Recently, my friend Sheila and I had an exhilarating experience at Buckhill, a skiing resort where our friend Kaylie works. Kaylie invited us to join her for a day on the slopes and even got us free passes! Despite having never gone downhill skiing before, I decided to give it a try.
I have to admit, I was very nervous as I strapped on my skis and looked down the hill. But Kaylie was there to give us some tips and encouragement. And before I knew it, she pushed us down the hill. Sheila and I fell a few times, but Kaylie was always there to pick us back up. It was a great experience of trust, friendship, and fun.
But more than that, it was an opportunity to lean into the discomfort of trying something new. As Sheila put it, “I feel like a child!” And in that moment, I realized that’s exactly why it’s so important to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Because that’s where our inner child is waiting for us, eager to show us the beauty and joy of being alive.
It’s easy to get stuck in our routines and comfort zones, but when we take a chance and try something new, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow and experience life in new and exciting ways. So next time you’re feeling nervous about trying something new, remember that your inner child is waiting for you on the other side of that discomfort. Embrace the unknown, and you just might be surprised at what you find.
You are invited to Groundswell: A learning summit exploring the call to be neighbor
Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 9:00pm – 3:00pm at Augsburg University
Co-hosted by Riverside Innovation Hub and MAS Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices
Over the past two years Minneapolis Area Synod’s Faith Practices & Neighboring Practicesand Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub have shared a commitment to accompanying congregations as they discern their call to BE neighbor, rooted in their faith and open to the neighborhood. As the first learning cycle comes to an end and a new one begins, we are coming together to celebrate and learn from this groundswell of people engaged in what it means to be neighbor in the world. We’ll be joined by both congregations and individuals who are doing the work in neighborhoods all over Minnesota.
On June 3rd, we will gather for a day to hear stories from near and far in a variety of mediums, participate in skill-centered interactive workshops for all types of leaders, and practice deep community building. We will be gathering folks that have a growing heart for their neighbor, are curious about who God is and what God is doing in the world and find themselves around people who are shedding some of their fears about taking risks and not afraid to fail.
We invite you to join us as we continue to support and learn from each other on how we are called to be the public church in our neighborhoods!
Registration will open on March 24th and will close on May 5th.
Childcare and Interpretation will be available upon request if indicated on registration form.
A few years ago we were gathered with a handful of local pastors at a coffee shop discussing this idea of being a public church. My co-worker Amanda and I were describing the posture of this work as one that shifts our attention from an internal one out towards the neighborhood, the larger context our congregations are located in. The rich imagination of the vision Ezekiel describes in ch. 47: 1-12 inspires this orientation. Ezekiel’s guide in the text points out how the water flows from the sanctuary out into the wilderness, bringing life and flourishing where-ever it goes; as it flows it gets deeper and wider until it is a river that cannot be crossed.
Water in the bible often connotes a never ending resource of life – God’s mercy flowing in abundance beyond our wildest imaginations. The invitation to become a public church is rooted in this vision as it begs us to take notice of what happens where God’s mercy flows and to get caught up in what God is up to in those places. God’s abundance can be contrasted with what often feels like a scarcity mindset when we are closed off from the outside world, mainly absorbed with our own worries and anxieties. However, God’s call urges us into the larger environment and relationship there. I hear this as good news to those of us in congregations where the temptation of a scarcity mindset is a daunting reality.
Sitting in that coffee shop years ago, as we dwelled in the vision Ezekiel stoked up in our imaginations for being public churches, one pastor offered a helpful distinction. She pointed out that being a public church is about becoming a vital neighbor within the larger ecosystem of the neighborhood we are a part of. (Shout out to Pr. Brenda at Bethel Lutheran in South Minneapolis for that little gem!) There is lots of talk about vitality and thriving in the church world, but what God’s promises often point to is an understanding of vitality and thriving that is mutual. That flows beyond the sanctuary. That is for all.
This is the arena of our wonderings and work in the Riverside Innovation Hub. Helping churches be vital neighbors is what we are about. It is also the way those of us on staff at RIH have been imagining our role with our neighbors. If you are reading this blog post, you are probably one of our neighbors! Our work and the resources we are able to leverage help us come alongside congregations and ministry leaders chasing after this work of being vital neighbors in our places. And so, as new seasons and new opportunities unfold for our work at RIH, we want to continue to explore how we can be vital neighbors to you – the larger ecosystem of church and ministry leaders doing this work on the ground in your many and varied places.
In early February, some of the Riverside Innovation Hub staff attended and presented at the ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s annual convening, the Extravaganza, in Anaheim, CA. Amanda Vetsch and Kristina Fruge presented what we heard at the Threshold Event.
The purpose of the workshop was to share the wisdom we, at Augsburg’s Riverside Innovation Hub, are learning from young adults about their hopes, dreams and concerns for the church. In particular the about key learnings from a recent event we hosted on campus this fall, when we gathered a diverse group of young adults from around the country, representing a wide variety of ecumenical backgrounds and other lived experiences.
