My name is Ha Dong, but you can call me Cassie. I was born and raised in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. My childhood was imbued with memories of me playing in the rain forest and on the high mountains. My mother used to own a small hotel in Sapa, a town located in the far north of Vietnam. Spending my summers in this beautiful little town gave me opportunities to meet with many people from different ethnic backgrounds in Sapa as well as tourists from all around the world. My early engagement with people from different cultures, faiths, and backgrounds later became foundational to my spiritual journey and my vocation.
On Monday August 6, 2018, we began training our eight Innovation Coaches who will spend the next ten months coaching sixteen local faith communities into a method of discerning and generating innovative ministry with young adults (List of Partner Faith Communities). Our coaches are young adults between the ages of 22 – 30 years old. They come to us from lives lived around the globe — the Twin Cities, Iowa, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Argentina, South Dakota, California, Texas, Europe, Philippines, China, Missouri, and Montana. Read about Our Innovation Coaches!
This training included three intense weeks (August 6 – August 24, 2018). Here were some of the components of that training:
- Morning and Evening Prayer each day
- A day in Voyageur canoes on the Mississippi River as we explore our theme text, Ezekiel 47:1-12
- Time with Augsburg University president Paul Pribbenow exploring the University’s call to be an institution for the sake of the neighbor
- Learning about Martin Luther’s theology of vocation from Dr. Mark Tranvik
- Learning to practice one-on-ones with Harry Boyte from Augsburg University’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship
- Finding our type in the Enneagram with Tyler Sit from New City Church
- A Salon Dinner and day-long training on creativity, change, and welcoming resistance with Rev. Marlon Hall — pastor, filmmaker, storyteller, and anthropologist
- Intercultural competency assessment and training
- Immersion into the Public Church Framework
The goal of this training was to equip our coaches to be able to walk into two faith communities and help them engage young adults in their contexts in new ways, creating opportunities for the faith communities to listen and learn. We understand innovation to be that thing that happens when we are responsive to both the movement of the Holy Spirit and the demands being placed upon us by our neighbor in a particular place at a particular time. Our coaches learned to help faith communities locate themselves in these places and respond with hope.
Our work with these faith communities launched on September 18, 2018.
FOLLOW OUR JOURNEY
We were blessed to be invited into the lives of 12 local faith communities currently doing exceptional ministry with young adults. This post summarizes our that research and the themes which are currently emerging at this point in our analysis. The analysis is not complete and will, therefore, reveal more as the research team continues to work through it. However, we have already identified many important themes. This project takes an assets-based approach, looking to learn from what faith communities are already doing well rather than focusing on critique. Our findings, and this summary, reflect that asset-based spirit.
These twelve local faith communities were nominated by their peers as communities currently doing effective work with young adults. They vary in denomination, size, context, staff structure, and in how they engage with young adults. No two faith communities are the same. They include:
- Bethlehem Lutheran — Minneapolis
- Church of All Nations — Columbia Heights
- Good Samaritan Lutheran (no official website) — Saint Paul
- Grace University Lutheran — Minneapolis
- Hope Community — Minneapolis
- Humble Walk — Saint Paul
- Intertwine Northeast — Minneapolis
- New City Church — Minneapolis
- Our Saviour’s Lutheran — Minneapolis
- Redeemer Lutheran — Minneapolis
- Sanctuary Covenant — Minneapolis
- Solomon’s Porch — Minneapolis
The Riverside Innovation Hub’s research team consists of eight faculty members from across various disciplines including Religion, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Social Work, Education, Communication, and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies. Our researchers visited the above faith communities in groups of three to conduct site visits, focus groups, and interviews with senior pastors and young adult leaders. These focus groups and interviews were recorded and then transcribed. The Riverside Innovation Hub staff identified key themes emerging from these site visits, focus groups, and interviews. The research team then coded these transcriptions using key themes (listed below).
