a panel with other interfaith leaders including Eboo Patel, president of Interfaith America. 

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Page last modified March 21, 2023