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Welcome to Chris Stedman as the Inter-Religious Resource Coordinator

Interfaith at Augsburg is pleased to announce that Chris Stedman ’08 will serve as Inter-Religious Resource Coordinator for the upcoming year. In this position, Chris will help Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Learning and Leadership position itself to enhance interfaith leadership on campus and nationally, a goal identified in the Augsburg 150 strategic plan. His work will include the creation of teaching modules on “interreligious knowledge, skills, and leadership” that can be used in courses such as Augsburg’s professional graduate degree programs. He also will assist in strengthening Augsburg’s Interfaith Ally training. 

Chris is not new to the Augsburg community. In addition to being an alumnus, he has served in a number of capacities since 2016, when he joined Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship as a fellow. Following his time at the Sabo Center, Chris served for two years as an interfaith fellow at Augsburg. Last year, he joined the Department of Religion and Philosophy as an instructor, where he teaches multiple sections of Religion 200.

Outside of his work at Augsburg, Chris is a nationally-recognized writer, speaker, and activist. He is the author of 2020’s IRL (“Essential.” —The AV Club) and 2012’s Faitheist (“Exciting and boundary defying.” —Houston Chronicle). Chris has also written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. Most recently, his narrative podcast Unread (“Best Podcasts of 2021.” —Vulture) was released in June. It quickly found an audience around the world, including in Canada, where it hit number one on Apple Podcasts’s Society & Culture chart just a month after its premiere. Previously the founding director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, Chris also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a trainer and content developer for the Interfaith Youth Core. In recognition of his groundbreaking leadership in interfaith activism and humanist community building, Augsburg selected Chris for their annual First Decade Award in 2018.

Perspectives on the Opioid Crisis in the Somali Community


Thursday, September 30 at 4-5 pm

Webinar format hosted by Augsburg University Events

Event sponsored by Interfaith at Augsburg and Muslim Student Association with thanks to the Batalden Ethics Grant


Please join us for a panel discussion with:

Imam Abdisalam Adam, Assistant Principal of Highland High School in St. Paul, member of the Fridley School Board; former Augsburg Interfaith Fellow

Cadnaan Deeq, former Augsburg student

Farhia Budul, CPRS, CPP, FPRS, Executive Director, Niyyah Recovery Initiative 

Niyyah Recovery Initiative (NRI) is the first Recovery Community Organization in the nation to provide culturally responsive peer recovery support, education, awareness and advocacy in the East African immigrant, refugee, and Muslim population in Minnesota. 


At a time when the local Somali community is facing a crisis of opioid addiction, we will hear the perspectives of a community leader and educator, an expert in culturally responsive peer recovery support, and a student. In addition to learning more about the crisis we will focus on ways religious communities, health care providers and Augsburg are responding and might collaborate in the future. There will be time for questions from participants. 


Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.



Discerning our Moral Commitments Together: A Multifaith Conversation on Racial Justice and Human Dignity

Minnesota Multifaith Network (MnMN) is offering an interfaith convening called, “Discerning our Moral Commitments Together: A Multifaith Conversation on Racial Justice and Human Dignity” on Thursday, June 17, 2021, from 11:00am to 1:00pm CDT. Held online, all faith leaders, interfaith organization leadership and volunteers, people of all faith backgrounds, those of no faith commitments, and everyone committed to the flourishing of all communities in Minnesota are invited to participate in a deep conversation about our shared moral commitments as we grapple with all the ways the pandemic and oppression is causing harm. Speakers and small group circles will help build connections for justice and contribute to deepening a growing multifaith network in Minnesota. Tickets are $10 each with a 50% discount for MnMN members. To become a member, visit MnMN’s website at and click “Membership.” Contact with questions.

The Intersection of Religion and Science: A Conversation with Aisha Mohamed ’16

Date: March 2, 2021

Time: 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Zoom Webinar


You are invited to hear Aisha Mohamed ’16 explore the intersection of of religion and science as she shares her own experience of being a Muslim and a biology major at Augsburg. While at Augsburg she was active in MSA and was an Interfaith Scholar and now is a second year student at University of Minnesota Medical School. Aisha will explore ethical questions raised by the advances in science such as organ donation and stem cell research. Awareness of these ethical questions can create strong leaders in scientific and other fields while holding deep connection to their faith. Following Aisha’s presentation, two Augsburg students will give their responses and there will be time for questions from the audience.

Sponsored by:  Interfaith Institute, MSA, and Stem Peer Mentorship and supported by a Bataldan Ethics Grant.

The recorded Webinar is available on YouTube.

Neighbors Together in a Divided Nation: An Inter-religious Conversation

Date: January 26, 2021

Time: 4:00- 5:00 pm CST

Format: Zoom Webinar

Now available on YouTube.


