An Open Letter to the Students, Faculty, and Staff of Concordia University Ann Arbor4 min read

Friends in Jesus:

There are many things being said in other quarters about Concordia University Ann Arbor (CUAA). The Michigan District has and will continue to speak into the situation as well. CUAA has been a cherished partner in the Gospel through its ministry these last many years.

Certainly, you have questions, concerns, and hurt about recent developments at CUAA. Ever since February 13, uncertainty has entered your life. Decisions made last week by the CUWAA Board of Regents have only increased such uncertainty. I will say, I have never seen as many lives disrupted in such a short time as I am witnessing from the actions of Concordia University Wisconsin Ann Arbor.

But that is not the point of this letter. It is not to rehearse what you have experienced; it is to bring you a word of encouragement. It comes to you as from a pastor.

There are three things you should know.

First, God has got this. You might be uncertain about what is happening, what you should do, where this is going. Tears. Lost sleep. Anger. Fear. But you need to know your Father is in this. He is not unaware of the chaos others have introduced in your life. He who made the heavens and the earth in six days is at work in your life right now and is able to work all things together for your good. If you are a student, He can open doors. If you are a parent, He loves your child more than you do. If you are faculty or staff, He will bring blessings in unexpected areas.

Second, Jesus has loved you with an everlasting love. Our hope is in Jesus, not in the things or the people or the other stuff of this world. We put no trust in horses, armies, or institutions. I had hoped that the Board of Regents and the administration would stay the course that was introduced in November which would have expanded the existing ministry of CUAA, building on the clear successes of the last 10 years. When that hope was lost in February, I was stunned. Then I had hoped that there would be some path toward autonomy and that CUAA would continue on the same trajectory of mission and ministry that we have been witnessing. Certainly, we demonstrated through financial commitments, development of a plausible roadmap, prayer support, and rallying of supporters that there was a desire and ability for CUAA to achieve autonomy, if that is what CUWAA desired. That hope was lost this last Thursday. But hope itself is not lost, because our hope is in Jesus, not the actions or inactions of His Church. Please, above all else, do not let anything you see in the people of Jesus pull you away from the person of Jesus and His love. To say “fix your eyes on Jesus” is more than a slogan; it is our way of life and our only path through it.

Third, the Holy Spirit of God will grant you wisdom in how to react and what you should or should not do next. The Spirit of God will guide you in whatever is the appropriate calling in your life and will lead you toward it. He may lead you to remain at CUAA this next year and make it the best and most memorable year of your life. He may lead you to attend a different college or seek employment elsewhere. Be assured that in the midst of your hurt or confusion or 101 other emotions about the whole situation, with groanings that are unutterable, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will intercede on your behalf to the Father, making your requests known to Him.

There is a fourth thing for students. Don’t be “that guy.” The statistics are grim about college students whose college closes (or whose programs are eliminated). A very large percentage either never enroll in another school or never finish a degree. Do press on. Press on through the power of God. Whether at whatever CUAA ends up being or at another institution of higher learning, press on and finish your degree. God has given you gifts over which He has made you steward regardless of the decisions others make that intrude in your life. Press on in relationship with Jesus. Your walk with Jesus is the most important, powerful, and positive thing in life. And it will see you through everything you face this year and the next.

I am sad that we are facing what we are all facing. I am sad that you are facing what you are facing. In the midst of that, let me share my favorite Bible passage.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV).

…eyes on Jesus…

Rev. David A. Davis
District President
Michigan District, LCMS

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About the Author

Rev. David A. Davis serves as President of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Joel D. Schepmann - June 14, 2024

Thank you President Davis for your stalwart devotion to our district and school in these turbulent times. You have provided many words of wisdom and have had a clear focus on the mission. We continually pray for you, the faculty of CUAA, and the students (past, present, and future) of Concordia.

Thank you once again.

“That in all things, Christ might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18

Harns Ilona - June 14, 2024

Thank you!! It has been a tumultuous couple of months!

Chris Francik - June 14, 2024

President Davis,
Thank you for being a pastor to so many hurting people. I teared up several times while reading this. I am thankful that you are pointing everyone who reads this back to our Triune God. His love, guide, and direction are sovereign above all else. I needed this reminder during the past several challenging months. Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew ring in my ears. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” God be with you as well as you travel this painful road with us.

Mary - June 14, 2024

What an encouraging pastoral letter. Thank you for writing and sending it. I am neither an educator or current student, but I did graduate in 1973 while it was a Junior college. I have taught in schools that have closed or dwindled until they did close, often through heartbreaking surprises similar to this one. So my heart also breaks for those involved. Thank you for being a pastor to CUAA workers and students.

Mary Ann Woods - June 14, 2024

Thank you for this truth. I don’t even know where to send the money I promised. This is very sad.

Dear Mary Ann: You can find information regarding pledge donations at Thank you!

Linda D Gerke - June 14, 2024

I thank continually when I think of you. You are a blessing to me, our District, CUAA, and our church.

