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Hindus urge West Michigan’s “Year of Interfaith Understanding” to be all-inclusive

Hindus have welcomed West Michigan’s “2012 Year of Interfaith Understanding” initiative, calling it a “step in the right direction”.

The “2012 Year of Interfaith Understanding” is a year-long effort to cultivate community interest and engagement of all faith traditions in West Michigan (USA) in which a partnership led by Grand Valley State University’s Kaufman Interfaith Institute (KII), the Grand Rapids Press, WGVU Public Media, Grand Rapids Mayor’s office, and three organizing councils will seek to promote engagement of the topic of interfaith understanding. The “Year” will culminate in the Triennial Interfaith Dialogue on October 30, 2012, featuring scholars from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

Commending this effort to bring various religions together and finding common ground, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that religion was the most powerful, complex and far-reaching force in our society, so we must take it seriously. And we all knew that religion comprised much more than our own particular tradition/experience.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that in our shared pursuit for the truth, we could learn from one another and thus could arrive nearer to the truth. As dialogue brought us reciprocal enrichment, we would be spiritually richer than before the contact.

Rajan Zed hoped that Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents, and other world religions would be equal participants in this inter-religious experiment if it aimed to become “really inclusive”.

The “Year” involves congregations, campuses, and community organizations in sponsoring sacred space tours, study groups, book clubs, service projects, screenings, speakers, and interfaith service projects in the cities of Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland. Grand Rapids Mayor George K. Heartwell has declared 2012 the “Grand Rapids Year of Interfaith Understanding”. Community public events will be hosted once a month.

Campuses involved include Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, Kuyper College, Calvin Theological Seminary and Grand Valley State University (GVSU); and campus involvement includes interfaith curriculum development also.

Dr. P. Douglas Kindschi is KII Director while Thomas J. Haas is GVSU President.

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