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



Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration

We gathered at Temple Emanuel on November 21st for a celebration where many traditions and cultures came together to give thanks for one another and to actively choose gratitude, even in the midst of uncertainty and division. Through song, dance, prayer, and storytelling we shared gratitude with and for our West Michigan neighbors.

Contributing groups included Temple Emanuel, Michigan Humanists, the Grand Rapids Baha'i Community, Masjid Al-Tawheed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Dominican Chapel Marywood, Feeding America West Michigan, Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple , GR Meditation Circle of Self Realization Fellowship, Mars Hill Bible Church, Sikh Society of West Michigan, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, St. Mary Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, West Michigan Hindu Temple Cathedral of St. Andrew, Catholic Information Center and Westminster Presbyterian.  

If you were unable to attend, a recording of the livestream is available here. 

Event video

23rd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration livestream - click to view

Click above to start the video.. 

Program available here

Strengthening our communities through conversation. 

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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

MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity

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

Event Video

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

This September the interfaith efforts of our area were 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 November 29, 2022