Before we dove into the presentation portion of our conversation, we used Mentimeter to poll the in-person and virtual attendees. This helped us get a sense of who was attending and practice using a new tech tool. Both groups were from across the country, with a strong portion in the Midwest. We were fairly caffeinated, and the majority of both workshop groups believe that the person in the middle seat on the plane does NOT get both armrests. After the icebreaker and Menti practice, we dove into presenting about who we are, what we did, and what we heard.Continue reading “The E: Young Adult Book Project Workshop”→
Our congregational facilitator, Geoffrey Gill, has been exploring his own vocation of vlogging. It is an honor to share on our CCV blog another inspirational video of his. It has been an opportunity to see through Geoffrey’s perspective of the world and how he inspires us to continue to show up as our authentic selves and to use our voice and actions to care for our neighbors around us in brave and powerful ways. Please enjoy!
A journey of self-discovery and empowerment! In my latest vlog, I delve into the impact of body language and the importance of being true to yourself. This thought-provoking vlog was inspired by MLK Day and will leave you feeling inspired to embrace your power, find your voice, and follow your heart. — Geoffrey Gill
Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub (RIH) was awarded a Thriving Congregations grant through the Lilly Endowment to support work with area congregations. RIH has been convening learning communities of congregations since 2018. This next opportunity to partner will be our third RIH learning community exploring the call to BE neighbor, rooted in our faith and curious about God’s invitation to be in relationship with the neighborhood.
Churches who become a learning partner will journey together with 10-12 congregations over two years shaped by these characteristics. This time will include gathering for large group learning events 3-4 times a year, gathering with cohorts of several congregations and an RIH facilitator to support and share wisdom with one another, work done individually by congregational teams supported by an RIH facilitator, and opportunities for team leaders from congregations to connect around leading this work in our congregations.
Project Description & Eligibility
Riverside Innovation Hub
Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub is an incubator for people and communities exploring the public church in the neighborhood. These congregations learn a process for discerning how God is inviting them to become more engaged in their neighborhoods.
Congregations interested in pursuing the application process are asked to have their senior pastor submit a letter of intent to apply, via a google form. Letters of intent will be accepted on a rolling basis, until the end of the application period.
Submission of your letter of intent will:
Allow congregations to indicate why they are applying for the project.
Help RIH staff streamline communications as the application process moves forward by adding you to direct mailings about the process and being available to you for further conversation.
Help your congregational leaders move through the application process in a timely and thoughtful way.
The application is a google form, but please see the questions in a pdf below.
Recruit your senior pastor and one lay leader to complete the application and involve others from your congregation in the process as relevant for your context (ie council leadership, staff, lay leaders). You are welcome to complete the application sections as a group or have one person submit it all after your group has worked on it.
You may submit the application the following ways:
Option 1: Written application (written by one or multiple people) submitted via google form below
Option 2: Video submission with cover letter with the information of first section of the application. If you are sending us a video, you can break it up into videos for each section (10 minutes or less) or one video (around 30 minutes or less). You can submit the videos in each section below if they are broken up or one video in the last section.
Option 3: Hybrid submission. You are welcome to submit a mixture of videos and written answers. In each section, but the first, is a place to upload a video if you would like.
Option 4: If there is a barrier to submit written or video submissions for your congregations, please reach out to Ellen Weber (firstname.lastname@example.org) about additional possibilities.
Have you ever left a meeting and the minute you sign off or walk away you just smile as a wave of gratitude washes over you? That happened to me after meeting with Jaelyn Arndt, an Augsburg alum and current Assistant Director of Communications at the NCAA.
We at the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) were intrigued to hear Jaelyn’s story after a tweet last summer where she answered the question “What is your calling?” She credits the Auggie support system for helping her find her dream. We, at CCV are curious to know the various ways we see vocation lived out on a daily basis in the lives and work of our Augsburg colleagues, students, alums, and our neighbors in the Cedar-Riverside and Seward neighborhoods.
By vocation we mean the ways we are compelled, empowered, challenged, freed, and responsible to show up (individually and collectively) in ways that help our neighbors and neighborhoods thrive. We believe every individual and every institution experiences a vocational tug.
This is a story about how an Augsburg alum became an engaged neighbor through learning about her own vocation.
Jaelyn graciously agreed to meet with me (Ellen Weber) via Zoom from Indiana and share her story.
When Jaelyn came to Augsburg to tour, she was guided by our Volleyball Head Coach, Jane Becker and Assistant Coach, Jennifer Jacobs. She walked away from that tour years ago thinking, “These are my people!” So after her senior year at Washburn, she started at Augsburg and was part of the volleyball team.
