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Apply Now! Invite Your Youth to Join Us at The Confluence, June 23rd-28th, 2024

Mentors and Confluence staff at the end of the week celebration

Apply Now! Invite your youth to join us at The Confluence, June 23rd-28th, 2024

Written by Gretchen Roeck

Do you know a high school student who is trying to figure out who they are and what kind of life they want to live? Invite them to attend The Confluence

The Confluence at Augsburg University is a week where high schoolers are invited to explore their vocation — that space where their personal story, God’s story and the world’s story converge. 

Invite the youth you know to our weeklong, on-campus, summer program for high school students who have completed 9th-12th grades. 

Students will learn through:

– vocational discernment

– meaningful peer relationships  

– experiential learning with local leaders and organizations in the TwinCities

– personal reflection and discernment

– small group conversation led by current Augsburg student mentors

– spiritual practices and daily worship

– theological inquiry and study with Augsburg professor, Dr. Jeremy Myers. 

The group at the overlook over the Mississippi River.We hope to reach curious youth who want to live purposefully in relationship with their neighbors, orientated to God’s vision of a just and sustainable world for all. Questions and doubts are welcome. 

Cost: $400/participant. Participants are responsible for transportation to and from Augsburg University. 

Apply now at: https://www.augsburg.edu/confluence/join-us-this-summer/

Application Deadline: May 15th

Augsburg Scholarship Opportunity:  Students who attend The Confluence and decide to attend Augsburg University as a full-time student will receive a minimum of $20,000 applied to their financial aid package for up to four years.

 

Questions? 

Please contact Gretchen Roeck, Program Director

roeck@augsburg.edu

612-330-1412

augsburg.edu/confluence

Accompaniment Event Reflection

Written by facilitators Brenna and Geoffrey

In late January we hosted our learning event focused on the Artform of Accompaniment. Brenna and Geoffrey reflect below on lessons and learnings from that event. 

Whiteboard filled with handwritten notes in various colors, located indoors near a red-brick wall.Trust the Process: A Journey of Connection and Transformation

This past January, a gathering took place at Augsburg University, marking the beginning of an extraordinary journey for our congregations. We embarked on a path to explore and embody the art of accompaniment, a journey aimed at not just knowing about the neighbor, actually knowing the neighbor, and unraveling a new way of being church in the world.

The Essence of Accompaniment

Accompaniment, the first of four art forms we dive into, challenges us to not just know about our neighbors but to actually really know them—to see their essence. This deep understanding is fundamental, setting the stage for the upcoming art forms of interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. Our learning event was more than an educational endeavor; it was an invitation to transform how we interact and perceive the people around us. Continue reading “Accompaniment Event Reflection”

Making a lot of this up as I go Along

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.


This week’s Uncovering Vocation talk is given by Jenean Gilmer. Jenean holds a B.A. in Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature and a Master of Heritage Studies & Public History from the University of Minnesota. She is invested in building collaborative projects and partnerships that deepen our understanding of one another, the communities we live in, and the land that we live on. She has previously worked with the Minnesota Historical Society, the Sioux Chef, A Public History of 35W, Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis, and the Urban Farm & Garden Alliance in Saint Paul’s Rondo and Frogtown neighborhoods. Jenean builds relationships on and off campus that create learning opportunities for students and provide support to community partners in Cedar-Riverside and beyond.


If you happened to catch my last Chapel Talk, you already know that I am deeply suspicious of the word, “vocation.” The great source of knowledge for our time, Wikipedia, tells us, 

“Use of the word “vocation” before the sixteenth century referred firstly to the “call” by God to an individual…more specifically to the “vocation” of the priesthood, or to religious life, which is still the usual sense in Roman Catholicism which recognizes marriage, religious, and ordained life as the three vocations. Martin Luther, followed by John Calvin, placed a particular emphasis on vocations, or divine callings, as potentially including most secular occupations.”

My suspicions arise largely from the coevolution of Protestantism and capitalism, wherein work and the accumulation of wealth take on a spiritual significance, the roots of which deeply inform the way we think of wealth, worth, and work today. When I read Max Weber’s, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, while a student at the U, it was REVEALATORY. It helped me make sense of myself in a way that I might not have otherwise. 

By the time I was about six years old, we stopped going to church. In Sunday school I asked too many questions and was sent outside while the class continued without me, meant to think about how disruptive I was, about my badness. Mom was pretty pissed about this. Regardless, I continued to say my prayers at night and I was raised with Christian values and an encompassing sense of the importance of a good work ethic. To learn how deeply intertwined these concepts are, particularly in U.S. American culture, is to understand that worth, work and wealth are, in many ways, one and the same. 

I learned this consciously from reading Weber, but knew it intimately from my lived experience. I come from a long line of poor people. I was born to an unwed, teenage mother in a small town in rural Minnesota, in the hot summer of 1977. I was adopted by my grandparents when I was two years old. Shortly after, we moved out of that town to the country outside of Zimmerman.  Continue reading “Making a lot of this up as I go Along”

Introducing our new Program Director for The Confluence: Gretchen Roeck!

