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Launching a New Riverside Innovation Hub Learning Community!

Event Recap

On Friday, July 30th and Saturday, July 31st, the Riverside Innovation Hub gathered online with 75 participants from 12 local congregations to mark the launch of new learning community. We spent our time together learning more about who is in the learning community, how our learning will take shape, and what’s next.
Enjoy a few highlights from our event.

Introductions to Congregationsmap of Minneapolis with pins of congregations

One person from each congregation was invited to introduce their congregation and why they’re participating now. Some shared that they hope this learning community can provide  guidance as they reimagine what church might look like after the pandemic has disrupted the ways in which the church had often remained inside the four walls of a building, or for others in time of deep transition. Some congregations hope that this learning community helps hold them accountable to the neighbor-oriented work they have wanted to do, but have not always been able to make a priority. Others hope for a process to learn how to be good neighbors in their neighborhoods. See this blog post for a list of partner congregations.

Introductions to RIH Staff

We kicked off the event with an introductory video with tips for Zoom events and fun facts and photos of the staff.

The six RIH Staff also each got an opportunity to introduce themselves.

  • Jeremy Myers, he/him, Executive Director of Christensen Center for Vocation and Religion Professor at Augsburg
  • Kristina Frugé, she/her, Managing Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation
  • Jennifer Starr Dodd, she/her, Congregational Facilitator
  • Amanda Vetsch, she/her, Congregational Facilitator and Coordinator
  • Geoffrey Gill, he/him, Congregational Facilitator
  • Lara Moll, she/her, Communications Coordinator

The three congregational facilitators, Jennifer, Amanda, and Geoffrey, shared a little bit about their “why,” or why they feel called to do this work, in this place, at this time. To read more about the congregational facilitators, check out their introductory blog post.

Introductions to Mentor Congregations

screenshot of slide with three photos containing snapshots of congregationsParticipants from 3 mentor congregations also attended the virtual event. The role of the mentor congregation is to accompany four new congregations along their two year learning journey with the Riverside Innovation Hub. This includes being a trustworthy conversation partner, a participant in a learning cohort led by RIH staff, and a curious contributor to the ongoing mutual learning of all of us swept up in God’s call to be neighbor, in our beautiful and broken world.

The three congregations that will be participating in this role are Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Mac-Grove neighborhood of St. Paul, Trinity Congregation in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, and Saints Luke and James Episcopal in the East Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis. 

Public Church Framework

Jeremy Myers shared about the framework that shapes this learning community, the Public Church Framework. It is made up of four artforms. To learn more about the Public Church Framework and a few examples from previous learning partners, check out this blog, “Stories of Public Church Framework.

diagram depicting the four artforms of the public church framwork


names of congregational facilitators across the top with names of congregations listed blow corresponding facilitatorRIH learning cohortsMuch of Saturday’s time was spent in breakout groups of the learning cohorts. Everyone got to introduce themselves, and the facilitators took time to share about their hopes and expectations for their learning cohorts over the next two years.

The learning community is split into smaller cohorts because we believe that cohorts will support the learning experience over the next two years through a variety of ways. Sound relationships support learning. Those who study “how we learn” advocate for the importance of sound relationships among learners and the value of teamwork among small groups in the learning process. Our experiences with the first Riverside Innovation Hub learning community back that up. The trajectory of this work is unscripted and emergent. It is exploratory. At times it will feel unclear and uncomfortable. And slow. A learning cohort affirms the challenges in this work, while encouraging us to stick with it.  As a cohort, we gather around shared cares & commitments. We offer support for challenges unique to our particular neighborhoods and congregations. And we show up to these learning cohorts with stories to share and questions that others can help us wrestle with.

Next Steps

diagram of learning rhythmsThe rhythm of the learning community alternates from large group learning events, like this Launch event, to cohort meetings, with congregational team work and meetings in between.

Each congregation will do a neighborhood prayer walk between now and the next large group learning event. They will also do some reflection work around intercultural competency. The cohorts will gather to reflect on the work thus far and everyone’s “whys.” We’ll gather again for a large group learning event in October, where we’ll learn more about accompaniment. And so on and so forth for the next two years!

We are thrilled to launch this learning community. It is a joy to begin to build the relationships that will guide us into this work as we continue to pay attention to what God is up to in our neighborhoods and discern what we are called to do, and how we are called to be.