Bing tracking

Faith in Action: Reflecting God’s Relational Essence

A round table of a team during our last learning community looking down at their prayer walk. "I have been trying to figure out this whole time what our project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships are The Project... Alice in our RIH Learning Community"In between our learning events, our facilitators Geoffrey and Brenna spend time with the congregations in cohorts. We asked Brenna and Geoffrey to reflect what they are hearing and experiencing with their learning cohorts.

Brenna’s Reflection

As we journey together through our season of accompaniment, our teams are learning a lot about their neighbors and what it means to be a public church. In our March cohort meeting we heard stories of engaging with schools, local police, members in our congregations, and local pastors from other churches. Our teams have begun to explore their neighborhoods on prayer walks and they’ve been meeting in local coffee shops and restaurants to listen and learn. They’ve engaged in public forums and local events and even attended Iftar dinners with their Muslim neighbors. Their curiosity and love for their neighbors is growing and it culminated in an exciting moment at our March cohort meeting where one of our team members interrupted the sharing time with an epiphany, “I have been trying to figure out this whole time what out project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships Are The Project”. They’re starting to catch it, knowing and loving your neighbor is the whole goal.

Geoffrey’s Reflection

Continue reading “Faith in Action: Reflecting God’s Relational Essence”

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”

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. 

The Journey Begins…

Written by Brenna Zeimet

Overhead view of the chapel space with 3 people on the stage for a panel and the audience at round tables. On September 16th church leaders from across the country gathered in person and via zoom to embark on a two year journey towards becoming vital neighbors in their communities. Riverside Innovation Hub launched three cohorts of churches, two of them composed of local congregations from the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area, and one distance cohort that will meet online with congregations from Oregon, Massachusetts, and rural Minnesota. We’re inspiring the flourishing of our neighbors from coast to coast!

Cohort participants got the opportunity to learn from our own Jeremy Myers about the Art of Becoming Public Church; diving deep into the cultural impacts of postmodernism, church outreach models, and what our neighbors want and need from us in our post-pandemic world. Jeremy helped our congregations think through what the public church framework is and why it is important to engage our neighbors in a different way than the Church has before.

Next our congregations explored their “why” with the help of our program director, Kristina Fruge. She walked through what it means to engage in “place based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good”, and then invited congregations to talk about their own places and the common good they long to work for in their particular public squares. Congregations also heard from each of our staff members about our own personal “why” that drives us to do this work of investing in our neighbors and building relationships for the flourishing of others. Over lunch, cohorts talked with each other about their personal “why” and began to build relationships with the co-laborers that will walk beside them on this journey. Continue reading “The Journey Begins…”

Embracing Discomfort: A Skiing Adventure with Friends

Written by Geoffrey Gill

Geoffrey, Sheila and Kaylie posing for a picture with their winter gear on while skiing on BuckhillRecently, 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.

Geoffrey, Kaylie and Sheila on the Ski Lift posing for a picture.

 

 

 

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.

Launch of RIH Thriving Congregations Partnership Application!

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 over Mississippi River and City skylineRiverside 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.

Learn More about Riverside Innovation Hub

 

Application Process

Step 1: Submit Letter of Intent

Accepted on a rolling basis

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.

Form to Submit a Letter of Intent

Step 2: Learn more: Informational Sessions

colorful pens atop a blank notebook bag with open laptop in the backgroundInformational sessions will be offered in March via zoom.

Thursday, March 9th from 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Monday, March 13th from 7:00pm – 8:00pm
If you missed our information sessions, here is the recording from March 13th.

 

Step 3: Submit Application

Submit on or before April 20, 2023

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 (weber3@augsburg.edu) about additional possibilities.

PDF Copy of the Application

Official Google Form to Submit Applications

 

Step 4: Invitation Process

clipart of calendar with checkmark at the end of the month over the top of a teal circleRIH will review applications and extend invitations to selected congregations  the week of May 16th. Congregations will have until June 8th to accept the invitation.

Augsburg’s learning community begins September 2023 and runs through September 2025. 

 

 

 

Contact us:

Additional questions? You can reach out to Kristina Fruge (frugek@augsburg.edu) or Ellen Weber (weber3@augsburg.edu).

Letter of Intent for Third Learning Community is Open!

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.

Facilitator Geoffrey Gill having a conversation standing with 4 others.
Participants gathered  at our RIH Learning Event in Summer 2022.

Project Overview

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.

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • Letter of Intent Opens: January 24th, 2023.
  • Application Opens: February 15th, 2023.
  • Application Closes: April 20th, 2023.
  • Invitations sent out to accepted congregations: Week of May 16th, 2023
  • Congregations accept invitations: June 8th, 2023.
  • Community starts: September 2023

Congregations who are a part of this learning community will develop and deepen the knowledge, skills, habits, and values to engage in this work of place-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good through a method we call the Public Church Framework. Continue reading “Letter of Intent for Third Learning Community is Open!”

PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers

As a way of teaching congregations how to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods, we introduce them to a method we call the Public Church Framework. This framework consists of four movements including accompaniment, interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. These movements bleed into one another and collectively are cyclical, or a spiral, in that they are never completed but rather lead to further and deeper practice of these movements. We like to think of this framework as descriptive of what we do when we are attentive to God and to our neighbor rather than prescriptive of some “one true way” to be in ministry. 

In the beginning of October, we gathered together as a learning community to explore the artform of proclamation. The RIH Learning Partners gathered in the chapel. But what is proclamation and why does it matter? 

There is a concept within the philosophy of language called performative utterances. This idea was developed by philosopher John L. Austin in the 1940’s and 1950’s . He was arguing against the notion that all words and statements are only descriptive or evaluative. He uncovered certain phrases and uses of words that are not intended to be descriptive at all, but are rather intended to be performative. A classic example he would use is the utterance, “’I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’ – as uttered when smashing the bottle against the stem.” Other examples would include, “I now pronounce you equal partners in marriage”, or “I forgive you.” These words and phrases are not describing or evaluating anything, rather they are doing things.

This idea of performative utterances helps us understand what we mean when we talk about the word of God. God’s words are performative utterances. They do things. In the first chapter of Genesis, God is not describing or evaluating what the cosmos has or will look like. Instead, God is calling the cosmos into being. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, NRSV). But the performative utterances of God do not only show up as spoken words throughout scripture. In the second creation narrative, God is not speaking a word – only acting. “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground . . . A river flows out of Eden to water the garden . . .” (Genesis 2:4b-6, 10, NRSV). There are times in scripture where God’s creative force is shared with the world through performative utterances, and there are times in scripture where God’s creative force is water.

Continue reading “PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers”

What If? By Shae. Cunningham (Team Messiah)

I have known Shae for some years now and she has always had such a big and kind heart. She exemplifies what it means to love without conditions. Her relationship with God is her foundation and something that I have always admired. Shae has the ability to tap into the deepness within, drawing out inspiration for all those around her. This Poem reveals how much pain and hurt she has felt in and for her community, and she poses this mind expanding question; which is more of a possibility…what if things were different? ~RIH Facilitator Geoffrey Gill 


What If? "What if?" in the middle of a blue sky with trees around it. Perspective taken from the ground looking up.

What happens in the neighborhoods where children are overshadowed by the decay and they no longer laugh or play the way they used to, 

A place where young boys choose to follow figures who had no father figures who become casualties for a war for their drug king before their adolescence. 

Becoming murals to be forgotten and only to be remembered by their laugh lines, pictures, and eventually chalk lines and yellow tape, 

A young tragedy like Romeo and Juliet except the streets is the Juliet where young Romeos become the prey and become entangled in this dangerous love affair and drink the poison that results them to become misguided lights and lead them to extinction.  Continue reading “What If? By Shae. Cunningham (Team Messiah)”

Our MAS Partner Nick Tangen “Let’s Get Real”

Last year, Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub and The Minneapolis Area Synod (MAS) both launched opportunities for congregations to be a part of a two-year learning community. We both are in the middle of the work with our first cycle of a two-year learning community. Over the last year and half, it has truly been a joy spending time learning with each other and from each other’s work. A highlight has been reading each other’s reflections and writings on how we engage in this work of being neighbor in our places and world.

This week, we want to highlight the most recent reflection Nick Tangen wrote “Let’s Get Real” from his experience at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio. He extends to us the invitation to join in the messiness, the vulnerability and realness that comes with wrestling with “What will need to die and rise again in order for each of us as the ELCA to embrace the reconciliation Jesus has set us free to participate in?”. We are grateful for this partnership and for Nick and his team to be in the work alongside us.

Stone arch bridge during the day background with gray box and "Do we want to be good or real?"“Retamoza’s words have been with me all week. In some ways this challenge captures so clearly my own discomfort with the work of the Assembly; did we want to be good or real? This is, I think, a real tension for us as a church – at all three expressions. It’s a tension ongoing for myself. I know my own desire to appear good, to fall into the trap of perfectionism and performance, and I know how limiting that is when trying to root out injustice and inequity in our life together.

This invitation into the vulnerability, the messiness, and the real-ness of confession and reconciliation stood in such stark contrast to the Assembly. The carefully curated plenaries with the steady march towards resolution felt oddly incongruous with the challenge to deeply listen to the cries of prophetic grief. While I am grateful for the provisions and memorials that the Assembly approved, it was the lament and experience of prophetic grief in worship and from the leaders of Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Perigrina that my heart continues to return to. I feel both profoundly determined and deeply anxious about the church that I love.”

Read the entire blog post here on the Minneapolis Area Synod blog!