Headshot of Gretchen in front of a colorful backgroundGretchen Roeck is passionate about inviting youth to engage, critically examine and discern their gifts and call in the world. She loves empowering youth and young adults to be leaders in their own lives and communities. She dreams of building communities of people who are fully alive, connected and invested in one another’s flourishing. 

Gretchen joined the Christensen Center for Vocation team in January 2024 as the Program Director for The Confluence. The Confluence is CCV’s summer institute for high school students, offering youth an opportunity to engage in vocational discernment by exploring the ways their own story merges with God’s story and the world’s story. Gretchen is excited to be a part of the CCV team and their work to inspire and equip people of faith to creatively orient their lives and work around Jesus’ call to be neighbor. 

In addition to her work with The Confluence, Gretchen is a Priest in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. She leads Children’s Ministry at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, and is the chaplain at Circle of the Beloved, an intentional living community for young adults in North Minneapolis. Gretchen spent the last five years serving as the Priest and Internship Director at the University Episcopal Community, a campus ministry for young adults across the Twin Cities. Her ministry has been focused on children, youth and young adults –inviting them into a relationship with God, fostering their personal growth, walking alongside them and guiding young people in their spiritual and vocational journeys. She is committed to building and sustaining safe, inclusive and welcoming communities that lead towards health and wholeness for individuals and their broader communities. 

Creating safe, supportive and loving spaces extends into Gretchen’s personal life. She is the mother of two fun and creative boys, Elliott and Abraham, ages 10 and 6. Together they share a home in Minneapolis with Brigid the dog, and George and Molly, the cats.

Accompaniment: The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework. It is the movement out into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ stories. In this movement, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor for the neighbor’s sake. We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the second layer of accompaniment, a prayer walks in the neighborhood. 

You can also read more about the previous layer in our last blog post – Becoming familiar with the Demographics of your neighborhood

Infographic of a triangle with four layers labeled 'Demographic Data,' 'Prayer Walk,' 'Listening Posts,' and 'One-on-Ones.'

Demographic Data Statistics describing various demographic trends in a geographic area.
Prayer Walk A reflective walk seeking places of hope and despair in the neighborhood.
Four Layers of Accompaniment
Listening Posts Places in the neighborhood where the community gathers.
One-on-Ones Conversations with neighbors about their lives.Often congregations may begin at the top of the triangle and work down as a pathway to getting to know the neighbor. However, notice the proportions of each of the layers match the amount of time folks are encouraged to spend with each aspect. Demographic information begins to help us get to know things about our neighbors and may spark curiosity around things we want to learn more about, but to really get to know our neighbors, one to one conversations are at the heart of building real relationships.


The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood

Written by Kristina Frugé 

The practice of a neighborhood prayer walk is inspired by the  Ignatian Awareness Examen, a contemplative prayer exercise that guides you through an examination of your day as you prayerfully seek moments of desolation and moments of consolation.

Moments of desolation are times of sorrow, brokenness, fear, anxiety, etc.

Moments of consolation are times of hope, healing, courage, peace, etc.

People working on a map labeled "Plymouth Church Prayer Walk" at a table.You can use the lens of desolation and consolation as you walk through the neighborhood in which your faith community is located, asking God to show you the places of desolation and consolation in that neighborhood. The general outline of this activity includes walking through the neighborhood, paying particular attention to what stands out as consolation and desolation. Then, together, with people in your faith community, reflect on what you saw, felt, sensed and heard and map the locations of those places of consolation and desolation on a shared map. You will find some simple instructions at the end of this post to help you plan for a prayer walk. However, while this activity is fairly straightforward, there are some important aspects to be aware of as you begin.

In all of our efforts to become vital neighbors, we will find ourselves encountering people and places we don’t know or don’t know very well. We will encounter differences between ourselves and others – whether it be racially, religiously, socio-economically, generationally, or across so many other distinctions. We also expect to experience connection as we discover similarities – love of the same local business, or our pets, or our children, or perhaps share similar fears or longings for ourselves and our neighborhoods.  Continue reading “Accompaniment: The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood”

Becoming Familiar with the Demographics of Your Neighborhood

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework. It is the movement out into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ stories. In this movement, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor for the neighbor’s sake. We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the first layer of accompaniment, the Demographics of the Neighborhood. 


Introduction

Written by Jeremy Myers

Kristina's neighborhood street with snow in the evening as the sun is settingSummary and Learning Outcomes

This lesson is intended to help individuals and/ or teams gather the demographic data of their particular neighborhoods and begin reflecting on that data in order to gain more insight into those who live in that particular neighborhood. Completing this lesson should help you:

  1. be able to find and collect the demographic data of those who live within a particular neighborhood.
  2. know more about the people who live their lives within this particular neighborhood.
  3. develop a deeper sense of empathy for these neighbors and become curious about how you might get to know them better.

Preparation

  1. Use “Preparing to Lead the Lesson Plan” to help you complete these following steps in preparation for leading this lesson.
  2. Read “What is Accompaniment?” and “Why Demographics?”.
  3. Generate your Demographic Report and familiarize yourself with it.
  4. Gather the following materials below. 

Materials

Continue reading “Becoming Familiar with the Demographics of Your Neighborhood”

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.