Bing tracking

A Much Needed Reminder

Shared by Ellen Weber

At a recent vocation chapel, our speaker shared this blessing as an opening reading. It was lovely and a much needed reminder. 

May we continue to show up true to who we are. 

May we remember that the small ordinary moments are worth blessing. 

That the small things that you do every day matter. 

That we each are worthy of love and no resolution will make us more worthy. 

May it inspire us to continue to work together towards justice, not to earn worthiness, but because we understand that we are in this life together. That we are called by our faith to show up as neighbor with an open heart and open arms reminding those that they matter and demanding that the world see it too. 

A New Year’s Blessing for realists by Nadia Bolz-Weber. 

As you enter this new year, as you pack away the Christmas decorations and get out your stretchy pants, Continue reading “A Much Needed Reminder”

Neighbor, Beloved Child of God, You Matter

Written by Kristina Frugé 

Wrapping up a season of orientation 

As we wrap up the calendar year of 2023, our RIH learning community is concluding its first season of work – the season of orientation. These first few months of gathering, learning and connecting have been saturated with lots of new ideas, invitations and challenges. I may have heard one or two folks describe this season feeling as though we’ve been drinking from a fire hydrant – a fair way to describe it. However, our intention has been to zoom out in this season and look at the journey ahead from the 30,000 foot perspective. We have been aiming to offer an overview of a new map of sorts.  We believe this map will help our learning community of folks explore God’s call to them in this present moment of our changing world. 

Kristina staring out to the trees and land below from a mountain.For many of us in congregations, we’ve been working off of older tried and true maps to help us get our bearings and shape our ministries. Those maps may have been more reliable in previous times. However, the landscape of the world we live in and its challenges has shifted significantly in recent decades. These shifts have only intensified in recent years…the global health crisis of Covid 19, a racial uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, increased economic insecurities, a growing mental health crisis, increasing impacts of our global climate crisis, war and violence, just to name a few.  The list of hurts, heartaches and fears in the world and in our own lives is overwhelming. The church has been deeply impacted by this increasingly unpredictable landscape. But also,  we are a people rooted in a story that is rooted in love and whose fruits are intended to bring healing, nourishment and wholeness to God’s creation. This means that while the church attends to its own struggles, it is simultaneously holding a particular call to help respond to the bad news being generated daily in our communities and around the globe. 

We need new maps. And we need to cultivate different orienteering skills that help us show up in the world looking for and aligned with God’s vision for flourishing and mending in our places. Our season of orientation has attempted to offer some insights on these new maps to inform the journey we intend to pursue together, each in our unique corners of this map…on the ground, from within our congregations’ local neighborhoods.  Continue reading “Neighbor, Beloved Child of God, You Matter”

We Meet Again! A Recap of the Second Writers’ Retreat

Amanda Vetsch, book project coordinator, shares an update on the young adult book project.

The group of writers outside in the sunshine posing for a group photo. The Young Adult Book Project has surpassed another mile marker in our project! Our author team gathered for a second Writers’ Retreat at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center last month. This gathering marks the completion of mile marker #5! We’re just over a year out from The Threshold Envisioning event, where about fifty young adults gathered to share our joys, heartaches, hopes and dreams for the church and the book chapter themes were distilled from those stories and experiences. Since then, we selected a young adult author and a thought leader author to co-write each chapter. We gathered those authors in March at the first Writers’ Retreat to create a shared vision for the book and start the co-writing process. Two authors have had to discern out of this project due to needing to prioritize their time and energy on health and recovery. As people come and go from this project – we give our deep gratitude for the contributions along the way. Their departures created space to invite two new authors in.  Each set of authors has navigated the highs and lows of the writing process, defined and redefined their expectations of each other, and wrestled with their busy schedules to write and revise first and second drafts of their chapters.

The purpose of this second Writers’ retreat was to move into the “Craft Phase” of the book.  Rick Rubin describes the creative process as four phases: Seed, Experimentation, Craft, and Editing & Completion. The “Craft Phase” moves from generating possibilities and ideas into refining material with a clearer sense of direction and structure. For this project that means both the individual chapters and the larger book are beginning to take clearer shape and more cohesive structure. We accomplished this at the retreat by developing a shared larger vision of the overall book, large group discussion and decision making for cohesiveness across chapters, and co-author work time.  Continue reading “We Meet Again! A Recap of the Second Writers’ Retreat”

Surprised by Vocation by Joanne Reeck

Uncovering Vocation Series

Uncovering Vocation is a partnership between Campus Ministry and the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, a member of the Augsburg community is invited to share a component of their vocation story. It has become a way of building community, becoming reacquainted with one another, and celebrating the diversity of people and vocations that make Augsburg University the beautiful place it is.

Advent Vespers Devotional by Jeremy Myers

Monday, December 4th “All Who Love and Serve Your City,” v. 1-3

All who love and serve your city, all who bear its daily stress, all who cry for peace and justice, all who curse and all who bless,

In your day of loss and sorrow, in your day of helpless strife, honor, peace, and love retreating, seek the Lord, who is your life.

