Bing tracking

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

Accompaniment layer pyramid. The order from the top to the bottom are demographic data, prayer walk, listening posts and one to ones. 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.

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”

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”

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”

The Journey of Forming Learning Communities with New Congregations

Written by Geoffrey Gill

a seedling emerging from the soil with the sunshine shining in the background.This year has been a remarkable journey as I’ve engaged with new congregations, forming fresh learning communities. What makes it even more special is the contrast to the previous year when many of these structures were already in place. Now, I find myself in the unique position of shaping the very fabric of our community.

Meeting and getting to know these congregations has been a profound joy. Many resonate with the importance of being active neighbors and are receptive to reimagining their role within the broader church and community. This eagerness for transformation shines through, and it fills me with hope.

A recent podcast touched on grounding ourselves in the present to experience the fullness of God’s presence. In that sacred space, we tap into wisdom and the fruits of the spirit. This message resonated deeply with me, mirroring the longing I perceive in our congregations to evolve, build bridges, and courageously traverse them.

However, the journey isn’t without its challenges. The weighty topics of racial healing, restoration, and confronting prejudice can be difficult. These conversations can sometimes be met with resistance or unease. Yet, the silver lining is the willingness of many to delve into these issues, recognizing their gravity.

A central belief that guides me is that we are combating deep-seated evils that exist beyond mere human conflicts. This battle requires divine guidance and an inward transformation. The biblical message, “the truth shall make you free,” resonates here. True liberation comes from an internal shift, a spiritual renewal.

Much of our work is about showing up, being present, and immersing ourselves in the transformative power of the spirit. Through art forms, we have a medium to interpret the spirit’s movements, allowing for inward transformation. This is an ineffable process, one that’s difficult to articulate. But once clarity emerges, we are called to act, share, and continue the cycle of reflection and action.

In connecting with these congregations, I’ve been moved by their willingness to venture into the unknown, confront their perceptions, and reimagine their worldviews. Despite initial discomfort, there’s an evident zeal and anticipation for the journey ahead.

Introducing Our New Congregational Facilitator: Brenna Zeimet

Brenna's headshotWe are so excited to introduce our new CCV staff member with you all, Brenna Zeimet! 

Brenna joined the Riverside Innovation Hub in June of 2023 as a RIH Congregational Facilitator. She will journey with congregations as they discern their vocational path to loving their neighbors as a vital partner in the community where God has called them. She will facilitate cohorts of church leaders, helping them build a network of support amongst each other to empower the work they are doing for the flourishing of humanity and the common good. Continue reading “Introducing Our New Congregational Facilitator: Brenna Zeimet”

The Art of Building Relationships: Reflections on Establishing New Congregations

Written by Lead Facilitator, Geoffrey Gill

Embarking on new relationships can be a thrilling yet unnerving venture. A whirlwind of questions swirl around in the caverns of my mind: Will they appreciate my eccentricities, or will they view them as a red flag? What if they find me lacking in some way? These daunting thoughts threaten to consume me, yet in a moment of clarity, I understand what truly lies at the heart of this journey – the stories.

a typewriter with the words "the beginning.." zoomed in onAt the inception of each relationship, there lies a narrative waiting to be unfolded. Each person carries with them a unique anthology of experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. These individual stories form the intricate web of human connections, fostering empathy and understanding as we delve deeper into the pages of each other’s lives.

The sacred spaces we create for these stories to flourish is where relationships truly take root. Spaces where judgment is silenced, where authenticity thrives, and where our inhibitions can be set free. In these spaces, we can dare to expose our vulnerabilities, and in the process, foster connections that hold the potential to transform not just us as individuals, but our neighborhoods as well.

As I stand at the precipice of forging new bonds, I embrace the nervous anticipation that accompanies the start of this narrative journey. I may not know what lies ahead, but I have faith in the power of our shared stories. In this space, I can shed my anxieties, leave the apprehension behind, and simply dive into the fascinating world of interconnected lives, one story at a time.

As we venture forth into this process of establishing new congregations, it’s not just about the end result. It’s about the journey, the shared experiences, and most importantly, it’s about every story that weaves us closer together.

The beginning of new relationships is indeed a bit scary, but it’s also incredibly exciting. Because in this journey, we don’t just empower congregations; we build narratives, communities, and ultimately, we build each other.”

