Called to Scholarship with Joan Kunz

On October 19, join the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) for a time of reflection and recognition of professor Joan Kunz‘s call to scholarship.

The Seasons of a Scholar’s Calling: Reflections at Mid-Career

Monday, October 19
3:45 to 5pm
Marshall Room

Refreshments will be served.

Interfaith Student Reflection by Joseph Kempf

Joseph Kempf, Class of 2016


“(And Jesus Said) You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Matthew 5:13

You are…a people of faith. You are…a city on a hill. You are…the Salt of the Earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his followers salt, of all things! Don’t get me wrong, salt is delicious and needed. But we could be something great! We could be legends, we could be a mountain, instead Jesus charges us with salt. While there are numerous interpretations of what exactly is meant by being the Salt of the Earth, I personally hold this verse in the Gospel of Matthew to indicate how followers of Jesus should engage in the world. I am going to do this with a little bit of Chemistry.

I wanted to be scholarly and a little rebellious so I researched what Salt of the Earth even means. According to the Wikipedia page devoted to Matthew 5:13, it reads “Salt itself, Sodium Chloride, is extremely stable and cannot lose its flavor…(then some author notes) Jesus is ‘not giving a chemistry lesson’” I’m almost a little offended. Who are they to decide when chemistry stops. If there is one thing I learned at Augsburg…chemistry never stops. Since Jesus clearly was not teaching chemistry, I think I will step up to the plate so to speak.

I’m sure all of you are familiar enough with cooking. You know with all of your might that oil and water will never mix, no matter how much you stir. Oil is simply too big for water to take on. Long chains of carbons and hydrogens are not attractive to water’s oxygen and hydrogen combo. Maybe for too long, Christians have become oily in practice and deed. We have become too engrossed with our beliefs, what road to heaven or what does this passage actually mean. If water represents the world, sometimes we just sit on top, looking at the world below us but never submerges ourselves. We see our neighbors of various religions, but we may seldom act. What we need is a radical shift in ideas and our approach to other religions. But Jesus doesn’t call us the ‘oil of the earth’ we are the ‘salt of the earth’! You know perfectly well what salt does in water- it breaks apart and fully involves itself in waters affairs. An important thing to note is that the salt is never destroyed in this transaction. Often what holds us back from working or engaging in interfaith dialogue and service is the simple fact that we are afraid of losing our faith. Of changing for the worse or even where to begin. But of course these actions can be learned. WE are called to engage the world and serve our neighbor. How much longer are we going to separate ourselves from this sacred service?

Interfaith service and dialogue is important and needed work. Important because we are called to live in this world, not as only Christians or only Muslims, but as humankind. To serve rather than to be served. To engage instead of fall asleep to the cries of the world.

I have come to the opinion that the Gospels don’t need much prodding in order to reveal to Christians that interfaith service is a necessary project. Many people continue to approach interfaith service and dialogue like a nice option; a creative and unique box to explore for its own sake. While interfaith work is altogether important and requires a well of creativity, the Gospels call…no wail out to us to serve and engage our neighbor. We must wander the world around us, desperately and endlessly listening to the calls of the poor and oppressed; not regardless of their religion, but because of their religion. There is no doubt that rich and powerful work can be done when we grasp the hands of our friends and neighbors and use faith or beliefs as a starting point and cornerstone to our work. I engage in interfaith service because the Scriptures I see in my tradition call me to be first in service and generosity, and truly take on the title of Salt of the Earth.

*This message on the importance of interfaith engagement was one of two student presentations at the 2015 Augsburg Corporation Luncheon.

Interfaith Student Reflection by Jasmine Eltawely

Jasmine Eltawely ’16jasmin-etlawely

Growing up as a Muslim in the US has never been an easy thing for me. I have constantly had to deal with people forming misconceptions about me due to what they’ve heard about Muslims, before they have even gotten the chance to get to know one. This led me to always feel a bit ashamed of my religious identity and I would constantly feel the need to hide it from people. Though I have always been devoted to my faith, I just felt it would be easier for people to not know I was Muslim, due to fear that I would be deemed an outcast. This caused me to never discuss religion with anyone outside of my family, and to not wear the hijab or pray in public places, up until I started attending Anoka Ramsey Community College.

