Our Programs Include:
- Dialogue Groups
- Common Threads Radio
- Annual Conferences
- Speakers Bureau
- Interfaith Services
- Dr. Phillip Sigal Memorial Lecture
For the past dozen years IDA has taken great pride in its ability to provide the most expert and intelligent practitioners of the various world traditions represented in West Michigan, who are happy to share their knowledge and experience of their religions to various groups. We in IDA know that for the values and beliefs of a faith to be transmitted correctly, it is imperative for people to not only hear about the various creeds and Scriptures, but to have the opportunity to meet personally with those who ascribe to these religions. For instance, it might be valuable to learn from an academic source that Muslims pray 5 times a day, or that Christians might fast during Lent. But it adds a whole new dimension when one hears from a Muslim, " I pray 5 times a day," or from a Christian, "I fast during Lent."
Since its inception the IDA Speakers Bureau has supplied lecturers to a variety of colleges, including GVSU, Aquinas, Calvin, Cornerstone, Kuyper, and WMU; and over a dozen local high schools.
Almost 3 dozen local churches have been beneficiaries of our services as well.
We are happy to make available speakers from the following faiths: Christianity (various denominations), Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Native Indian Spirituality, Wicca, Sikhism, and Baha'i.
Often congregations organize a series, where over the course of 4 or 5 weeks a group will hear from several speakers.
For our efforts in organizing a series we ask that the hosting church or organization donate to IDA $25. This is per series, not per speaker. The speakers themselves do not charge for their time, but we certainly encourage generosity in the form of honorariums. If a speaker is asked to travel outside the immediate Grand Rapids area we will ask that the speakers be compensated.
If you would like more information on the IDA Speakers Bureau please call Fred Stella at 616- 454-5960.
One of the great pioneers of the interfaith movement in West Michigan was Rabbi Dr. Phillip J. Sigal. Aside from his duties at Ahavas Israel Synagogue, Dr. Sigal was instrumental in opening up the lines of communication among several religions in the area. After his untimely death in 1985, a group of local academics and interfaith enthusiasts established a memorial lecture fund in Rabbi Sigal's honor. From that time forward, IDA has brought to churches, schools and other lecture halls some of the most important voices in religion and social movements of the day. Currently we host this event biannually. It is important to note that Phillip Sigal's work was carried on in part by his widow, Dr. Lillian Sigal, who led IDA as president for several years. She currently resides near Philadelphia where she continues to be active in interfaith relations.
Over the years IDA has sponsored a number of conferences that featured themes of interest that found resonance among a variety of religious communities. The following is a partial list of events and keynote speakers that we've offered to the community:
“Exploring A Global Ethic,” Partnering with The Lakeshore Interfaith Institute
we investigated the various mores that encourage right behavior
among the various world religions.
“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” Dr. Deana
Weibel led the day in exploring Sacred Movement and
how it is incorporated in ways of worship.
“Forgiveness & Transformation,” Laura
Blumenfeld spoke about her book, Revenge: A
Story Of Hope.
“Religion & Ecology,” John
Grim spoke to the responsibility of stewardship
To our earth, as urged by all great traditions.
"Sacred Sounds": Music, singing,
chants and other sounds are sources of
spiritual inspiration within all religious
traditions. Russell Paul, Sound Mystic.
"Sacred Narratives: A Celebration of
Stories from the World's Faith Traditions,"
John Shea, Storyteller
"Science and Religion," Dr. Wayne
Teasdale, Author and Professor
"Branching Out Beyond Interfaith
Dialogue," Rev. Marchiene Rienstra,
Minister and Author
"Teaching about Religions in Public
Schools," Dr. Charles Haynes, First
"Religious Pluralism in North
America," Elizabeth Espersen, Chair,
North American Interfaith Network
"Individual and Group
Responsibilities in the Community of
Religions," Dr.Huston Smith, Author and
Professor of Religion and Father Luis
"Diversity and Unity: The Goals,
Contents and Methods of Interreligious
Dialogue," Dr. David Ramage, Council for
A Parliament of the World's Religions
"The Changing Role of Women in
World Religions: The Tension Between the
Ideal and the Rea!," Dr. Riffat Hassan,
Muslim Feminist Scholar
"The Shrinking and l1urting World-Envisioning
Religion in Post-Modem
Society," Dr. Huston Smith, Author and
Professor of Religion
"The Role of World Religions in the
Search for Global Unity," Dr. Leonard
Swidler, Global Dialogue Institute
“Sacred Art,” allowed participants to explore
the wonderful art heritage of the great world traditions.
R. Suzanne Eberle from Kendall College presented.