Characteristics and Values
We discovered some fascinating and helpful characteristics which we are excited to share. The following nineteen values were present in our study congregations in various levels, amounts, and combinations. We have organized them into four characteristics to help us imagine how these values shape the character of a faith community. If the local faith community’s call is to proclaim good news into people’s lives to displace their bad news, then what we see below are the various ways in which these faith communities are doing just that. They do it through unique and context-specific practices, but these context-specific practices share the following characteristics.
CHARACTERISTIC #1 — PLACESHARERS
These faith communities have found ways to effectively enter relationships with young adults by engaging in the real joys and struggles of people’s lives. They are not afraid of tough conversations or hard questions. They allow people to bring their real selves to the table.
- Authenticity — There is no need to hide or fake who you really are. Individuals are able to be authentic because the leaders and the community are both authentic.
- Vulnerability — Participants are welcome to share their deepest longings and their shortcomings because the leaders and the organization both model this vulnerability.
- Complexity — There is eagerness to engage difficult issues and difficult conversations. Faith is both taught and practiced in complex ways.
- Energy — There is a noticeable quality of connection. It might not always only be lively, it could also be reflective. It matches the place where the young adults find themselves.
CHARACTERISTIC #2 — ROOTED IN THEOLOGY
These faith communities are clear about their beliefs and practices. Their theological convictions shape their lives together. Their sense of mission is clear and compelling and is reflected in what they do.
- Explicit — Faith community is explicit about its values, mission, and story. They know what they stand for and they are explicit about making it known.
- Value Alignment — The faith community’s mission, leadership, and ministries align with the young adults’ values.
- Wisdom — Participants are engaged in the integration of theology and real life. They value thinking theologically about the world and thinking worldly about their theology.
- Sacred Objects & Rituals — Important symbols of relationships and transitions are present in important artifacts and actions. These help participants make meaning and help give shape and identity to the community by creating collective awareness, experience, emotion, & energy.
- Good News/ Bad News — The articulation of how young adults are experiencing suffering or bondage in their lives (bad news) is present as well as ways the faith community is working to accompany them and/ or provide relief and freedom.
CHARACTERISTIC #3 — COMMUNITY
Faith communities are intentional about building community and bringing young adults into that community. There is a palpable sense of family and support and young adults are instrumental leaders.
- Social Networks — Young adults find their way into these faith communities through their social networks.
- Participatory — Young adults are resources, active in the life and leadership of the faith community. There is noticeable representation of young adults within the faith community.
- Relationships — Meaningful relationships with peers, mentors, across generations, and across other differences are valued and nurtured with intentionality.
- Leadership — These communities value their leaders for their vulnerability, accessibility, and relationality. They are seen as strong preachers, teachers, and caregivers.
- Belonging — There is a sense of solidarity and “we-ness”.
CHARACTERISTIC #4 — PUBLIC
These faith communities empower their people, including young adults, to actively live out their faith in their public lives in a variety of ways. There is a high value placed upon the community gathered for worship, but always with an eye and ear towards those beyond their faith community.
- Vocation — Tangible action for the good of the neighbor is valued and expected, but as an expression of freedom in Christ rather than legalistic acts to appease God.
- Inward/ Outward — The needs of the individual and the gathered faith community are met while simultaneously being open to and engaged with those beyond the faith community.
- Context — The location of the faith community is an important factor in the faith community’s identity and the young adults’ experience with the faith community.
- Social Justice — The faith community and/ or the young adult lift up social justice as an important component of the life of faith.
There was no special program or approach that made these congregations successful. We believe their success with young adults is related to their clarity of conviction and intentionality about engaging their young adults in leadership roles so that they might lead the faith community into living public lives of faith that matter.
We have brought together eight dymanic and dedicated leaders for the role of Innovation Coach. The Twin Cities, Iowa, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Argentina, South Dakota, California, Texas, Europe, Philippines, China, Missouri, Montana, Norway, Germany – these are just some of the places our coaches have lived and learned and led. We are thrilled to bring them all and their collection of experiences across the globe together at Augsburg this August. We are prayerfully holding them up and the new places they will be called to lead and serve this coming year as coaches.
We are thrilled to let our team introduce themselves!