The Augsburg University Interfaith Institute invites students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU) to join in reflecting upon how various religious and secular traditions call for our engagement in loving and serving the neighbor, working for healing, justice, peace and mercy, and the care of creation in a divided and often distrustful nation and world.


Farhan Latif, President of the El-Hibri Foundation, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Imam Makram El-Amin, Masjid An-Nur in Minneapolis
  • Professor Lori Brandt Hale, chair of Augsburg University’s Department of Religion and Philosophy
  • Rabbi Rabbi Arielle LeKach-Rosenberg, Assistant Rabbi, Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis

Following the presentations we will hear from student respondents, and there will be time for questions and conversation.


The recorded webinar is available on the Campus Ministry YouTube Channel.

About our presenters:

Farhan Latif is a philanthropic leader, social entrepreneur and cross sector mobilizer on minority inclusion.  His work is inspired by democratic values and universal norms shared by faith traditions and his leadership has challenged global extremism and ideologically motivated hate.  He is the President of the El-Hibri Foundation, focused on cross sector approaches to foster inclusion across religious and political divides. His work focuses on investing in Muslim leaders in partnership with allies to build capacity and resilience.

Imam Makram El-Amin has worked for  more than two decades as a religious and community leader, firmly rooted in the principle of our inherent human dignity. In addition to his weekly teaching duties, Imam El-Amin leads Al Maa’uun (Neighborly Needs) Community Outreach Services ( that addresses food insecurity, affordable housing, career services, and mentoring. A student of the late religious leader and scholar Imam W. Deen Mohammed, his thoughtful and moderate approach to Islam has afforded Imam El-Amin opportunities to share the stage with Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. He was a delegate to a historic interfaith event in Rome with Pope John Paul II and member of an interfaith clergy delegation to the Holy Land.

Lori Brandt Hale is Professor and Chair of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg University, where she has taught since 1998. She holds degrees from the University of Iowa, the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the University of Virginia. Brandt Hale has devoted her academic career both to teaching and to studying the life and legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Rabbi Arielle LeKach-Rosenberg serves as Assistant Rabbi, with a focus on music, prayer and activism.  She was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in June 2017.  She spent her final two years of rabbinical school working as a full-time rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in New York City, where she developed innovative initiatives for people of all ages and backgrounds to deepen their relationship with prayer, music and spiritual practice.  


Augsburg University Religious Holiday Policy and Procedure

As an academic community, Augsburg University embraces the Network of ELCA Colleges & Universities’ (NECU) mission to be “rooted” and “open” so that all may flourish. This necessitates that we regularly reassess the familiar and consider new options. A community of caring mentors and colleagues makes possible each student’s intellectual growth, personal maturation, and vocational discernment.  The following policy and procedure for the observance of recognized holy days is consistent with the university’s mission.


In recognition that observance of recognized religious holidays may affect students’ classroom attendance and the submission of graded work in courses, Augsburg University accommodates  religious observances and holidays of diverse religious traditions.  This policy reflects the university’s commitment to being responsive to our students’ diverse religious beliefs and to encourage students’ spiritual development. In accordance with the policy, students who miss class to observe a religious holiday are required to make prior arrangements with individual instructors for how any work missed during an absence will be completed. Absence from class due to observance of a religious holiday is normally excused according to university policy; however, students are expected to make up the work they miss, and the University understands that there may be extenuating circumstances, specific to a particular course, that make it difficult or impossible for a faculty member to grant such a request. 

Faculty are encouraged to consider recognized religious holidays when establishing course deadlines and assigning course work and to support students in their religious practices by observing this policy.  To support faculty in accommodating the religious practices and commitments of our students, Augsburg has established procedures to be followed by students: students are responsible for notifying their instructors of a planned absence due to an observance and/or holiday.  


The religious holiday observance notification procedure is based on the assumption and expectation that students will act in accordance with the Augsburg University Honor Code. The procedure and subsequent guidelines for students missing class to observe religious holidays are as follows:


  • Students are expected to formally notify their instructors at least two weeks in advance that they will miss class in order to observe a religious holiday. Students are to complete the Religious Observance Notification Form.
  • The Religious Observance Notification Form must be submitted online.  It is routed to the faculty member  faculty member and the University Pastors in the Campus Ministry Office.  Should either of these parties raise questions about the request, they will contact the student or the faculty member’s academic dean.
  • This procedure can only be used to notify an instructor of an absence from class necessitated by observance on a religious holiday. 
  • Students are required to make prior arrangements with individual instructors for completion of any work missed during an absence.
  • Students are encouraged to file their Religious Observance Notification Form as early in the semester or term as possible, but must submit it no later than two weeks prior to the religious holiday to ensure that instructors make every effort to accommodate the request.  Instructors have no obligation to honor requests made within two weeks of a planned absence as a result of a religious holiday.  Absences may be considered “unexcused” if the form is not filed in accordance with this provision.
  • If a student has a question regarding the Religious Holiday Observance Policy, they should contact Justin Lind-Ayres, University Pastor, at, Babette Chatman, University Pastor, at  or Mark Hanson, Director of the Augsburg Interfaith Institute, at
  • Students may wish to consult with the Chief Inclusion Officer or the faculty member’s academic dean if an instructor is unable or unwilling to grant their request. 



