Refugee Crisis is a Humanitarian Crisis: West Michigan Responds

Monday, February 29, 2016

Westminster Presbyterian Church is a co-sponsor of the following event:

Kaufman Interfaith Institute: Contact Doug Kindschi at (616) 331-5702 or
Catholic Information Center: Kelly McLaughlin at (616) 459-7267 or


For Immediate Release February 29, 2016

Refugee Crisis is a Humanitarian Crisis: West Michigan Responds

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan -West Michigan interfaith organizations join together to discuss how the local community can make an impact on the refugee crisis. Officials from the City of Grand Rapids, Bing Goei of the Michigan Office for New Americans along with representatives from Bethany Christian Services, Lutheran Social Services and Welcoming Michigan will be on hand to discuss local refugee programs that are currently in place. They will be joined by several refugees who will share their stories of settling in West Michigan followed by time for discussion and questions.

The major theme of the event is ‘Do Unto Others’. "A fundamental principle in nearly all religions is care for the stranger. We find it in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Scriptures as well as in other religious texts." says Doug Kindschi, Director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.

The event is open to everyone. ”Refugees are paying taxes, buying homes and starting businesses. They are adding so much to Grand Rapids.” Kristine Van Noord, program manager of Refugee Adult and Family Programs at Bethany Christian Services, one of the groups working with refugees in the Grand Rapids area. “We are hoping to be able to engage the public in a meaningful conversation about how each of us can take a stand against terrorism by offering a home to refugees fleeing from it.”

Welcoming Refugees: Do Unto Others
A Conversation on Community Engagement
When: Tuesday, March 8 at 7pm
Where: Catherdral Square-Catholic Information Center
360 Division S, 2nd floor  Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The event is free to attend and parking is free. For more information or to RSVP online go
to or or or call (616-459-7267)

Kindschi adds, "We are moved by the stories of refugees fleeing from violence and war but even more our religious values require us to treat them as persons bearing the image of God. Join with others in our community to hear the refugees' stories, learn what we can do to help, and reach out to these who are also "children of God."

The Kaufman Interfaith Institutes' mission is to promote interfaith understanding and mutual respect in West Michigan through interfaith dialogue and service, we promote a vibrant and diverse community for all generations.

The Catholic Information Center is a mission of the Paulist Fathers in Grand Rapids. Their goal is to help adults discover (or re-discover) the richness of the Catholic tradition through our classes and programs, as well as to promote dialogue and wisdom across all religious faiths.

For an up to date list of co-sponsoring organizations, go to or contact Katie Gordon at

At the date of this press release, the following are co-sponsors:

ACLU of Michigan - Western Branch
Aquinas College Community Leadership Program
Aquinas College Service Learning Office
Baha'i Faith Community of Greater Grand Rapids
Bethany Christian Services
Calvin College Center for Community Engagement and Global Learning Calvin College Middle East Club
Catholic Charities of West Michigan
Center for Inquiry - Michigan
Central Reformed Church
Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
City of Grand Rapids
Congregation Ahavas Israel
Diocese of Grand Rapids
Dominican Center at Marywood
Dominican Sisters - Grand Rapids
Emmanuel Hospice
Faith Alive Books
Fountain Street Church
Genesis United Methodist Church
Grand Rapid's Buddhist Temple and Zen Center
Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission
GVSU Community Service Learning Center
GVSU Division of Inclusion & Equity
Holy Cross Episcopal / Ascension Lutheran Churches
Institute for Global Education
Interfaith Clergy Association of Grand Rapids
Islamic Mosque & Religious Institute - Masjid At-Tawheed
Justice for our Neighbors - West Michigan
Kaufman Interfaith Institute
Kent Intermediate School District
Law Office of Richard Kessler
Lutheran Social Services
Michigan Office for New Americans
MIRC - Welcoming Michigan
National Heritage Academies
St. Luke University Parish
St. Andrews Episcopal Church
Taqueria El Rincon Mexicano
The Cathedral of St. Andrew
The Catholic Information Center
The Salvation Army Social Services of Kent County
Thrive Refugee Services
Trinity Lutheran Church
Trinity United Methodist Church
United Methodist Women
Wesley Fellowship at GVSU
West Michigan Coalition for Immigration Reform
West Michigan Hindu Temple
West Michigan Islamic Center
Westminster Presbyterian Church
World Affairs Council of Western Michigan