Meet Lindsay Boehmer…
My name is Lindsay Boehmer and I am from Sioux Falls South Dakota. I grew up in Sioux Falls and attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls where I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. The past couple years I have spent very little time in Sioux Falls, but my favorite thing about going back is visiting my home church. I was very active in my church from the time I was young all the way through college and I love to go and catch up with the staff and kids. They always welcome me with open and loving arms and that place continues to feel like home. Since graduation I have spent most of my time learning and discerning about the world, my faith and what my role is here. I spent a year in Cambodia with the Young Adults in Global Mission program and this past year I served as an intern at a Christian camp near Kansas City. Both of these experiences have shaped the person I am today and challenged me in exciting ways. I am thrilled for this new position with the Riverside Innovation Hub and the opportunity to work with others who are passionate about the church. I am eager to learn more about and be in discussion with others about what Christian community looks like today and how we foster authentic and welcoming environments for that community. One superpower I am bringing to this position is a harkened heart. By this I mean I love to listen to people and to hear what sits on other people’s hearts. I am excited for all the people I will get to meet and work with and hear through this position!
Meet Michelé Crowder…
I am a singer, actor, worship leader and educator with ultra healing hugs and soothing voice super powers! I was born in Germany and raised around Fort Hood, Texas. I attended Texas Lutheran University for Music as well as Social Entrepreneurship before volunteering a year to Urban Servant Corps in Denver, Colorado. Beginning in 2014, I have worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a musician-educator in the Glocal organization, the collective of musician-educators embodying “accompaniment” as formed by the ELCA Global Mission Unit. Since coming back to Texas, I have spent time acting on various stages and teaching in Creative Action’s after-school programming. Creative Action is a nonprofit, arts-based, youth development organization located in Austin, TX. The best thing about Austin is it’s diverse cuisine offered at various price points. This lover of the color green is exited to learn what is most valued in the hearts of Minnesotans as well as how to grow that love in my own heart. I am truly excited to walk beside each congregation and experience the joy of the Lord with them.
Meet Emily Kindelspire…
I grew up in New Hope, Minnesota, one of the first suburbs outside of Minneapolis. I lived down the street from my grade school, which meant rain or snow, I walked- or sprinted, as junior high me slept until the last possible minute- to school. I’m still running today, having completed my second marathon this summer. The best thing about where I grew up were my neighbors, Mark and Beth, and their two sons Mark and Tom. I spent most of my childhood hopping the fence into their yard, as I was their honorary daughter. They invited me for dinner, brought me to their family gatherings and on vacations and made me feel seen. My desire to be the house on the block where kids know they can come and be cherished is derived from my experience as a part of Mark and Beth’s family. With a background in Justice and Peace Studies and Family Studies, I am able to critically examine the ways that power and privilege show up in relationships. After spending the better part of 16 years caring for children of all ages, I move through the world with gentleness and empathy. These parts of me combine to produce a dynamic superpower, one that allows me to say “I see you” and “let’s figure this out together”. I am excited to embark on this journey of community engagement and building! In the next 10 months, I hope to learn how to assist others in telling their stories in captivating, change producing ways. I am eager to l live in community with strangers, learn the rhythm of life in Cedar-Riverside, and build and sustain deep relationships.
Meet Baird Linke…
I was born and raised in beautiful Montana near the Great Divide where I learned to love being outside and exploring. I ran cross country and studied Biology and Spanish at Carroll College in Helena, MT. During the summers, I worked at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, south of Glacier National Park, and I’ve spent the last year living in Buenos Aires, Argentina through the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. I’m excited to bring my curiosity and creativity to this new role as an Innovation Coach in the Twin Cities this year to learn about and join in the work being done there!
