Interfaith Dialogue Association

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Fred Stella, President

Deana Weibel, Vice President

Karin Maupin, Secretary

Sheldon Kopperl, Treasurer

Ashley Carter Youngblood

Dani Negus

W. Fred Wooden

Steve Naylor


FRED STELLA began his spiritual search within the Hindu Dharma at the age of 15. He was initiated into his specific tradition over 20 years ago. His training includes time spent in temples and ashrams both here and in India. His articles have appeared in Freeman, India Link and Hinduism Today magazines, and the Grand Rapids Press. For over a decade Fred has held leadership positions in the local chapter of Self Realization Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society in India) , a worldwide society deeply rooted in the Hindu/Yoga system of teaching. He is an ordained Pracharak (which translates to "Outreach Minister") for the West Michigan Hindu Temple. Under the direction of Vivekananda Kendra in 2005 Mr. Stella completed a 30 city lecture tour in India, joining the effort to promote indigenous culture and religion in areas facing the encroachment of Western influence. In 2011 he was a guest of the Niagara Foundation to study interfaith efforts in Turkey. Here in the United States, he has given lectures, facilitated workshops and retreats at schools, churches and in the private sector. Fred is a consultant at GVSU, where he is an instructor of Hatha Yoga and meditation to MBA candidates. He is also president of Interfaith Dialogue Association, and hosts its weekly radio program on Religion and Spirituality, Common Threads on local NPR affiliate, WGVU-FM. Mr. Stella was educated at the University of Detroit, where he majored in Media Studies. Besides IDA, Fred sits on the advisory boards of Grand Dialogue (promoting conversations between Science and Religion), The Kaufman Interfaith Institute and the West Michigan chapter of the ACLU, where he often consults on freedom of religion issues. In 2012 Mayor George Heartwell presented Fred with the city's "Champion of Diversity Award" for his work in interfaith relations

DEANA WEIBEL was born in Orange, California and received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC San Diego in 2001. She began teaching anthropology at Grand Valley State University in 2003 and her most frequently taught class is Comparative Religions. Deana does ethnographic research primarily in Rocamadour, France and Chimayó, New Mexico, studying Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites and their use by both Catholics and people from other religious groups. She has also written on the religious practices of astronauts with her husband, Glen E. Swanson.

SHELDON KOPPERL did his undergraduate work in chemistry at Case Western Reserve University in his home town of Cleveland. There he also undertook some advanced Hebrew studies at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry and the history of science in 1970 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1970 he has taught at Grand Valley University and is Professor of Biomedical Sciences, History of Science, and Religious Studies. His research interests include scientific and medical thought in the Hebrew Bible and post-Biblical authoritative (Rabbinic) Jewish texts.

REV. FRED WOODEN came to Fountain St. Church in March 2005, coming from the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, New York. He served in Texas and Massachusetts before that, and spent college and seminary days in the midwest. In addition work at FSC, he shares the duties of hosting a weekly radio show, "Faith & Reason," writes a blog, and is a part of Urban League and ACLU. Fred is also an occasional contributor to UU World magazine

ASHLEY CARTER YOUNGBLOOD was born and currently resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is a graduate of Hope College and achieved her Bachelor of Arts as a double major in Religion and Philosophy, with a minor in Asian Studies. She is currently working to achieve her Masters in Social Work and has a history of being active in organizations that promote social justice and dialogue between faiths, with the goal that those of different faiths may learn not only to accept one another, but to appreciate and engage with one another to promote greater reflection, understanding and unity.

DANIELLE NEGUS is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in anthropology and a minor in Spanish. She has had an interest in religion for as long as she can remember and is hoping to pursue further study in anthropology with a focus on religious studies at the graduate school level.

KARIN MAUPIN holds a degree in Anthropology. She taught in the suburban Grand Rapids school system for many years and is now retired.

REV. STEVE NAYLOR is a native to West Michigan. His undergrad work was done at Grand Valley State University. He then moved to the West Coast where he completed seminary training at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ denomination.


Interfaith Dialogue Association

234 Baynton

Grand Rapids MI 49503-3749

(616) 454 - 5960