Concordia College welcomes Dr. Michael Chan as the executive director for Faith and Learning. In his new position, Chan will direct the Lorentzsen and Dovre centers, guide Concordia’s interfaith relationships, and oversee the work of Campus Ministry. He will also serve as a member of the president’s cabinet.
“When members of the Concordia community first approached me about this position, I was genuinely intrigued,” Chan said. “That intrigue turned into enthusiasm when I realized that I would be inheriting projects and initiatives with exceptionally strong foundations. This results from the fact that my predecessors tended to their work not only with skill but also with love — for Concordia and its students.”
Chan is a scholar and faith leader of exceptional breadth and accomplishment. He was formerly associate professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. He has authored numerous books and articles on the Old Testament and works with the ELCA to promote interfaith dialogue and mutual learning between Lutherans and their Jewish neighbors. Chan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University (B.A.), Luther Seminary (M.A.), and Emory University (Ph.D.).
Widely known as an adult educator and facilitator, Chan also hosts a podcast, Gospel Beautiful, that engages a diverse range of scholars, artists, and activists. In addition to his teaching and research, Chan was deeply involved in a variety of innovation initiatives at Luther Seminary.
Chan looks forward to the new academic year at Concordia and the many exciting things happening under the banner of Faith and Learning. The Lorentzsen Center’s 2022-23 program will focus on answering the question: "How do we build a more trustworthy world?" by hosting conversations on a range of democratic institutions and practices that are particularly challenged in these precarious times — churches and faith communities, journalism, education, and healthcare to name just a few. Each month will have a new theme that will be engaged and featured in keynote addresses, podcasts, and a hybrid book club.
Additionally, Chan has been partnering with Dr. Anne Mocko, associate professor of religion, and Dr. Elna Solvang, chair and professor of religion, to design and initiate a visioning process that will help imagine the next chapter of the interfaith student experience at Concordia.
“Because my role operates in various pockets of the Concordia ecosystem, I am able to grasp more holistically how my work as the executive director for Faith and Learning can contribute to the well-being of the entire community,” Chan said. “Though teaching is not a formal part of my responsibilities, supporting the incredible work of faculty and students is at the heart of what I do, and that is tremendously fulfilling.”
In his announcement of Chan’s hiring, President William Craft expressed his gratitude to those who led Concordia’s faith and learning endeavors during the past decade: Dr. Faith Ngunjiri, inaugural director of the Lorentzsen Center; Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, who led interfaith initiatives as the director of the Forum on Faith and Life; the recently retired Dr. Larry Papenfuss, former director of the Dovre Center; Dr. Per Anderson for his interim leadership of the Lorentzsen Center; and Dr. Mocko’s interim leadership of interfaith work.
Chan and his family have settled in Moorhead.
“I come from a mid-sized, railroad town in northern Arizona with a population of roughly 40,000,” Chan said. “Fargo-Moorhead has a very similar feel and pace. It’s our Goldilocks zone.”
Chan’s podcast has been on pause during the transition, but he plans to continue with a narrower focus on the spiritual and religious lives of young people. The first episode in the new season will drop later this summer.