Meet Asefa Melka Wakjira…
My name is Asefa Melka Wakjira. I was born and raised in rural Ethiopia. My father finished grade four. He is retired Lutheran Church evangelist. My mother is strong and wise but she has never been to school. I have 10 siblings and I’m the 9th. I like to say I’m a child of a farmer from rural Africa who got opportunity to be educated because of committed missionaries from Norway, Sweden, Germany and other countries. I finished college in Ethiopia and got my bachelor in Sociology. Besides that, I led campus ministry. After working as a graduate assistant for two years, I got scholarship to study Sociology of Children in Norway for two years. Living in Norway opened my eyes to new culture. During my study in Norway, I got clear vision that I will serve in congregations. Then I prayed and God opened opportunity to study here in the USA. I finished my Masters of Divinity last May from San Francisco Theological Seminary in California. I hope to bring diverse educational backgrounds like sociology of children and theology. In addition to that, I will bring new culture of food, worship and ministry from Ethiopia. I also like to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. But it was not easy for me to be outgoing person before I went to Norway. I remember the difficulty I faced to adjust to new food and weather in Norway. It was very confusing to see sun at 10PM for me and I could not sleep on time for the first two weeks. I also could not try new food for almost a month except the Ethiopian food that I brought with me from home. I believe, adjusting to new environments takes time. I like to continue to learn new culture and listen to stories of people. That is one of the important lessons I look forward to learning more during the next 10 months of ministry.
Meet Mason Mennenga…
I am Mason Mennenga (do not feel ashamed for not being able to pronounce my last name on the first attempt. Baby steps, friends). On top of being an Innovation Coach, I work with the wonderful youth at Solomon’s Porch, a holistic missional Christian community in Minneapolis. I also podcast, write, snob about music, and scroll through Twitter. As an Enneagram 4 I think less about my superpowers and more about my superweaknesses; however, many who know me well would perhaps suggest I have the superpower of creating. I derive much of my energy in my creativity. As of recent, I have been constructing what a church may best look like in our day– a church that values art, is self-subversive, equitable, and kenotic. Therefore, my gift of creativity I bring as an Innovation Coach will hopefully be generative in creating compelling practices and systems that fully engage with the values and longings of young adults. I grew up in the expansive farmlands of South Dakota, so my most cherished memories involved my best friend and I driving around the country roads talking about faith, music, and politics. Little did I know at the time those conversations would later became foundational to the spiritual journey on which I have found myself. I hope I learn, over the course of the 10 months as an Innovation Coach, ways in which our abstract theological commitments concerning young adults’ engagement with the church can be concretized in practice. One of my passions is colliding the theoretical with the practical and this opportunity provides a space for me to creatively explore that.
Meet Tim Thao…
My name is Tim and I grew up right here in the beautiful Twin Cities of Minnesota. I am a graduate of the University of Northwestern (previously known as Northwestern College) in St. Paul and I am currently attending seminary at Bethel Seminary in pursuit of a Masters in Ministry. I have been happily married to my gorgeous wife Anna for about 9 months. We live just north of Minneapolis in the city of Brooklyn Park. Our home church is a multi-generational Hmong church in Coon Rapids. We both previously served in the youth ministry for almost a decade. Currently, I serve as the Worship Director for our church. We enjoy being active and playing music together. Our current hobbies include volleyball, playing our guitars, and do-it-yourself, home-improvement projects. Compassion is my big thing. I believe that every single one of us has a beautiful story to tell and we all deserve to be heard. It hurts to see that, even in our society today, people are stripped of their own voice and are told that their experiences, their opinions, and their perspectives are not valued. The Church ought to be a place where individuals find value in themselves in the context of community. Christ loves the lowly and the meek and I believe that we ought to as well. In these next 10 months, I am incredibly excited to see the work that God has begun in the churches of the Twin Cities. I believe that God is moving here in our city and I think that we are all blessed to be able to be a part of God’s kingdom-building work. Apart from my home church, I have not had the privilege to work with other congregations. I am eager to see churches seeking to honor and glorify Christ in their unique context.
Meet Amanda Vetsch…
Hi! My name is Amanda and I come from the great state of Minnesota, born and raised in Minneapolis. I have recently returned from a year of service in Rwanda through the Young Adult Global Missions (YAGM) program. While there, my work was a mashup of sports coach, youth group leader, and educational support staff. Before that I got a degree in Biology from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. One of my everyday superpowers is the ability to regularly spill or drop things. One might not think that is a superpower, but I like to think that it translates into the ability to accept being bad at things and resiliency. I’m proud of my Minnesota heritage, there are many great things about this state, but especially the accesibility to nature as well as all of the amazing food at the MN state fair. In these next 10 months, I’m eager to develop my abilities to work with adults. The majority of my work experience is with children and youth so I’m trepidatiously excited to work with full sized humans.
Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub is reaching out to faith communities in and near the Twin Cities to create learning partnerships around ministry with young adults. This is a collaborative effort sponsored by Augsburg University’s Christensen Center for Vocation and supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc.
The first round of applications closed in the Spring of 2018 and all funded partnerships have been selected for Track 1. However, our Track 3 option will remain open throughout the remainder of the project – Dec. 2021. Track 3 faith communities commit to be learning partners with the Riverside Innovation Hub and with the other Track 1 and Track 3 faith community partners at the table. This includes a commitment to:
- Complete and submit the application.
- Recruit a team of people from your faith community to steward the learning with RIH, determining ways it can inform the work and ministry in your own faith community and context.
- Participate with your team in 3-4 learning events each year hosted by the Riverside Innovation Hub.
- Participate in other collaborative learning opportunities with Track 3 faith communities with support from Riverside Innovation Hub staff.
Applications will be received on a rolling basis and reviewed monthly.
Any questions can be directed to Program Manager, Kristina Fruge at email@example.com.
Spring at the Riverside Innovation Hub has included the completion of two significant milestones adding coaches and faith communities to our team of partners!
YOUNG ADULT INNOVATION COACHES
We have brought together eight dymanic and dedicated leaders for the role of Innovation Coach. The Twin Cities, Iowa, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Argentina, South Dakota, California, Texas, Europe, Philippines, China, Missouri, Germany, Norway, Montana – these are just some of the places our coaches have lived and learned and led. We are thrilled to bring them all and their collection of experiences across the globe together at Augsburg this August. We are prayerfully holding them up and the new places they will be called to lead and serve this coming year as coaches.
FAITH COMMUNITIES FOR TRACK 1 AND TRACK 3 PARTNERSHIPS
As we complete site visits with Track 1 leaders, we are encouarged by the curiosity and hopefulness present in each place. Track 1 faith communities are eager to begin a four-year partnership of accompanying, interpreting and discerning towards contextual life-giving proclamations of the gospel in relationship with young adults. Track 3 faith communities will be meeting together in July as they prepare to engage as learning partners with Riverside Innovation Hub and our cohort of faith community leaders during the life of the project.
The faith communities selected – while all local to the Twin Cities – include a dymanic mix of contexts. The place and neighborhood for each faith community presents a diverse landscape to experiment with and learn about ministry with young adults. Learning more deeply the stories of the neighborhood and discerning what a faithful response with the gospel looks, sounds and feels like in these places, will take shape in unique ways among each faith community. Large suburbs with professional networks, multi-cultural faith communities in urban and first ring suburban contexts, neighborhoods of diverse faith tradtions, contexts filled with thousands of young adult students at local universities and colleges, neighborhoods where young adults transition in and out frequently, contexts that span the economic spectrum and congregrations that do as well.
The blend of faith communities stepping on board as partners creates a promising cohort of faithful leaders and learners. In addition to their unique contexts and stories, our faith communties all share a hopeful curiosity for what the Spirit is up to in the lives of young adults and a humble honesty about the challenges present in our communities. We look forward to learning together about they ways our faith communties are called to shape life-giving ministry and relationships in response to the neighborhood.
TRACK 1 PARTNERS
TRACK 3 PARTNERS
Our Riverside Innovation Hub staff has been blessed to work with Rev. Margaret Kelly this past year as our Hub Coordinator. We celebrated her last day this week with Riverside Innovation Hub. She has been instrumental in supporting the research phase of the project, application process with congregations and hiring of our Innovation Coaches. As a team member, she has brought a deep passion for the church, a commitment to the work of Riverside Innovation Hub and a welcomed witty humor to our first year. We value her partnership and friendship and wish her all the best as she moves into full-time social work with chidren’s mental health.