Risen One, shall yet the city be the city of despair? Come today, our judge, our glory. Be its name “The Lord is there!”– Text: Erik Routley

Those who love and serve their city know their city. How well do you know your city, or the area in which you live your life? This might not be an actual city. Maybe it’s a neighborhood, or a town, or an apartment complex. Do you love it? Do you bear its daily stress? Do you cry for peace and justices in its streets and hallways? Do you find yourself both cursing and blessing this community where you and so many others live their lives? I imagine the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “yes!” Our neighborhoods are the places where we make our first friends, where we have our first kiss, where we learn, and play, and fight. Our neighborhoods are where we fall in love, raise our families, share meals, and watch each other’s backs. There are gardens in our neighborhoods. There are bones in our neighborhoods. There is turmoil in our neighborhoods. There are peacemakers in our neighborhoods. Do you love and serve your city? Do you know your city? Walk your city today, or take a ride through it, with the words of this hymn in your ears. Keep your eyes wide open because you learn that the Lord is there! Right there in the city you call home.

Give Your Gifts Freely by Dr. Jennifer Diaz (Education)

Uncovering Vocation Series

Uncovering Vocation is a partnership between Campus Ministry and the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, a member of the Augsburg community is invited to share a component of their vocation story. It has become a way of building community, becoming reacquainted with one another, and celebrating the diversity of people and vocations that make Augsburg University the beautiful place it is.

One morning about a month ago, as I was running around the house, getting everyone ready for school, when my 3.5 year old son drew an almost perfect circle on a leather stool with a bright red, permanent marker. When I came in the room he pointed to it with the marker and said, “I did not do this.” I frantically told him: We only draw on paper. And asked him repeatedly, “why did you do that?” He responded with tears, apologies, and a smirky 3 year old smile that told me he was both sorry and not sorry. I don’t think I will ever know “why” he did it but I imagine he got the idea and he couldn’t NOT draw the bright red circle while no one was looking. It was a little bit brave and I think he knew it. He definitely took a risk with his selection of media. But he went for it. 

After scrubbing the chair with nail polish remover, I crouched down next to him and said, “That was a very beautiful circle. Next time, please draw it on paper”. 

I tell this story because I believe in the idea that everyone and everything is a teacher. The story of the red circle is funny and playful (in hindsight of course) and it is also a statement about how I try to understand what each moment is teaching me. And what I am teaching others through my life and work.  Continue reading “Give Your Gifts Freely by Dr. Jennifer Diaz (Education)”

Transforming From Within: Reflections from Cohorts

A drop of water in a lake or river rippling out. Ducks and an eagle are in the horizon along with the sun set. Trees are red and brown along the sides. Geoffrey’s Reflection

Peace friends,

So far, in our shared journey of faith and community, an essential truth emerged: real change begins within. As Lauryn Hill insightfully puts it, “How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” This feels like it resonates as a deep undercurrent with our congregations’. .

We’re on a mission, not just to extend our sacred influence into the neighborhood but to first cultivate it within our own teams. It’s a process of aligning our hearts and minds, ensuring our internal compass is set towards genuine humanity.

This isn’t just about strategy; it’s about soul-searching. We’re engaging deeply with each other, understanding that to truly touch our neighborhood, we must first be united and aligned in our purpose and vision.

As we undertake this internal journey, we’re igniting a transformation that extends beyond our walls. We’re becoming the change we want to see, equipped to be sacred spaces in our neighborhood’s story, whether it’s filled with joy or echoes with grief.

This path we’re embarking on is and will be progressively challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. As we align within, our capacity to impact our neighborhoods grows exponentially. We’re not just changing – we’re evolving, ready to make a real ripple in the world around us.


Brenna’s Reflection

October brought the first of many cohort meetings for this round of the Riverside Innovation Hub journey. We met at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bloomington, sharing in the rich history and context of their space. We heard their team members tell stories of teen lock-ins and Sunday school classes held in the room where we met from multiple generations in the past to today. Over the next year, each of our congregations will get a chance to host a cohort meeting in their space so that we can all get a taste of their place and story as we build relationships together. Continue reading “Transforming From Within: Reflections from Cohorts”

Together in Harmony by Jad Habib

Uncovering Vocation Series

Uncovering Vocation is a partnership between Campus Ministry and the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, a member of the Augsburg community is invited to share a component of their vocation story. It has become a way of building community, becoming reacquainted with one another, and celebrating the diversity of people and vocations that make Augsburg University the beautiful place it is.

 

I’m going to start by reading a few quotes that I find fit well in the story I’m about to share. 

  • American Author Jacqueline Woodson shares that “Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”
  • Another American Author Audre Lorde explained once that “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
  • Howard Schultz, a business figure was quoted saying: “I’ve traveled around the world, and what’s so revealing is that, despite the differences in culture, politics, language, how people dress, there is a universal feeling that we all want the same thing. We deeply want to be respected and appreciated for our differences.”
  • American minister and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

The last quote by MLK really resonates with me because as a teenager, I came to the United States on a foreign student visa albeit not on a ship but I am indeed in the same boat now.

