Peace in the Middle East: Challenges and Signs of Hope

Join Interfaith at Augsburg for a Brown Bag Lunch discussion with visiting lecturer Munib Younan, retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former president of the Lutheran World Federation.

Bishop Munib Younan
Bishop Munib Younan

Wednesday, October 2
12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.m.

Oren Gateway Center, Room 100

Bishop Younan’s parents were Palestinian refugees. His entire life and leadership have been focused on finding a lasting, just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and building up the civic agency of Palestinian people.

Read Bishop Younan’s full bio online.

Bring your questions, and feel free to bring your own lunch!

2019 Christensen Symposium

Headshot photos of Dr. Hamdy and Bishop Younan next to presentation title "Suffering and Hope in the Midst of Conflict"Thursday, October 3
11 AM – 12 PM
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center

Speakers:

  • Hamdy El-Sawaf, founder and psychotherapist at the Family Counseling Center and imam of Masjid Al-Iman in Minneapolis
  • Munib Younan, retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former president of the Lutheran World Federation

Hamdy El-Sawaf and Munib Younan will share personal experiences and their religious faith perspectives on hope, reconciliation, and resiliency in the midst of suffering and struggles that often are intensified by religious convictions and differences.

About the Christensen Symposium:

Each year, the Christensen Symposium provides the opportunity to explore and apply the lessons rooted in former Augsburg President Bernhard M. Christensen’s legacy:

  • Christian faith liberates minds and lives.
  • Diversity strengthens vital communities.
  • Interfaith friendships enrich learning.
  • The love of Christ draws us to God.
  • We are called to service in the world.

The 2019 Christensen Symposium is co-sponsored by the Christensen Center for Vocation and the newly created Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership.

Note: This session may be audio recorded. If you would like to be alerted as soon as the audio is available, please email ccv@augsburg.edu

For requests related to accommodations at the Symposium, email events@augsburg.edu or call 612-330-1104.

2019-20 Augsburg Interfaith Fellows

We are pleased to announce Augsburg’s Interfaith Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year: Busshō Lahn and Chris Stedman ’08

The Augsburg Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to interreligious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work is coordinated by the newly created Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership and includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus.

Bussho LahnBusshō Lahn is a Senior Priest at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and is on the leadership team of Aslan Institute in Eagan, MN. Busshō came to Zen Buddhism in 1993, was ordained in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. He is a certified spiritual director, connecting with and walking with those who wish to deepen an intentional and contemplative spiritual life. He sees the intimate connection between our deeply held spiritual beliefs and the workings of our day-to-day mind and heart. The connection between spirituality and psychology is the area Bussho loves to explore, as well as encouraging and supporting spiritual lives, regardless of faith tradition.

Bussho is grounded in contemplative spirituality, interfaith experience, addiction recovery, and shadow integration. He is experienced in overseas pilgrimage and retreat facilitation, classroom education, and public speaking on a variety of spiritual subjects. His special interests include Zen ritual and ceremony, poetry, interfaith dialogue, and the works of the great mystics. He lives in Eden Prairie with his wonderful wife Karen.

  • From Bussho –  I wish to keep offering myself as a resource on Zen, Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness to classes & students in whatever capacity I can. I have a relatively flexible schedule, with normal class/working hours being especially available. I’d love to meet more Auggies!

Chris Stedman 2019Chris Stedman is a humanist community organizer, interfaith activist, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, “an intimate and deeply affecting portrait… [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch” (Booklist, Starred Review). Chris is also the founding executive director of the Humanist Center of Minnesota, a project through which he and a group of researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying the beliefs, practices, and community involvement of the religiously unaffiliated. Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, he also worked as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a content developer for the Interfaith Youth Core.

Chris has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Fox News, has spoken at hundreds of conferences and universities, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, VICE, The Los Angeles Review of Books, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, Salon, The Washington Post, and others. Details magazine named him one of “five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion’s status quo” and Mic called him “the millennial who’s busting every stereotype about atheists.” He is currently finishing work on his next book, IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (forthcoming from Fortress Press), which examines what it means to be human in the age of social media, and he also writes THREAD, an occasional newsletter exploring the threads that connect online and offline life. Chris holds a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion from Augsburg (with minors in English and Social Welfare) and an M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. In 2018 Augsburg selected him for their annual First Decade Award, which recognizes alumni “who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community” ten years after graduating. Learn more at chrisstedmanwriter.com.

  • From Chris – “I’m thrilled to start my third year as an interfaith fellow at Augsburg and can’t wait to continue learning from and with this wonderful community. I especially love visiting classes and engaging in conversation with students about humanism, secular worldviews, interfaith work, and my own undergraduate experience at Augsburg. Please reach out if you have any ideas or questions about ways we might work together.”

To invite the fellows to your speak with your class or connect with your group, please contact ccv@augsburg.edu for their contact information.

Leadership for Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership

Rev. Mark S. Hanson headshot

We are pleased to announce Mark Hanson has transitioned from his role as executive director of the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) to help develop Augsburg’s new institute to promote interreligious leadership.

Bio for Mark S. Hanson

Serving as the Founding Director of Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Inter-Religious Leadership, Rev. Mark S. Hanson leads Augsburg University’s commitment to interfaith leadership being a core aspect of Augburg’s academic mission. Interfaith leadership presumes knowledge, skills and sensibilities and is embedded in both curricular and co-curricular dimensions of the Augsburg experience. It involves theological education, spiritual engagement, everyday experiences, global education and social action.

Prior to his current appointment, Hanson served as presiding bishop of the ELCA. He was elected to this position by the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA in August 2001 and was reelected in 2007. In 2003, he was elected to serve, concurrently, as president of the Lutheran World Federation, a position he held until 2010.

Before being elected as ELCA presiding bishop, he served as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod (3H). He had been elected to serve a second term in Saint Paul earlier that same year. Prior to being elected synod bishop, he served as pastor of three Minnesota congregations: Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; Edina (Minnesota) Community Lutheran Church; and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. 

Born in Minneapolis on December 2, 1946, he graduated from Augsburg College with a B.A. in sociology. He was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and received a Master of Divinity degree there in 1972. He also attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School in 1979. 

In his work as president of the Lutheran World Federation and as presiding bishop of the ELCA, Hanson has traveled widely throughout the world, sharing a confident hope in God’s promises and a vision of the joyful freedom in Christian community and mission. 

Hanson is widely known as a leader with an evangelical passion and imagination who embraces the Christian tradition, the Christian community, and the world with both generous goodwill and thoughtful insight. He has been an articulate advocate for the renewal of the church’s preaching and public voice, for the strengthening of ecumenical and inter-religious relationships, and for reconciliation and justice in society, with attention especially to those who live with poverty and discrimination. 

Hanson has received several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humane Letters from Augsburg College, Wittenberg University, and Grand View University, Doctor of Humanities from Capital University, Doctor of Divinity from Lenoir-Rhyne College, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Susquehanna University, Wartburg College, and The Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration.

He is the author of Faithful Yet Changing, the Church in Challenging Times and Faithful and Courageous, Christians in Unsettling Times both from Augsburg Fortress, Publishers. 

Married to Ione (Agrimson), they are the parents of Aaron, Alyssa, Rachel, Ezra, Isaac and Elizabeth, and grandparents to Naomi, Kingston, Sam, Danielle and Sophia. Before moving to Chicago, Ione was the director of social work at Minneapolis and St. Paul Children’s Hospitals.

2018-19 Christensen Interfaith Fellows

We are pleased to announce the Christensen and Batalden Interfaith Fellows for the 2018-19 academic year:

Christensen Interfaith Fellows – Wendy Goldberg, Busshō Lahn and Chris Stedman ’08

Batalden Interfaith Fellow – Ger Vang

The Christensen and Batalden Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to inter-religious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work will be coordinated by the Christensen Center for Vocation and Batalden Professor in Applied Ethics. It includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus.
Continue reading “2018-19 Christensen Interfaith Fellows”

2018 Vocation of a Lutheran College Conference: CIVIL DISCOURSE IN A FRAGMENTED AND MULTI-RELIGIOUS SOCIETY

Vocation of a Lutheran College Conference participants in 2016.

July 16-18, 2018

Augsburg University
Minneapolis, MN

Each year, members of Lutheran colleges gather to explore the distinctive roles we play in higher education.

As the 2018 theme is Civil Discourse in a Fragmented and Multi-Religious Society, the conference will explore:
a) civility in politically fragmented society;
b) case studies on difficult conversations
c) challenges on campus; and
d) civil discourse in multi-religious society.

The conference is open to all from ELCA colleges and universities, but persons should attend who have a particular interest or campus responsibility in the vocation of Lutheran higher education to help students and others speak across difference and address political, cultural and intra- and inter-religious understanding. Each college or university is urged to send a campus delegation, composed of a mix of administrators and faculty.

View the 2018 Conference Agenda Draft

REGISTRATION

The registration deadline has passed.

ELCA colleges and universities have typically been invited to send delegations of up to five persons at a subsidized rate of $150 per person. More information about registration was sent to school representatives through the ELCA. Contact Melinda Valverde at melinda.valverde@elca.org for more information if your college or university has questions.

Questions may be also be directed to 612-330-1403 or voalc@augsburg.edu.

The Vocation of a Lutheran College conference is supported by the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities.

Christensen Interfaith Fellows, 2017-18

The following three individuals have been appointed as Augsburg’s inaugural Christensen Interfaith Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year: Abdisalam Adam, Wendy Goldberg, and Chris Stedman ’08.