Beth Frederick - June 14, 2024

Tears in my eyes – sadness over the whole CUAA situation and tears for the wise, edifying way the Holy Spirit is using you to minister to all of us! Thank you God and Pastor Davis.

Stephen Illich - June 14, 2024

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am not a Concordia Alumni. In fact, I am not a lifelong LCMS Lutheran. However, one Bible verse comes to mind as I think of the what the future holds for CUAA.

Remember, the stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone. CUAA has the potential to be the cornerstone, the foundation upon which the entire future of the Concordia University System will be built.

Be strong and Coursgeous.

Gina Lanzer - June 14, 2024

Thank you for this heartfelt, honest, and encouraging letter! This is what leadership looks like.

I needed these words more than I would have thought, as they actually apply to so many areas of life- not just the present situation at hand. And that’s true, God-led leadership. It’s a much needed salve for many wounds.

May our Lord continue to bless, protect, and prosper you and the work of the Michigan District!

Betsy Jane Cambridge - June 14, 2024

Thank you, Pastor Davis. I am a current staff member at CUAA and have been since 2016. This whole situation has been absolutely heartbreaking from the beginning. I am sad not only for myself but for our amazing students. This word of encouragement means so much.

Doris Dickhudt - June 14, 2024

God’s in control ! Miracles do happen! This campus is the light on the hill! God willing it will continue! D.D.

Kate List - June 14, 2024

Perfectly stated. Thank you for your guidance and encouragement to all those involved. May God continue to lead you during this season.

John Hohe - June 14, 2024

I am thankful for the positive we can do it leadership that Rev Davis is bringing forth.

Who follows in his train? May they come forth!


Pastor Rob Appold - June 14, 2024

Great promises for us and as you said, “Encouragement.” Thanks for perspective.

Alex Holcomb - June 14, 2024

Thank you, once again, Pastor David, for your honesty and encouragement. It is so easy for us to look at the mess that is the church (that is, the people of God) and be filled with frustration, disappointment, or despair. Thank you for the reminder to put our hope in Jesus, not people. Only when we abide in Christ can we find the grace to love His broken and beautiful bride. Thank you for modeling godly leadership during a time of crisis. May God continue to guide, strengthen, and encourage you as well as all those connected with CUAA. May we, like Habakkuk, praise God no matter what.

Richard Greiner - June 15, 2024

Spot on! President Davis.
May God continue to use your voice in these difficult times!

Carole Schlesselman - June 15, 2024

Thank you, Pastor Davis, for this beautiful message. You are the epitome of what a pastor should be. As an alumnus of CL JC Ann Arbor and having a granddaughter there now I will continue to pray for this beautiful university. Our gracious God can do all things.

Rebecca Meyer Volchko - June 18, 2024

Thank you for your letter about the unfortunate decisions and your positive outlook. God is always in charge even when it’s difficult to see that. We must all continue to pray to our God in these difficult times🙏

Jerry Novak - June 18, 2024

Thank you Pastor, Brother, Friend! God is good… all the time!

Rev. Ronald Roland - June 18, 2024

Thank you President Davis for your encouraging message. Hopefully, CUAA is a message to all of us, that just because we are The Church, we can’t be irresponsible in worldly matters – in fact we are called to, and supported in, an even greater responsibility to Jesus’ mission of spreading His Gospel message throughout the world of forgiveness of sins to everlasting life. Like everyone, I am praying for good management of the secular realignment of our churchly institution.

Katie Contreras - June 18, 2024

I am thankful the Lord put you in your position for this time in this place. The Holy Spirit is still working.

Jon Duff - June 18, 2024

Thank you Pastor Davis: again and again I’m reminded that this message is indeed the one we need to breath in and out everyday of our lives. As we become anxious and start to grab the wheel remember to… “Be Still, and know that I am God”.

Mark S. - June 18, 2024

As a former Concordia alumnus (class 1971) I am saddened by the news. I hope some miracle by God will take place so that this university will continue send out workers into His harvest. Thank-you, President Davis for your encouraging words. God continue to guide you in all that you do.

Todd Frusti - June 18, 2024

Well said. Thank you for your encouragement to all affected in so many different ways by the recent BOR decision.

Ruth Haupt - June 19, 2024

Thank you, Pastor Davis, for your guidance and leadership. May your letter comfort the hurting with the hope of our Lord Jesus. We are thankful for every one who have shared their hope, prayers, resources, and insights for CUAA.

Douglas Krengel - June 19, 2024

Thank you, President Davis for your open letter regarding CUAA. Habakkuk 3:17-19 is such an uplifting text for the church in general and for CUAA in particular.

Bill and Carolyn Burns - June 19, 2024

In our prayers for all involved, let behind , needing new diections for their lives careers and educatiour In our prayers . Trust in the Lord! Bill and Carolyn Burns

Lynn Witt - June 20, 2024

President Davis: Thank You for your letter of encouragement to those so deeply affected by recent decisions. This is the time for people the District to keep it’s eyes focused on HIM. You are helping us do that. God Bless.