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Staff Celebrations and Vocation Reflections

We are excited to share updates directly from our staff to you regarding our celebrations and where we are feeling called to show up as we individually and collectively explore our vocations. We asked our staff the following questions: One thing you would like to celebrate about your work from the last academic year? and What is one thing you have learned about your own vocation this last year or something you are interested in digging into more deeply when it comes to your vocation this summer and fall? 


Headshot of Kristina Fruge staring out to the left with clouds behind her. Kristina Fruge

Managing Director, CCV, 7 years this month!

I am celebrating the creation of our upcoming book written by young adults to the church. Over the past year plus, 22 authors have been gathered and supported through the writing of 11 distinct chapters – each chapter speaking to a topic young adults would like to see the church give more energy to. Currently, I am compiling and revising these chapters into a manuscript we will submit to the publisher by the end of summer. This was an incredible creative task with lots of moving parts (and authors!) As the primary editor, I am excited about what this writing community has crafted. Their collection of voices on several meaningful themes is something I am honored to steward and eager to get printed and bound and into the hands of many readers!

One of my strengths is being a connector. While I get to utilize this gift in many ways in my work, we are approaching a season of our work where I’m noticing a growing need to apply this gift more strategically. As a leader, the call I am sensing is one that utilizes my gifts as a connector towards stewarding the trustworthy relationships we have cultivated over the years of our Riverside Innovation Hub work while also investing in relationships that build sustainability for the work and to continue. Continue reading “Staff Celebrations and Vocation Reflections”

“You are Invited”

Facilitator Reflection

Written by Brenna Zeimet

A collage of photos from the learning event. Kristina speaking to the group at the podium, Pastor Marty smiling at the camera, post-it work from a team, and the Roseville team gathered at their table. As I reflect on this event, I am awash with a sense of expectant hope. As I wandered the tables and listened to conversations and sat one to one talking with folks, I was struck by how much has changed in such a short time. 

The conversations have changed from questioning what we’re doing here and what this is all about, to finding deep connection with the neighbor’s story and searching for a place in the narrative of the community. Where do we fit? What should we be paying attention to? Who do we need to be to meet our neighbor where they are today? It was no longer a skeptical questioning of this process or a planning session for new programs, this community has begun to fall in love with the people around them and that love is driving change in our worldview and our identity as the Church. We are changing as we adapt to the heartbeat of God for people.

I am excited about what this season of Interpretation will bring as we dig deep into the beliefs and assumptions that drive our actions. We will examine how our worldview brings hope and where it causes harm or puts up barriers to authentic and vulnerable relationship. These teams are ready to engage this intense and transformative work, and the health that will flow from this time will bring change to our churches and our neighborhoods.


At our last learning event Kristina Fruge shared a letter with our RIH community to open our space both online and in person. It was written with inspiration from her friend Lauren out in Spokane, WA. It was a beautiful way to open and close our event and there are invitations she names that are good reminders on how we can create places of belonging for all our neighbors. We share it with you in hopes that it will continue to nourish your soul as you embark on this work of being neighbor in the world in the midst of all the feelings of being human.  Continue reading ““You are Invited””

A Devotion and Invitation to Reflect on Interpretation

Written by Geoffrey Gill

A pond with grass, lilly pads, ripples and a fishing pole. Greetings,

In the flow of our everyday lives, finding moments of peace to hear the quiet, divine whispers can be out of sight and out of mind. Today, I’m reaching out to share such a moment with you.

This is my invitation for you to join me in a quiet reflection on the profound connections between the sacred words of scripture and the intricate details of our personal journeys. As we consider how the living words of scripture, like fresh waters, bring vitality and clarity to our lives, let us pause and be present in the serenity of this understanding. Together, let’s explore how these deeper truths resonate within our own stories, guiding us towards deeper insights and a renewed spirit.


A devotion and Invitation to Reflect on Interpretation

Peace,

In my life there is this constant movement and noise, it’s sometimes very challenging to find moments of true stillness—moments where I can pause and be deeply present with the divine whispers that my busy day usually drowns out. Today, I am extending an invitation to you, an invitation to take a moment and journey with me into a reflection on interpretation; an exploration of how the sacred word intertwines with the intimate details of our personal stories. Continue reading “A Devotion and Invitation to Reflect on Interpretation”

Identifying Your Key Theological Claims

Written by Jeremy Myers

When teaching college students how to think theologically, I often hear them say, “I don’t know if I can think theologically because I’m not really even sure what my key beliefs are.” What follows is a process I have used many times when helping high school students, college students, and adults become more aware of the key theological claims that shape how they understand and interpret life. You can go through this process on your own, with a partner, or with a group. If doing with others, find moments when you can share what you are writing with one another and offer feedback to each other. 