1) Because students are required to make prior arrangements with individual instructors for completion of any work missed during an absence and instructors may want to use the same exercise that the rest of the class has completed, students are obligated to avoid obtaining any information about that graded exercise that would give an unfair advantage over other students taking the course.

2) In the event that a religious holiday should fall during exam week, students should contact their instructor during the first week of the course to make sure a work around is possible. If one is not possible, or there is a special circumstance like a performance or a concert that cannot be made up, the student may be advised to take that specific course during a different semester.

3) Student Conduct Code  [from the Augsburg Student Handbook]

The University has adopted standards of behavior and policies which require students and their organizations to lead in matters of behavior with ethical and moral integrity. Augsburg strives to provide a community that protects each student’s freedom to learn and that seeks the orderly resolution of human problems while honoring the fundamental rights of all. It is the goal of Augsburg University to create and maintain a respectful environment for members of the University community: students, staff, faculty, administration, and visitors. Such an environment is congruent with the University mission and values and, as such, serves to enhance the teaching- learning process.




What Can We Learn About Being Human From Life Online?

What Can We Learn About Being Human From Life Online?

Chris Stedman

November 10 from 4-5 pm


You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Nov 10, 2020 04:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Topic: Chris Stedman Lecture


The lecture is available online.



For much of history, humans have grappled with questions of meaning and belonging within institutions like churches and civic groups. Today, especially in the time of social distancing and online learning, more and more people are moving their search for connection and significance into digital space. The work of being human — exploring life’s big questions, finding a sense of identity and context, and connecting with others — increasingly happens on the internet. How is this changing our understanding of who we are? Join Augsburg University alum and current adjunct professor in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy Chris Stedman for a conversation about his new book IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (out October 20, 2020), what it means to be “real” in the age of Twitter and TikTok, and what we can learn from the novel ways of being and belonging that are emerging online.



Chris Stedman is a Minneapolis-based writer, speaker, teacher, and community organizer. He is the author of IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (2020) and Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious (2012). Chris has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Pitchfork, VICE, The Rumpus, The LA Review of Books, and The Washington Post.


Previously the founding director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, Chris also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University. He currently teaches in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg and serves as the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities’ 2020-21 visiting lecturer. 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. To learn more, visit or

Meet the 2019-20 Interfaith Scholars

Group photo of 2019-20 Interfaith Scholars with Pastor Sonja and Professor Lori Hale

Learn more about this year’s Interfaith Scholars

Natalya Arevalo ‘20

Hometown: South Minneapolis, MN
Majors: Political Science and Philosophy

At Augsburg I learned how to communicate better. I chose to become an Interfaith because I wanted to learn more about different religions and how to build community among diverse religions.

Rivka Buchbinder ‘21

Hometown: Saint Louis Park, MN
Major: Elementary Education Special Education
Minor: Religion

I have learned that we are all welcome and we all have a story to tell. Augsburg allows us that opportunity to showcase who were are and what makes us us. I am someone who is really passionate about interfaith dialogue and dissuasion. I think it’s important for people to be able to talk about who they are and what they believe. We live our lives in different ways and practice different religions and it’s important to give people an opportunity to express and talk about who they are. I have also always had a passion for learning about different peoples religion, cultures and customs. I love how being in Interfaith Scholars allows me the opportunity to talk with my fellow classmates about who they are and what they believe. I have also loved having our dinner and dialogue where we create a space for students and the community to come and talk about different topics and ideas as they pertain to an interfaith discussion.

Abby Garofalo ‘21

Hometown: Farmington, MN
Major: Biology

Augsburg has helped me learn how to engage with people and communities that differ from my own thoughts and beliefs, and I believe I am ever better for it. I chose to be an Interfaith scholar because I wanted to learn more about how different faiths and non-religious traditions engage with each other in our increasingly diverse world.

Ava Fojtik ‘20

Hometown: Oshkosh, WI
Major: Religion with Concentrations in World Religions and Interfaith Studies
Minors: English with a Concentration in Writing and Theatre

I have learned a ton at Augsburg! As a religion major, I’ve focused a lot on learning about concepts like liberation theology, how Christianity differs around the world, and interfaith work. I’ve also had two incredible internships working with Muslim and Jewish communities, respectively. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar because I think interfaith work is integral to promoting peace and understanding in our diverse world.

Tofunmi Oteju ‘21

Hometown: Lagos,Nigeria
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology

I have learned how to be a better ally to different social groups at Augsburg. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholars because I wanted to be in a space where I could have intentional dialogue about different faith and non-faith traditions but also bring my perspective being an international student to the discussion.

