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Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices

The Riverside Innovation Hub at Augsburg University is just one of 115 organizations who received a grant through the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Iniativitive in 2019 and 2020. The aim of the initiative is to help congregations strengthen their ministries and thrive so they can better help people deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world. 

People sitting around a tableOne such organization is Augsburg’s neighbor – the Minneapolis Area Synod! While our efforts are distinct, both initiatives seek to create learning communities of congregations exploring their call to be neighbor, rooted in the particularities of their faith traditions. These tandem projects also allow additional opportunities to learn from each other about this work. 

Please enjoy this contribution from our partners at the Minneapolis Area Synod – Nick Tangen and Maya Bryant – who are leading the synod’s Thriving Congregations work called, “Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices.” 

Update from Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices

“The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer –  Life Together 

Our Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices learning community launched in September 2021 with a retreat at the Graduate Minneapolis. Since then, our three regional cohorts have been meeting monthly to share a meal, and explore and experiment with the practices that sustain our relationship with God and with our neighbor. 

We’ve explored spiritual practices like praying the Psalms, lectio divina, and group spiritual direction. And we’ve experimented with one-to-ones, stakeholder mapping, intercultural development, and storytelling. Now, as we approach the summer, each of our congregations is preparing for a neighborhood listening campaign where we’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with our neighbors and hear the stories of the folks who share community with us. 

Head shot of Maya BryantHeadshot of Nick TangenThis summer of listening will help frame our conversations and learning in the fall as we seek to respond to the stories we hear and the relationships we build. What does it mean to be neighbors in the place where God has placed us? How can we reject patterns of toxic charity and white saviorism? What does it look like for us to become communities of practice, rather than networks of programming? These are just a few of the questions we will be exploring over the next six months. 

We are excited to see what emerges from the one-to-ones, house meetings, and other gatherings that happen in and around the communities we are at work in. We continue to hold the Riverside Innovation Hub team and participants in our prayers, and hope that you do the same. It is a blessing to be in this work with y’all. 


The Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices Team
Nicholas Tangen
Maya Bryant

The Thriving Congregations Initiative

If you’d like to read more about other efforts by faith-based organizations around the country who are involved in this initiative, please visit the Thriving Congregations Initiative website at