Mararet has written some final thoughts to share as she moves on from Augsburg…
It is both with sadness and excitement that I have resigned my position with the Riverside Innovation Hub. The work the Hub is doing is incredibly important. It has been my great pleasure to play a support role to Dr. Jeremy Myers and Kristina Fruge. The theological thoughtfulness that they approach the work of innovation in ministry is without compare. Our church is in good hands when I see this project taking shape under their leadership. It is hard work and it is good work. Thanks be to God for courageous leaders who risk trusting the Holy Spirit.
I am leaving to pursue full time work as a clinical social worker. I am returning to mental health case management, but this time with children who have a diagnosed mental illness and need extra support to stay in the community. I will be working in Ramsey County and look forward to utilizing this part of my training. My passion is the intersection of faith, addiction, and mental illness. This is one of the ways I pursue that passion.
I look forward to hearing the stories of the congregations who have been emboldened by the Riverside Innovation Hub.
Rev. Margaret Kelly
In our learning with faith communities and young adults, the word “authenticity” found its way into many conversations and interviews. There are big important words that sometimes can risk losing their impact as they become more commonplace in our vocabulary. Authenticity is one of these words and it is worth pausing and digging deeper into how this word lands and shapes Christian faith and community.
A big thank you to Rev. Mark S. Hanson, with Augsburg’s Christensen Center for Vocation and former bishop of the ELCA, for putting thought to paper and sharing his reflections on the notion of “authenticity” with our learning community.
Reflections on Authenticity
by Rev. Mark S. Hanson
What words would you use to describe your congregation? When I ask that question I hear a variety of responses but rarely the word “authentic”. Yet when I listen to young adults describe the communities they value, authentic is the word I often hear.
It is more than a choice of words. I hear in the longing for authentic community a criticism of churches that seem more preoccupied with institutional survival, denominational identities, theological categories and structures of authority than with being communities of faith in which one can be vulnerable in one’s humanity and transparent about one’s identity without fear of judgment or exclusion.
It is understandable that a generation that has grown up with intense debates and divisions over who is fully welcome to participate in and lead Christian communities would long for communities that begin not with establishing criteria for acceptance but with a commitment to a radical hospitality that welcomes all.
Furthermore, I hear in the calling for authenticity a rejection of the pervasiveness of a culture of self-deception and manipulation. A culture that is often labelled “post-truth” is rejected as being antithetical to authentic community in which “my truth” and “your truth” are heard and respected. The violation of trust through sexual misconduct by those in positions of authority contributes to this distrust and disconnect from the church.
What might the longing for authenticity mean for a congregation? I believe it calls for a clear commitment that our first priority is to attentive listening rather than “we need more young people in order to help our church survive.” The yearning for authenticity begins with empathy for the challenging circumstances of another person’s life. It calls for appreciative curiosity and compassion rather than judgment. For many, authentic community will occur only after trust is established, expectations are named and wounds from painful relationships begin to heal.
Is there validity in the perception that in worship our words of confession and absolution, our pleas for Christ’s mercy and our prayers of intercession can be heard as more formulaic than heartfelt, more prescribed than authentic? The desire for authentic worship calls for more conversation than simply offering the option of contemporary or traditional worship.
I do not find it helpful to label people “Nones”. Think about what we are doing. We are describing a person as “no-one” in relationship to how we define ourselves as people of faith, religious, church members etc. An authentic community begins by letting others describe themselves in terms of their own convictions and self-understanding.
In the longing for authentic community, I hear a rejection of a culture that ascribes power and privilege on the basis of economic prosperity, gender and racial identity, sexual orientation and citizenship. I think Millennials are seeking communities –Christian and others- that are fully human which is to say communities growing more and more into the image of God whose vulnerability led God to experience the fullness of our humanity in Jesus. It is understandable why many young adults seem far more interested in Jesus than in the church. For Jesus embodies authenticity. In Jesus birth, in his tensions with family, followers and those in authority, in his weeping and pleading for mercy and in his death we see our own humanity. Jesus faithfully, graciously and tenaciously extended the embrace of God’s reign of forgiveness, love and reconciliation to those deemed unworthy, unacceptable and unlovable. It is Jesus who calls us and the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be the Beloved Community for which so many yearn.
