We will miss Dr. Wen Chao Chen
Aug. 14, 2012
Yesterday he Michigan Festival of Sacred Music lost a great friend and supporter: Dr. Wen Chao Chen, co-founder of the festival.
The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music was the brain-child of the community leader and member of First Baptist Church. He recognized the power of sacred music to gather and bless people. He also realized the need within the community to find ways of bringing people together. He wondered if it were possible to bring these two ideas together — sacred music and community building. He gathered a group of religious and community leaders to explore the idea of a festival. The inter-faith group planned and prepared for the first festival in 2001.
“We owe the existence of the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music in a large part to the vision of Dr. Wen Chao Chen,” says Michigan Festival of Sacred Music Executive Director Elizabeth Start. “It is a great example of the sort of connections Chen made in the community: He saw the need for and value of such an organization and helped bring it to life.
“To paraphrase what another MFSM co-founder, Pieter Kiwiet, said to me today: Though the first Festival occurred soon after Sept. 11, 2001 and was seen as a needed opportunity to come together as a community for understanding and dialogue, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music was already in place well before 2001: We knew before 2000 that this was an important opportunity to provide in our community and the world.
“The Festival is a result of the vision Chen and other community leaders had,” Start says. “His ability to bring such leaders together to found the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music has made it possible for us to continue to gather together to celebrate our rich music, culture, and common bonds, and continue the dialogue. We will miss his quiet support and counsel.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, Lilia, his wife, and sons Michael and Philip.
Our 2013 Festival will be dedicated to his memory.