The Interfaith Fellows are charged with deepening and extending Augsburg’s calling to inter-religious engagement, preparing students to live and serve in contexts of religious pluralism. Their work will be coordinated by the Christensen Center for Vocation and includes participating in classroom and campus discussions and events; working with students named as Interfaith, Christensen, and Sabo scholars; and engaging with Augsburg’s Interfaith Coordinating Committee and various religious groups on campus. Continue reading “Christensen Interfaith Fellows, 2017-18”

Muslim Identities in Minnesota

PMuslim Voices MNresentations by Cawo Abdi and Nahid Khan (University of Minnesota)

Moderated by Fardosa Hassan (Augsburg College)

Date & Time: Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 7:00 PM

Admission: free and open to the public

Location: Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center, Augsburg College

In the 21st century there is a plethora of clichés, stereotypes, and over-generalizations about Muslims in Minnesota, where there are also a variety of different ways of being Muslim. In this panel, Professor Abdi and Ph.D. candidate Khan will explore the diversity of Muslims in Minnesota today and the many contexts shaping their lives and identities. Professor Abdi will draw on her recently published book on the Somali diaspora, Elusive Jannah, and Khan will present data from her research on the portrayal of Islam and Muslims in Twin Cities media over the last several decades.  This is the second in a series on Muslim Identities co-sponsored with the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas.  The first, “Muslim Identities in North America,” features Professors Meena Sharify-Funk (Wilfred Laurier University) and Nahid Khan, speaking at 7pm, Monday, September 26, in Woulfe Alumni Hall, University of St. Thomas.

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Cawo Abdi

Cawo Abdi is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and a Research Associate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Professor Abdi’s research areas are migration, family and gender relations, development, Africa and the Middle East. She has published on these topics in various journals and is the author of a book, “Elusive Jannah: The Somali Diaspora and a Borderless Muslim Identity,” University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

nahid
Nahid Khan

Nahid Khan is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a religious studies graduate minor at the University of Minnesota. Khan also serves as special consultant to the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas. Active in community interfaith dialogue since the 1980s, with a particular focus on Muslim-Jewish dialogue, she was a Muslim delegate at the North American Interfaith Colloquium held at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in 1999 and 2000 and she served for eight years on the board of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, an interfaith advocacy group addressing social justice issues in Minnesota.  She is also a trained guide for the Collection in Focus program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and a board member of Mizna, an Arab-American cultural and arts organization based in the Twin Cities.

Sponsored by the Bernhard Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg College in collaboration with the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas, as well as the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of St. Thomas.

 

Advance Screening – Morgan Freeman’s Story of God

Please join us Wednesday, March 30 from 7pm-8:30pm.

In addition to viewing one episode of the upcoming National Geographic series, there will be a panel discussion featuring Augsburg leaders of different faith traditions: Dr. Phil Quanbeck II, Dr. Maheen Zaman, and Julian Kritz (Interfaith Scholar). The panel will be moderated by Rev. Mark Hanson, the new executive director of the Christensen Center for Vocation.

Event Schedule:
6:30 P.M. Doors Open
7:00 P.M. Screening Starts
8:00 P.M. Interfaith Panel Discussion with Dr. Phil Quanbeck II, Dr. Maheen Zaman, and Julian Kritz
8:30 P.M. Event Concludes with Light Refreshments in the Foss Atrium

The event is free and open to the public. As space is limited, please register online ahead of time to ensure a spot. Seating is first come, first-served.

Continue reading “Advance Screening – Morgan Freeman’s Story of God”

Interfaith Student Reflection by Joseph Kempf

Joseph Kempf, Class of 2016

joe-kempf

“(And Jesus Said) You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

You are…a people of faith. You are…a city on a hill. You are…the Salt of the Earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his followers salt, of all things! Don’t get me wrong, salt is delicious and needed. But we could be something great! We could be legends, we could be a mountain, instead Jesus charges us with salt. While there are numerous interpretations of what exactly is meant by being the Salt of the Earth, I personally hold this verse in the Gospel of Matthew to indicate how followers of Jesus should engage in the world. I am going to do this with a little bit of Chemistry.

I wanted to be scholarly and a little rebellious so I researched what Salt of the Earth even means. According to the Wikipedia page devoted to Matthew 5:13, it reads “Salt itself, Sodium Chloride, is extremely stable and cannot lose its flavor…(then some author notes) Jesus is ‘not giving a chemistry lesson’” I’m almost a little offended. Who are they to decide when chemistry stops. If there is one thing I learned at Augsburg…chemistry never stops. Since Jesus clearly was not teaching chemistry, I think I will step up to the plate so to speak.

I’m sure all of you are familiar enough with cooking. You know with all of your might that oil and water will never mix, no matter how much you stir. Oil is simply too big for water to take on. Long chains of carbons and hydrogens are not attractive to water’s oxygen and hydrogen combo. Maybe for too long, Christians have become oily in practice and deed. We have become too engrossed with our beliefs, what road to heaven or what does this passage actually mean. If water represents the world, sometimes we just sit on top, looking at the world below us but never submerges ourselves. We see our neighbors of various religions, but we may seldom act. What we need is a radical shift in ideas and our approach to other religions. But Jesus doesn’t call us the ‘oil of the earth’ we are the ‘salt of the earth’! You know perfectly well what salt does in water- it breaks apart and fully involves itself in waters affairs. An important thing to note is that the salt is never destroyed in this transaction. Often what holds us back from working or engaging in interfaith dialogue and service is the simple fact that we are afraid of losing our faith. Of changing for the worse or even where to begin. But of course these actions can be learned. WE are called to engage the world and serve our neighbor. How much longer are we going to separate ourselves from this sacred service?

Continue reading “Interfaith Student Reflection by Joseph Kempf”