There, I became involved in student organizations that dealt with interfaith engagement and dialogue. Through my experiences I was able to find that it was okay for me to be who I am and not feel like I would be judged or mistreated due to my identity as a Muslim. I was able to interact with people that didn’t have the same beliefs as me, but I could talk with them about religion in welcoming conversations to explore our ideologies. It was an amazing experience that I hoped to continue, and I was able to do just that when I transferred to Augsburg College. I was able to continue to be involved in such organizations on campus, and continue to reach out to the Muslim community and work to bridge the gaps of misunderstanding that currently exist.

Islam has always been such a key part of my life, and much of who I am is shaped by it, but it has taken me a long time to be comfortable enough to say that to others. Through interfaith engagement I have been given the opportunity to truly find who I am and not be ashamed of it. Working with students on campus to create an inclusive environment for people of all faiths has been an amazing service that I have been blessed to be a part of. Not only have I been able to give back to my community, but I was also able to learn about myself through the process. Not only is interfaith engagement very important to me, it has become a big part of my life and who I am.

I believe that God has blessed us all with many great things, things that we should never take for granted. And if we are fortunate enough to be given an opportunity that others don’t have access to, then it is our responsibility to reach out. I feel that through Interfaith engagement, I am able to do just that. I’m able to be involved in creating community amongst people in a time where conflict seems to always block understanding and hate is so easily spread. My faith has inspired me that one of the beauties of life is the diversity that we are surrounded with, and it is important that we embrace these differences rather than shame and criticize. There is an ayah in the Quran in which Allah tells the people of the Earth that He created us different so that we would get to know one another. And I feel that only with interfaith engagement can we truly strive for this universal understanding.

Though I have faced many difficult experiences along the way, I think ultimately every moment that I have spent involved in interfaith engagement has been worth it knowing that the work that I am involved in could possibly be making a difference. So that others don’t have to experience being mistreated due to their religious identity and having to answer to misconceptions, that they had no part in influencing. The biggest message that I hope to give through my interfaith work is that there is so much more to Islam than the media and many people in the world make it out to be, and the same is the case for many other ridiculed religions. Based on my experiences as a Muslim in America, I feel that there is a lot of work to be done in order to create a society in which religious minorities are honestly accepted for who they are. Muslims are being attributed with a narrative that is no way representative of the faith they follow and through active interfaith engagement and service is how we can change that.

*This message on the importance of interfaith engagement was one of two student presentations at the 2015 Augsburg Corporation Luncheon.

Fall Book Group – Darling

CCV Fall Book Group – Darling

Update – as of 9/1/2015, the spots for the book group are full.

In connection to the September 30 Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium/Humanities and Fine Arts Convocation, faculty and staff are invited to participate in a book group discussion of Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography by Richard Rodriguez. The group will be led by Martha E. Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation.

The Book Group will meet for brown bag lunch discussion from 11:30am-12:30pm on the following Wednesdays:

Sept. 9
Sept. 16

To sign up, please email

Once registered, a free copy of the book is available for pick up in Oren Gateway 106.

Highlights from 2015 Vocation of a Lutheran College Conference

On July 20-22, Augsburg hosted faculty and staff from 20 ELCA Colleges and Universities for the 21st annual Vocation of a Lutheran College Conference. The conference focused on examining the role of Lutheran higher education in supporting the common good.

Autumm Caines, Associate Director of Academic Technology at Capital University, created a Storify with highlights from day #2 of the conference.


Highlight Video from 2015 Urban VBS

This June, forty middle school and high school youth spent time at Augsburg for the third annual Collaborative Urban Vacation Bible School. They explored faith, community, and vocation while learning more about college. Ian McConnell (Augsburg alum, current Luther seminary student, and youth ministry intern at Redeemer Lutheran Church in N Mpls.) created a video to share about the experience. Enjoy!

2015 Urban VBS

On June 9-10, over 40 middle school and high school youth from Lutheran congregations in Minneapolis will be at Augsburg to explore faith, community, and vocation. This Collaborative Urban Vacation Bible School also provides meaningful college exposure to the diverse group of students, and utilizes a leadership track for high school students.