Throughout her time at Augsburg, Jaelyn leaned on her volleyball teammates and staff like family. “Because it is a D3 school, people actually cared about me and my wellbeing.” The volleyball team was a place where Jaelyn learned who people are. “Before the season started, our coach would give us working packets about our teammates. We had workshops where we learned each other’s love languages, how we like to be approached, and how we give feedback. We started our practices sharing what we were grateful for or sharing how our day was. It mattered who we are and that we knew who actually was on the court with us.” Continue reading ““Learning My Calling of Storytelling” at Augsburg: Jaelyn Arndt’s Vocation Story”→
Dr. Christina Erickson, Social Work on January 24th, 2023
Reading: By Anne LaMott
My coming to this vocation did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved. I can see how flimsy and indirect a path they made. Yet each step brought me closer to the verdant pad on which I stay afloat today.
Good morning – I have been a social worker for 30 years and I felt like that gave me an easy out on this vocation stuff –easy, it was my work – which I described as making the world a better place. Becoming a social work professor was a natural evolution of that original vocational path. I was set. No more discoveries to be made. What I never expected, was a mid-life vocation that would grip me for more than 10 years. Like Ann Lamott describes, I can look back and see how I leapt from lily pad to lily pad through the course of my life, never knowing that those experiences would become so important to a mid-life vocation I couldn’t have imagined.
Lily pad 1…..My mother’s spanking – so futile, so “not into it”, her swings and misses. My own wriggling away. My father’s spanking – so scary, so shaming, having to stop himself because he was big and strong. My 3 older brothers spankings, – so harsh, so much anger in both directions.
My family of origin, the family I grew up in, was happy, I felt loved, we were loud, we laughed, 5 children and 2 parents who were high school sweethearts, pregnant before they were married despite strict Catholic upbringings, we were fine and good and my parents spanked us. My parents hit us. They never hit each other, they never hit the dog, but spanking a child on the butt….that was acceptable, anytime, parental decision alone, no child input needed. In spanking, the perpetrator is always right and the victim is always wrong.
Lily pad 2….my high school boyfriend. We met in the tennis module of gym class. We were separated by gender (this was 1984) through the whole unit until the end when the ranked boys played the ranked girls. He was ranked first in his gender and I in mine. We had to battle it out, and while I lost handily, it was love, love. We started dating. 2 years into our high school romance I punched him in the stomach in my parent’s basement family room. I have no memory of why, but I remember the event vividly. My anger, my punching, the look on his face.
Lily pad 3 – I go to graduate school in social work and begin my field experience at The Initial Intervention Unit in child and family services. We were the first social workers to visit a home or school with a child abuse investigation. I see the effects of hitting on little bodies. I see the pain and shame of parents who have to talk to us. I feel their struggle, I see their love for their children.
Written by Adrienne Kuchler Eldridge, Institute Program Director
Since 2005, Augsburg University has been gathering high school students from all over the country for an annual weeklong on-campus experience focused on theological exploration and vocational discernment. This gathering is one of 90+ Youth Theology Network programs across the country. This program is a collaborative effort sponsored by Augsburg University’s Christensen Center for Vocation and supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc. What an incredible gift to be able to do this work with young people.
UNCERTAINTY AND HOPE
These last three years, young people have navigated online schooling, virtual meetings, programs ending and not returning, friends graduating and not returning, the staff that supported them being laid off or leaving positions. This has been difficult. We know that.
The impact of the pandemic has confirmed what we have known all along about young people, they want a place to belong and make sense of how to use the gifts God has given them for a more loving and just world. The places and spaces where they could co-create that beautiful world were shut down and in some cases never returned. Coming back from that feels like starting over. And that is hard. Yet, the youth theology institute at Augsburg has continued to be a place that offers hope and community for high school participants and college mentors. Read one story here from a former Augsburg student, institute mentor, and past participant.
We have always known that attending our program is an additional opportunity for young people. High school students are competing for for multiple activities demanding their time. We offer a place where they can authentically be themselves and the experience of belonging. No matter who they are, where they come from, how they identify, who they love – God has created them in God’s image and their story matters here.Continue reading “Introducing THE CONFLUENCE!”→
The Riverside Innovation Hub (RIH) will be launching its third congregational learning community in September of 2023. This opportunity is part of the Thriving Congregations project, through the Lilly Endowment. This work is also made possible through the support of individual donors and congregational sponsors.
Congregations interested in pursuing the application process with the RIH project are asked to have their senior pastor submit a letter of intent to apply, via this google form. Letters of intent will be accepted on a rolling basis starting January 24th, 2023.
Submission of your letter of intent will:
1) Allow congregations to indicate why the are considering to join the project.
2) Help RIH staff streamline communications as the application process moves forward by adding you to direct mailings about the process and being available to you for further conversation.
3) Help your congregational leaders move through the application process in a timely and thoughtful way.
The application and more detailed information will be made available FEBRUARY 15, 2023 and the application deadline is APRIL 20th, 2023.
RIH will continue helping congregations live into “placed-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good” through two-year learning communities of twelve congregations. The first learning community runs July 2021 – July 2023 and the second learning community runs September 2023 – September 2025.