Kristina’s Corner: Spring Thaw

Series Description:

Kristina’s Corner is a collection of stories that come out of my own lived experiences as a neighbor in the Longfellow Community of South Minneapolis. They are stories of connection, stories of learning and stories of place. They come out of an effort – sometimes intentional but often accidental – to pay attention to the beauty, the pain and the complexity of our human experience, right here in this little corner of the universe I inhabit. Writing about these stories helps me deepen my roots in this place while also expanding my curiosity about what God is up to here and what that means for how I am called to show up and be a neighbor. In sharing these stories, I hope they invite the reader into a similar curiosity about God’s call to you, rooted in your place.


Spring Thaw

Written by Kristina Frugé 

A flyer on a light post that is of a painted white flower in a blue vase. Small moments can matter in big ways. I find this to be good news. Our days are filled with small moments, many of them pass by insignificantly. Sometimes though, we catch on to them. Sometimes, they give us a glimpse into something beyond ourselves – a truth, an idea, a comfort, a wake up call, an invitation…

I want to share a story about two small moments that collided into an important invitation for me. 

Moment One

Just a handful of months ago, spring was fighting its way through a long snowy winter here in South Minneapolis. As a lifelong Minnesotan, I know how to enjoy the winter season. But winter tends to outstay its hype in my opinion. People talk about the detrimental impacts of the lack of sunshine and vitamin D in the wintertime and its effect on people’s mental health. But the longevity of the cold encourages a lack of connection with other humans as well. This deficiency is also unhealthy I believe.  We lose some of our social ability in the winter, finding it easier to stay cloistered and quiet. And when we do go out in public, we have permission to stay hidden under layers of warm winter gear. It takes way more energy to make eye contact let alone engage in conversation with a passerby. At least, this is how it goes for me. 

I bundled up on a Saturday morning to pick up some groceries at the store. As I wandered up and down the aisles of produce, pasta and cereal, I was startled by a small child in a shopping cart, parked temporarily near the breakfast foods. His eyes peeked out from under his blue and green striped winter hat and he locked his gaze with mine. He kept focused eye contact with me, craning his head to the side as his dad moved their cart further down the aisle away from my location by the oatmeal. But just before they turned the corner and we fully parted ways, his face broke into a toothy dimpled grin. I gave a little wave as he carted out of view.  Continue reading “Kristina’s Corner: Spring Thaw”

The Art and Importance of Celebrating

Written by Ellen Weber

A photo of Adrienne smiling while sitting in a chair on the left side. On the right, cans of pop, chocolate bars and kettle BBQ chips in celebration of Adrienne's birthday.
Our birthday celebration day for Adrienne at our CCV Staff meeting in May.

The work of being the public church in the neighborhood, of being a vital neighbor in the world, is the work of our lives. There is no graduation. It is a journey that always is and always was. We are called to show up with curiosity, humility and our full selves as neighbors. This work can be exhausting and feel never-ending. So we have learned the power in celebrating along the way. Celebrating the small ways we have been able to be transformed by being in relationship with our neighbors. It reminds us of the hope and the joy in this work. 

At the Center of Vocation we pause throughout the year at milestones throughout the year to reflect and share the joy of being in relationship with others doing this work. We love celebrating and sharing things that are happening in the work and outside of the work in our lives. We especially love celebrating through yummy treats! 

In the spirit of this season of celebrating, we wanted to share with you what we have been celebrating on our team:

Continue reading “The Art and Importance of Celebrating”

That’s a wrap! Final Two Vocation Chapels This Academic Year

Mark Hanson speaking at the podium in chapelIt has been a wonderful year full of stories from our community about how our staff and faculty have uncovered their own vocations throughout their lives. It truly has been an honor and blessing to listen to these stories. We are grateful for each one of them and for the campus ministry team for their willingness to try something new with us. We are looking forward to hearing more when we return to campus in the fall.

 

Watch our last two vocation chapels below from Dr. Ryan Haaland, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Rev. Mark Hanson, Interfaith Institute Fellow.


In case you are new or are unsure what vocation means. Vocation is a term we use a lot around Augsburg. It can be vague. It can mean different things to different people. It can feel elusive and slippery.

An attempt to explain vocation by Jeremy Myers: “You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.”


“Be Careful What You Wish For”

“Formative Disruptions”