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Ethics and Religion Talk: Final thoughts and reflections

How has being a columnist for Ethics and Religion Talk affected you personally or professionally? Do you have a favorite question or response that you are especially proud of?

What is Ethics and Religion Talk?


For twelve years, “Ethics and Religion Talk” has answered your questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.


The first five years of columns, published in the Grand Rapids Press and MLive, are archived at More recent columns can be found on by searching for the tag “ethics and religion talk.”

For more resources on interfaith dialogue and understanding, see the Kaufman Interfaith Institute page and their weekly Interfaith Insight column at


This week we begin to say goodbye to the Ethics and Religion Talk column as two of our panelists and one former panelist reflect back on their years. 

How has being a columnist for Ethics and Religion Talk affected you personally or professionally? Do you have a favorite question or response that you are especially proud of?

Fred Stella may have been our most prolific contributor, writing 372 responses. In addition, he has submitted countless questions, culled from his contacts within the world of interfaith dialogue in his role as president of the Interfaith Dialogue Association of Grand Rapids. He began back in August 2014, just about two years after Ethics and Religion Talk first appeared in the Grand Rapids Press. Fred is the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple.

He writes:

Being a part of this panel has been an honor. What I appreciate the most about this experience is having the opportunity to dive into so many elements of the Hindu Dharma that I am sure most non-Hindus have never been exposed to.

I can’t think of one particular column that might have been my favorite, but I will say that any piece that I and my colleagues wrote which generated feedback (positive or otherwise) meant a lot. I will also say that I appreciated the compensation I received for my efforts. It was never in the form of American currency, stock options or Bitcoin. But during our tenure with the GR Press, panel members were often treated annually to a Whitecaps game and after that we made it a point to enjoy one another’s company at a summer lunch. I’ve always felt honored to be in the company of these people. 

And I cannot close without a big shout out to the progenitor of this effort, Rabbi David Krishef. His tenacity, patience and discipline kept us running like a well-oiled machine all these years. I’m sure we are all grateful to His Menchness. 

The Reverend Colleen Squires joined the panel in November 2017. She has been a pillar of our contributors, penning 249 responses. Reverend Squires is minister at All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

She writes:

I have been very grateful to have had the opportunity to answer these questions on behalf of my Unitarian Universalist faith and All Souls Community Church, the congregation I serve. I know many people in this area of the world are unfamiliar with UUism, so I do hope I have been able to shed some light on our faith and make it more accessible. I have been glad to add our voice to the discussion particularly around subjects like welcoming LGBTQA+ people fully into our faith community, our strong support of reproductive choice, and supporting patients with their end of life choices. I personally have enjoyed weighing in on medical ethics questions because medicine will always advance quicker than we can humanly fathom. I have least enjoyed the questions that are political in nature. I feel we have lost our way as a society when we argue about treating all people kindly. Finally, I would like to say thank you to both Rabbi David Krishef for shepherding this labor of love over these many years and to our readers for taking the time to read our responses. I do hope we have had a positive impact on your life.

The Reverend Fred Wooden was one of the original panel of clergy. During his five years on the panel, he contributed 163 responses. The Reverend Wooden is a retired Unitarian minister.

He writes:

I was an original contributor, leaving in 2017 to run for electoral office. Most of our work was done virtually, answering questions by email, and we did not know the responses of others until we saw the column. That was important to me because it revealed the real variety of viewpoints, not only between religions but within religious groups.  

Even more, I began to enjoy the distinct voices of those writing as persons, not just viewpoints. Though our responses were of necessity quite short, something of our own convictions shone through and that was great. During our time as part of the newspaper, once a year we had a common meal at their invitation and had great fun connecting faces and voices with words. We felt a common bond across a wide range of beliefs and practices.  

I do not have a favorite question or memory, what always struck me were the simple questions involving daily life. We clergy spend a lot of time on matters cosmic and celestial, but most of the questions brought us back to the earth of living and trying. If I were still serving, I would compose sermons with those questions in mind far more and those dealing with beliefs and doctrines far less.

Next week. Some final thoughts from me, Rabbi David Krishef, creator of Ethics and Religion Talk.

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