The theme for the 2015 Collaborative Urban VBS is “Walk the Neighborhood.” Drawing from both John 1 and Colossians 1 (texts below), we understand that God took on human form in Jesus and walked the neighborhood. As disciples of God, and out of abundant gratitude for God’s gifts of love, grace, and forgiveness, we also walk our neighborhoods. During this year’s VBS at Augsburg College, young people will walk the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, work to identify their roles as being the visible image of an invisible God, and have fun participating in interactive workshops, games, and worship experiences!

Two specific Bible passages will help guide the “Walk the Neighborhood” theme. The bolded passages are added for extra emphasis. Both passages are taken from “The Message” translation of the bible.

John 1: 1-2, 14

“The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own yes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

Colossians 1: 15-21

“We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes tot he church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and— leading the resurrection parade— he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe— people and things, animals and atoms— get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured from the cross. You yourselves are a case study of what he does.”

2015 Vocation of a Lutheran College Pre-Conference

Women’s Way of Leading: Exploring the Call to Lead

Monday, July 20, 12pm – 5pm at Augsburg College

Led by Kathi Tunheim (Gustavus Adophus College) and Susan Hasseler (Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD)

As we look forward to significant turnover in executive leadership in higher education in the next few years, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen gender diversity in leadership in Lutheran colleges and universities. Considering the ways in which we can support women’s success in higher education leadership at all levels, from department and division heads to the presidency, is one of our essential tasks as we explore the vocation of a Lutheran college.

The objective of this VOALC 2015 pre-conference session is to promote women’s leadership development at ELCA colleges and universities.  In this session the participants will:

  •     Explore state-of-the-art leadership development strategies for women in higher education.
  •     Engage with current ELCA women in leadership, including a president, vice-president, and a division leader, in an interactive panel discussion.
  •     Create an individual development plan for your own career.

12:00-1:30pm  Lunch Introductions.  (Table Conversations)
1:30-2:15 pm   Recent Research on Women in Leadership in higher education (Short presentation)
2:15-2:30 p.m.  Break
2:30-3:30 p.m.  ELCA Women Leader Panel including question and answer session
3:30-4:15 p.m.   Professional Development plan writing time for the participants; discuss in small groups
4:30 p.m.          Closing and adjourn
4:30-5:00pm      Break

Pre-conference registration for Augsburg faculty and staff

Registration for ELCA faculty and staff for the VOALC Pre-Conference is handled by the ELCA Churchwide Office. Questions about registration may be directed to Vivian Chen, 612-330-1334 or

Upcoming and Current Interfaith Scholars

Interfaith Scholar Group PhotoOn April 23, several of the upcoming (2015-2016) Interfaith Scholars met with the current (2014-2015) Scholars. The current scholars shared highlights and advice for next year’s cohort. The Interfaith Scholars Program is co-led by Professor Matt Maruggi and Pastor Sonja Hagander.

All are welcome for the final project of this year’s scholars:

Interfaith Community Sending for Graduates.
Thursday, April 30
6:30pm, Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center

Graduating students of all religious and non-religious identities are invited to an interfaith service celebrating your educational journey. This 45-minute service will be a special time of reflection and blessing.

CCV Advisory Book and Movie Recommendations

Movie and Book Recommendations from the CCV Advisory Board

At our recent winter meeting we solicited names of movies and books that come highly recommended by the members of the Board.  Here is the list:

Melissa Pohlman:
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

John Snider:
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr

Mark Hanson:
Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism  by Jerusha Tanner-Lamptey
A Strange Glory: The Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

Marty Stortz:
David Foster Wallace’s commencement address (2005) at Kenyon College
Christoph Schwoebel’s article “Talking Over the Fence.  From Toleration to Dialogue” (for John Clayton on his 60th Birthday), in: NZSTh 45 (2003), 115-130.

Sonja Hagander:
The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Diane Jacobson:
The film “Sweet Land”— suggested given disagreements about immigration.

Jack Fortin:
Christianity for the Rest of Us by Diana Butler Bass