As I listen and learn from those calling for greater authenticity I want to explore questions such as these:
- When authenticity becomes the highest ideal for which one strives and the basis upon which others are judged, what becomes of a sense of wonder, mystery and humility in response to humanity’s complexity and capacity for both good and evil?
- How do we create safe space for people to speak the truth of their lives without making authenticity, vulnerability and transparency rather than the grace of God freely given on account of Christ the basis for our being community?
- How is social media serving the longing for authentic community and changing faith communities?
- Is it possible that a priority given to striving for authenticity can lead to a life more turned in on myself than turned outward to my neighbor and God’s creation? How can the focus on authenticity keep us connected to those for whom daily bread, the cessation of violence and the search for a safe haven is their daily task?
- How do we explore the tension created by a culture described as “post-truth”, a generation yearning for authentic community calling us to respect “my truth” and “your truth” and the gospel proclamation that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?
- How does baptism, the sacrament of beginning and belonging, shape the yearning for authenticity in personal lives and community?
I am grateful that the Riverside Innovation Hub provides a marvellous context for continued conversation on how a longing for greater authenticity might transform lives of faith, communities and ministries.
Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Christensen Center for Vocation
In addition to hosting the Riverside Innovation Hub, Augsburg’s Christensen Center for Vocation hosts several other exciting opportunities for congregations and leaders. Learn more about the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) happening July 8-13, 2018 and share the invitation below from an ATYI staff with a high schooler you know!
“The Augsburg Youth Theology Institute is an opportunity for high school aged youth to come to Augsburg University for one week in the summer and engage in deep, meaningful, theological learning. Students stay on campus and pray, play, and learn together in community. This year we will focus on empowering students to challenge and lead their congregations into their neighborhoods for the common good through becoming skilled peer ministers, cross-cultural advocates, and community organizers. We will wrestle together with the theory and theology of local missions as accompaniment in Jesus’ name. Students will spend time in the classroom and out in the community exploring these themes in the world. Each day starts and ends with prayer and worship, and we have a lot of fun along the way, all while exploring our calls and vocations in the world today. For more information, to nominate a youth, or to apply, please visit our website.”
We have an exciting theological education opportunity to now offer those hired on as Innovation Coaches with Augsburg’s Riverside Innovation Hub. Luther Seminary is partnering with us to make a seminary education available to interested Innovation Coaches at no cost to the student.
This would mean once the Innovation Coach positions have been filled in mid-April, those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity would apply to Luther Seminary to begin classes in the fall of 2018. Innovation Coaches would take a part-time class load during their 10-months of employment with Augsburg’s Riverside Innovation Hub, with their coaching work also counting towards class credit. They would complete their degree in the year/s following, depending on the chosen program.
Additionally, Luther would award a $5,000 stipend to those students who have completed a year of service.
Find more information about applying to be an Innovation Coach here. For more specific questions about this educational opportunity, please contact Luther Seminary.
Elizabeth Schoenknecht, Director of Enrollment Services
Application information: Luthersem.edu
Outline for Theological Education Component
Admitted and enrolled participants earn a Master of Arts degree while on staff with the Riverside Innovation Hub. Those interested in obtaining a Master of Divinity are encourage to contact Luther Seminary Office of Admissions to learn about further requirements for the degree.
Master of Arts concentrations offered: Ministry in Innovation and Leadership; Children, Youth, and Family; or Christian Ministries
Fall Semester – 1.5 classes (.5 is Christian Public Leader – credit for being in context)
J-term – 1 week long intensive class
Spring Semester – 1.5 classes (.5 is Christian Public Leader – credit for being in context)
Summer – 1 week long intensive class
Full time course work to complete Master of Arts program
(those interested in the Master of Divinity would have 2 additional years including internship)
Fully funded; participants who have completed a year of service receive additional $5,000 stipend.