On that note, let me introduce myself, my story and why I chose to speak about harmony through Unity.  I hope to show through some of my stories why I feel my calling is that of a unifying person.

I was born in the “République de Côte d’Ivoire” in West Africa known in English as the Ivory Coast, to Lebanese parents in a mostly French speaking household.  I grew up exposed to Ivorian, Lebanese and French cultures and foods. Continue reading “Together in Harmony by Jad Habib”

Meet the Newest Riverside Innovation Hub Congregational Learning Partners!

Written by Brenna Zeimet

Collage of photos of participants from launch event chatting with each other, at their tables, in conversation with each other.Our new Thriving Congregation Learning Community has launched for the 2023-2025 RIH Journey. We have 3 cohorts, two local groups made up of Twin Cities Metro churches and one distance cohort made up of churches from coast to coast. We have a great mix of large suburban churches, smaller outstate churches and everything in between, giving us a diversity of experience and perspectives that will make our learning communities deep wells for growth and change.

Geoffrey Gill has returned as a congregational facilitator. He is at the helm of our distance cohort and will also facilitate one of our local learning communities. His passion for connection and deep relationship allows him to bridge geographical and cultural differences to create a welcoming space where churches from Massachusetts, Oregon, and rural Minnesota can find commonality and bond over the love for their neighbors. This distance cohort combines passion for racial justice in Oregon, innovative ministry to unhoused folks in Massachusetts, and community building across the small towns and cornfields of Southern Minnesota.

Geoffrey’s local cohort includes churches from St Paul to Plymouth who are passionate about doing work in their neighborhoods – amongst immigrants and politicians, for affordable housing and environmental justice, with students and community partners. These churches are joined by a team of mentors from Diamond Lake Lutheran Church in Minneapolis who will share the wisdom they gained as participants in our last round of RIH learning communities.

Brenna Zeimet has joined as our new cohort facilitator and she will be leading the other local cohort as well as piloting a new program for our alumni churches that helps them continue this work and weave the love for the neighbor into the culture of their congregations.

Brenna’s local cohort spans the Twin Cities Metro area, from Roseville to Eagan and St Paul to Bloomington. The churches in this group come from different denominations and neighborhoods, some are historic churches with a long legacy in their communities while others are young congregations who are growing and innovating in their new spaces. They all share an excitement for this work and a desire to live into being vital neighbors who make a difference in the people around them.

This learning community has proved to be passionate and excited to jump into this work. They already have great ideas and partnerships and seem to enter the space with a heart that beats for the neighbor. The feeling as we launch into this two year journey is one of hopefulness and anticipation. These churches are going to be forces for good in their respective communities and they can’t wait to get that ball rolling. For the full list of congregations, check out our RIH website. 

2023 Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium

The Purpose Gap

Dr. Patrick Reyes, Dean of Auburn Seminary

The Christensen Symposium

The Christensen Symposium and the Christensen Center for Vocation were both established to honor the legacy of Dr. Christensen, the 8th president of Augsburg University who served from 1938-1962. His legacy was one of critical inquiry and genuine hospitality. We have drawn these lessons from that legacy which still shape our work.

  • Christian faith liberates minds and lives
  • Diversity strengthens vital communities
  • Inter-faith friendships enrich learning
  • The love of Christ draws us to God
  • We are called to service in the world

It is my hope that you will hear echoes of Dr. Christensen’s lessons in Dr. Reyes’ presentation.

Dr. Patrick Reyes

Image of Dr. Patrick Reyes.Dr. Patrick Reyes currently serves as the Dean of Auburn Seminary in New York City.

He is a Chicano writer, theologian, and executive leader and the award-winning author of The Purpose Gap and Nobody Cries When We Die. Prior to his current position he was the Senior Director of Learning Design for the Lilly Endowment’s Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) where he provided strategy and direction for their diverse programs, grants, and teams supporting the next generation of leaders. In addition, he led the historic fellowships supporting scholars of color, the Institutional Doctoral Network, and partnerships in theological and higher education.

He is a peer among public theologians and deeply respected among faith and justice leaders and funders. He is the current Board President of the Religious Education Association and serves as the Co-Dean of the Freedom Seminary for the Children’s Defense Fund, offering an immersive experience for diverse seminary students from across the country to engage and cultivate prophetic voices with communities on the margins.

Patrick provides leadership on several boards in theological and higher education, publications, and the nonprofit sector, supporting the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and Chicano spiritual and cultural leaders. In the last decade, he has been recognized for his service and scholarship by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Boston University, Claremont School of Theology, Drew University, Children’s Defense Fund, Hispanic Theological Initiative, Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy, and others.

Patrick was also recently inducted into the Morehouse College MLK Jr. Collegium of Scholars. He lives in New Mexico, where he and his family embrace the cultural and religious traditions and communities they have inherited. Continue reading “2023 Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium”