Our Middle Name: University Chair in Lutheran Studies

In 2010, a generous donor made possible the establishment of a professorship in Lutheran Studies located within the Department of Religion. In 2011, the Board of Regents confirmed President Loren Anderson’s nomination of Dr. Samuel Torvend as the first University Professor in Lutheran Studies. In that same year, an additional gift allowed the University Regents to change the professorship to an Endowed Chair in Lutheran Studies. Dr. Torvend ’73 is Professor of Religion (History of Christianity) and has been teaching at PLU since 1998. His publications, teaching, and public lectures focus on the Lutheran reinvention of social welfare in the 16th century; the origins, core convictions, and contemporary significance of Lutheran higher education; the symbiosis of Lutheran sacramental and ethical theologies; and contemporary Lutheran responses to local and global hunger.

He serves as the Director of Vocational Reflection at PLU’s Center for Vocation and the Director of the PLU Center for Religion and Culture in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his university responsibilities, Dr. Torvend has served as theological consultant for the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the ELCA Renewing Worship Project, and the ELCA Office of World Hunger. He has been the keynote speaker at numerous ELCA, ELCIC, LC-MS and Lutheran World Federation study convocations throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. He is now participating in an international consortium of scholars working on Luther’s economic writings in preparation for the five hundredth anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017.

He is the author of Flowing Water, Uncommon Birth: Christian Baptism in a Post-Christian Culture (Augsburg Fortress, 2011), Luther and the Hungry Poor (Fortress Press, 2008 – now included in its core library of Luther texts), and Daily Bread, Holy Meal: Opening the Gifts of Holy Communion (Augsburg Fortress in 2004). His articles on Lutheran higher education, social welfare reform, and Lutheran art and music have appeared in The Cresset, Cross Accent, Intersections: Journal of Lutheran Higher Education,  Lutheran Forum, Occasional Papers of the Valparaiso Institute of Liturgical Studies, Reformed Theology, and Seattle Theology Review. Book chapters have been published in Political Economy: Radicalizing Reformation, Social Ministry in the Lutheran Tradition, Open Questions in Worship, and Ordo: Bath, Word, Prayer, Table.

He received the Master of Divinity from Wartburg Seminary (1978), the Master of Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology (1980), and the Doctor of Philosophy (Historical Theology) from Saint Louis University (1990). He was ordained in 1986.

Dr. Torvend is the son of the Rev. E. Silas ’47 (+2015) and Alice Kjesbu Torvend ’47.