Abdikhaliq Sahal ‘20

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

At Augsburg, I have learned many lessons on inclusion and diversity that have come to better shape my worldview and through support I have been allowed to partake in wonderful study abroad experiences as well as cohorts like the interfaith scholars program. Augsburgs emphasis on it’s students being critical thinkers and thoughtful stewards after their time at Augsburg has greatly prepared me for life after college. I chose to be an interfaith scholar because inclusive work that helps bridge communities together is essential to the future of our nation and too often the world tries to create divides in people but the nature of interfaith work is to aid in doing the opposite. I believe a lack of information is in part why people are so fearful of a religion different from themselves so I also become an interfaith scholar to familiarize with people of different backgrounds and to simultaneously teach/learn in a space that is welcoming.

Javier Sanchez ‘21

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Major: Finance

At Augsburg, I learned to be open minded and have a positive influence on those around you. I chose to be an interfaith scholar because I wanted to experience working with a cohort of different beliefs and see what goals we can accomplish.

Mohamed Sheikhomar ‘21

Hometown: Bloomington, MN
Major: Management Information Systems.

I have learned the value of community at Augsburg. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar to help bridge the gap between all religions.

Isaac Tadé ‘21

Hometown: Windom, MN
Major: Biology
Minor: Religion

I’ve learned to never make assumptions on someone’s beliefs and to be conscientious about where people are coming from in situations. I chose to be an Interfaith Scholar to learn from others in the Augsburg community who come from different cultures and backgrounds.

Sophie Warnberg ‘20

Hometown: Chanhassen, MN
Major: Theology and Public Leadership with a Concentration in Youth Studies
Minor: Theater

At Augsburg, I have learned to put my faith and core beliefs into action. I also have learned to become an ally to people whose voices may not always be heard. I chose to become an Interfaith Scholar because I knew that I would have the opportunity to learn about different faith traditions and practices that are different from mine own, and that I would also have the opportunity to share my faith traditions and practices with others.

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!

Jewish High Holy Day Primer 2019

From: Interfaith@Augsburg and Hillel at Augsburg

Below is a “High Holy Day Primer”-

  1. This is the Jewish High Holy Day season, which runs for the entire lunar month of Tishrei this year from Sunday evening, September 29 -Tuesday, October 30. Though Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are on secular calendars, there is another 9-day holiday called Sukkot, right after Yom Kippur. It is a big harvest celebration.
  2. For college students, being away from home for these holidays can highlight the homesickness and the yearning to be in the nest, and for some, quite the opposite. If you celebrate Christmas, imagine staying on campus while most students return home for the holiday. If you celebrate Ramadan, this season is similar to that month of observance. There is now a Jewish student organization on campus called Hillel and students will try to find places for meals and for services. All synagogues and the University of Minnesota Hillel will welcome students, and we can help connect them.
  3. The second set of holidays, Sukkot, is likely much less observed among our students and faculty, though some students will not go to class on the first and last days of Sukkot. Supplemental reading can be found in Exodus 34:22 and Leviticus 23:42-43 for the biblical source of this holiday).
  4. There is a wide swath of Jewish observance among your Augsburg students, faculty and staff. Some adhere closely to the traditions, so they don’t write or use electricity on these major holidays. Others have very secular experiences, don’t celebrate these at all, or focus mostly on the feasting, not the religious and spiritual aspects of these holidays.
  5. The appropriate greeting for this season is, “Sha-NAH to-VAH”. meaning Happy New Year.
  6. How to be an ally:  All of this is to encourage you to have conversations with your Jewish students and colleagues about their observances. The Jewish students may or may not self-identify, so you may want to invite any Jewish students/faculty to talk with you about what this next month is for them, vis a vis classes. They will likely welcome the questions or the greetings. And you could also move important meetings or events away from Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  The 2019 dates for these holidays are:

Sunday, September 29, Rosh Hashannah begins at sundown.

Monday, September 30 is the first day of Rosh Hashannah.  Some American Jews celebrate for one day, others for two (we can discuss the lunar calendar another time).

Tuesday, October 1 is the second day of Rosh Hashannah for some Jews.

Tuesday, October 8, Yom Kippur begins an hour before sundown. Yom Kippur ends around 7:30pm Wednesday, October 9.

Sukkot begins at sundown on Sunday, October 13, and the first two days are “Holy Days” where some Jews don’t work, use electricity, engage in commerce. We build a sukkah (booth) and eat most of our meals there for 8 days, even if it rains or snows. The first half of Sukkot ends at an hour after sundown Tuesday, October 15.

Sukkot ends at sundown on either on October 18 or October 20, depending on personal observance. Again, a majority of American Jews do not celebrate this holiday or even know what it’s about.