Thanksgiving event celebrates community, interfaith diversity

Nov 26, 2015

Credit coexistcampaign.com

For the past 14 years, west Michiganders from several faith traditions have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Earlier this week, Trinity United Methodist Church hosted more than 450 guests - one of the largest groups the event has ever gathered.

"It’s been hosted at Jewish temples (and) churches - the planning committee consists of representatives from all of the religious traditions in Grand Rapids." 

That’s Katie Gordon from the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.

"So there’s the Hindu community, Buddhist community, Muslim, secular community, Christian community and more."

Katie Gordon, program manager at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.
Credit Mariano Avila

Gordon credits the turnout to the climate the world is in today, and says people need a sign that we can come together across differences.

So, with discourse being what it is, I asked Gordon what exactly she thought such a diverse group might be thankful for.

"A real sense of gratitude for the refugee community that we have in Grand Rapids."

"One of our presenters pointed out that while Grand Rapids is the 139th largest city in population in the U.S. it is the sixth-largest city that settles refugees."

"And so a sign of that, I think is really powerful that we continue to be welcoming in the city, continue to welcome refugees." 

"Because the interfaith community and the community overall in Grand Rapids is really shaped by the immigrants and refugees we have welcomed in."

Those in attendance sang, ate, and prayed - but they also donated a tub of school supplies, 14 bags of winter clothes, and raised about $2,000 to be split between Congress Elementary, the East Paris Community Food Pantry, and Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

Thanks, and giving: maybe something to agree on, regardless of one’s spirituality.