West Michigan Academic Consortium

In 2001, Sylvia Kaufman brought together a group called the West Michigan Academic Consortium in order to extend the work of the West Shore Committee for Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Kaufman Interfaith Institute. The mission of these groups is to provide programming that leads to greater interfaith understanding and mutual acceptance.

The committee consists of representatives from Aquinas College, Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, Cornerstone University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kuyper College and Western Theological Seminary. They jointly choose the speakers and plan the conferences; the participating schools rotate hosting the conferences. 

Current Members

Sylvia Kaufman

Coordinator of the West Michigan Academic Consortium


P. Douglas Kindschi, Ph.D.

Director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute

Dr. Charles Gunnoe (Aquinas College)

Dr. Frans van Liere (Calvin College)

Dr. John Bolt (Calvin Theological Seminary)

Professor John Duff (Cornerstone University)

Dr. Diane Maodush-Pitzer (Grand Valley State University)

Dr. Barry Bandstra (Hope College)

Dr. Lisa Hoogeboom (Kuyper College)

Dr. Robert Van Voorst (Western Theological Seminary)


Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism

Featuring Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D.

Dr. Levine is the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. She has held office in the Catholic Biblical Association, the Association for Jewish Studies, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Dr. Levine’s lecturing on understanding Jesus in his Jewish context corrects false stereotypes, brings new meaning to his piety, politics, practices, and prayers, and offers a new path for Jewish-Christian relations.

Her books include: The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, the edited collection, The Historical Jesus in Context , and the thirteen-volume edited series, Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. Co-author of The Meaning of the Bible: What The Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us. She was co-editor of the Jewish Annotated New Testament and co-authored book, The New Testament: Methods and Meanings. Her most recent book is Short Stories by Jesus: the Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi.

Amy-Jill Levine


Does Religion Have A Future?

Featuring William Schweiker, Ph.D.

Dr. Schweiker is the Director of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and an expert in the field of theological ethics. His scholarship and teaching engage theological and ethical questions attentive to global dynamics, comparative religious ethics, the history of ethics, and hermeneutical philosophy. A frequent lecturer and visiting professor at universities around the world, he has been deeply involved in collaborative international projects.

His books include Mimetic Reflections: Power, Value and Conviction: Theological Ethics in the Postmodern Age (1998); Religion and the Human Future: An Essay in Theological Humanism (2008, with David E. Klemm); and, most recently, Dust that Breathes: Christian Faith and the New Humanisms (2010). Professor Schweiker has published numerous articles and award-winning essays, as well as edited and contributed to six volumes, including, most recently, Humanity Before God: Contemporary Faces of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Ethics (2006).

Morning Lecture

Evening Session


Pauline Polemics in Galatians and Their After Effects and Playing with Fire - Talking About Religion in Public

Featuring Dean Margaret Mitchell, Ph.D.

Dr. Mitchell is the Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School and a literary historian of ancient Christianity. Her research and teaching span a range of topics in New Testament and early Christian writings up through the end of the 4th century, with a special interest in the Pauline letters, the poetics and politics of ancient biblical interpretation, and the intersection of text, image, and artifact in the fashioning of early Christian culture. Dr. Mitchell is the author of four books: Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation (1991), The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (2000), The "Belly-Myther" of Endor: Interpretations of I Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church (2007), and Paul, the Corinthians and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics (2010). 

Page last modified April 20, 2018