Interfaith panel to discuss sustainability

By Ellie Phillips | 10/2/13 5:44pm

Grand Valley State University, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, will be hosting the first interfaith panel in Grand Rapids to discuss environmental sustainability.

“The event is an interfaith panel that addresses an issue that concerns all peoples of all faiths around
the world—the environment,” said Katie Gordon, program manager for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute
of GVSU. “The panel will bring in representatives from four different religious traditions to give insight
into what their beliefs say about sustainability.”

Before now, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has hosted Interfaith Service Days, events geared
toward creating conversation about the relationship between sustainability and religion. The
community has hosted more than 300 of these interfaith events, including panels, during the Kaufman
Interfaith Institute’s 2012 Year of Interfaith Understanding project.

“This event will be a great way to show the deep connection between our world faiths and our physical
world,” Gordon said. “We’re looking forward to having this important conversation go on in our

Though this is the first panel on interfaith and sustainability, this is Habitat for Humanity’s second
interfaith event. Last year, the organization hosted the Faith and Poverty forum, an event that was
well-received, even though it was held during the summer when most college students were out of
school. This year’s Faith and Environmental Sustainability event was planned around the academic
schedule to enable as many college students as possible to attend.

“Habitat Kent County plans to host a similar event yearly that relates somehow with Habitat’s mission,
or method of operation,” said Mark Ogland-Hand, the organizer of the event and Faith Relations
director for Kent County’s Habitat for Humanity. “Environmental sustainability was chosen this year
because Habitat takes sustainability issues seriously and is one of the largest residential LEED builders
in the Midwest. This commitment grows out of our faith and our commitment to help the families we

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings are some of the most sustainable
building types around. GVSU has 15 LEED-certified buildings.

“We have invited many different people from different temples, churches, mosques, and etcetera from
around the Grand Rapids area, not to mention staff and students of Grand Valley,” said Chelsea Smith,
a GVSU senior who helped organize the event. “I am not sure on the numbers that are going to attend,
but it looks like we are going to have a good turnout.”

The event is free and open to the public and will be held Oct. 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Loosemore
Auditorium on GVSU’s Pew Campus.

For more information, visit

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