Candle on a table in the sun with a group of people and a small table blurred out in the background. Brainstorming Your Core Beliefs

  1. Using index cards, post-its, or small slips of paper, write down all the biblical stories and lessons that are important to you. Write one per piece of paper. Leave room on each piece of paper to add more later.
  2. Continue to use index cards, post-its, or slips of paper and now write all the things you have been taught about God that are most important to you – attributes of God, things God does, things God doesn’t do, how God does things, why God does things, etc. Again, write only one on each piece of paper and leave room on each piece for more writing later.
  3. On each piece of paper write a brief description of why that particular biblical story, biblical lesson, or belief about God is important to you.

Continue reading “Identifying Your Key Theological Claims”

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”

We Invite YOU to join us on the Riverside Collaborative!

Written by Ellen Weber

A residential street named Munster Ave lined with houses and parked cars on a sunny day.
A google map screenshot of Ellen’s street growing up.

Growing up in my Highland Park neighborhood in Saint Paul, we knew our neighbors. We knew which grass to not ride our bike on, which house had the best candy, which yard had the best hide & seek spots. We knew who to go to if we wanted to learn how to knit, which driveway we could build our chalk city in, and who gave out the best Halloween candy (It was the nuns. They loved to give out full-sized candy bars.) It was a neighborhood where I felt alive, nourished, cared for and connected. Us kids, resourced each other. We welcomed each other with open arms and ran up and down the block until the street lights came on and we had to head home.  Continue reading “We Invite YOU to join us on the Riverside Collaborative!”

One to Ones: Overcoming Barriers

Written by Geoffrey Gill

We wall ourselves to protect ourselves. Let’s take a look at a few things that have held me mentally and physically back from really connecting to others and being in community.

These Barriers or walls are things that keep me(us) from experiencing another person’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

*The Heart (passions, hurts, motivations, dreams), 

*Soul ( personality, how they think, communicate, problem solve), 

*Mind (what they believe, worldview, values, sense of self, sense of humor, what they find sacred

*Strength (how they help, skills they bring to the table, the unique beauty they add to the world)


Chain link fence with cars on the highway in the backgroundKey Barriers to One to Ones:

When we do scary and uncomfortable things, our bodies and emotions may react in order to protect ourselves from what our bodies perceive as danger. 

We do this in many ways, here are some examples: 

  • Allowing nervousness or fear of rejection to prevent you from engaging with others can limit opportunities to form meaningful relationships. 
  • Taking the power of someone’s opinion out of the equation
  • Closed-Off Attitude: Not showing genuine interest or curiosity about others can create a barrier to forming deep connections.
  • Poor Nonverbal Engagement: Lack of eye contact and closed body language can signal disinterest, hindering the development of trust and rapport. (80%+ communication)
  • Negative Mindset: Approaching interactions with negativity or skepticism can make conversations strained and uninviting. **Being honest about something that was wrong- and acknowledging it. 
  • Anxiety and self protective responses that protect us from others (If I keep it cool then people won’t know what I really have going on and they cant use it against me)
  • Superficial Sympathy: Focusing only on surface-level sympathy instead of striving for deeper empathy and understanding can lead to shallow connections.
  • Ignoring Personal Boundaries: Pushing too hard for personal information or not respecting someone’s comfort zone can damage trust and discourage further interaction.
  • Overlooking Small Achievements: Not recognizing the importance of small steps in relationship building can lead to missed opportunities for growth and connection.
  • Unprepared Conversations: Entering into interactions without any thought or preparation can result in unproductive and awkward exchanges.
  • Self-Centered Approach: Focusing solely on what you can get out of a relationship, instead of also considering what you can contribute, can create imbalance and hinder genuine connection.
  • Lack of Presence: Being distracted or not fully engaged in conversations can make others feel undervalued and disrespected.

Continue reading “One to Ones: Overcoming Barriers”

One to Ones: Tool for Deep Conversations

 

Two alum smiling while hugging at the table

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 last layer of accompaniment, one to ones.

You can also read more about the other three layers – Understanding Demographic Data, Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood, and Engaging Listening Posts.

Tools for Deep Conversations

Written by Brenna Zeimet 

The desire to know and be known is at the core of our being as humans. Our compassion, our actions, and our hearts are driven by the relationships and stories of the people around us. When we understand others deeply and connect their experience to our own, we are compelled to love them, it is how we are wired.

Most of us navigate the world as the star of our own story, we spend our days running our errands, chasing our goals and interacting with the friends and family that complete our story’s cast of characters. Every single day we pass dozens of other humans, on the road, in our schools, in the grocery store, even on our own block. Like extras on a movie set, those people wander through the scenes that make up our days and for the most part, we are oblivious to their existence.

What if we got curious about the characters that pass us everyday? What if when we thought about the people who we share space with we saw human beings with stories and dreams and value. What if we began to investigate the depth and beauty and friendships that we are missing out on each day?

Any good story hinges on character development, we connect with the characters when we understand their essence. We want to know their backstory, their motivation, their strengths, their goals, how they think, what they love, what breaks their heart. Knowing your neighbor involves getting to know their essence, moving beyond surface conversation about the weather and sports, and having real, deep, curious conversations – conversations that result in knowing and being known. Continue reading “One to Ones: Tool for Deep Conversations”

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”

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.