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Meet the 2021 Youth Theology Institute Mentors

Each year the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) hires a handful of college students to be leaders for the upcoming summer institute. With the goal of developing a campus wide student leadership culture, AYTI collaborated with other organizations on campus to develop an application, interview, and training process for students interested in working leadership positions on campus. This was such a powerful witness to the ways in which Augsburg’s mission is lived out in our community.

AYTI Mentors joined Orientation Leaders, Strommen Center Peer Advisors, AugSem Leaders, and more in a semester long class for credit that served as their leadership training for their job as AYTI Mentors. In this course all students worked to develop knowledge and skills utilizing the Social Change Model of Leadership Development. This model helps students understand their individual values (consciousness of self, congruence, and commitment), the values of the group (collaboration, common purpose, and controversy with civility), and societal and community values. The class training also focused on topics such as identity, intersectionality, anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy, brave space, disability as difference, and becoming interfaith allies. All students were able to complete the Intercultural Development Inventory and reflect on the ways in which they show up as leaders in all spaces and places.

AYTI Mentors will build on this leadership training to create and lead devotions, facilitate small groups, engage in learning sessions with participants, and help lead worship with high school students as they engage in theological exploration during the 2021 institute.

We are very much looking forward to this summer’s youth theology institute and the theme, “AND IT WAS VERY GOOD: Affirming and Advocating for Sexual and Gender Diversity in God’s Creation”. You can learn about the 2021 theme on our website here. In the meantime, join us in welcoming this year’s student leaders for the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute!


Mentor Carli

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

Carli Vincent (they/them/theirs) 1st year, Biochemistry major

What do you love about Augsburg?

The thing that I love most about Augsburg is that it is a small close-knit community in a big city. As someone who grew up in a small town, I really appreciate the smaller campus and class sizes while getting to reside in the heart of Minneapolis. Even after one year of primarily online classes I have been able to make connections with teachers and classmates. I have also been able to find a solid community of friends despite the pandemic.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I am super excited to be an AYTI mentor this summer because I am so jazzed about this year’s theme as it’s near and dear to my heart. I also attended AYTI as a participant when I was in high school, and it was super formative in my faith journey.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend a lot of my free time learning random skills, playing video games, camping, and spending time with my family and friends. I like to play music on the tuba, trumpet, guitar, or ukulele.

Favorite bible verse and why?

John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” This is my favorite bible verse because it’s the shortest verse in the bible and it’s one of the most powerful for me. Even though Jesus knew that Lazarus would live again he still felt the pain of losing a friend. This lets me know that even if I know something will work out, it’s okay to feel pain, anger, and or sadness in that moment.


Mentor Lorpu

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

My name is Lorpu Nueka Sum (she/her/hers), I am a first year student, my major is Computer Science.

What do you love about Augsburg?

Something that I love about Augsburg is how supportive the community is. The staff and teachers are always there whenever you need them. Coming to Augsburg is one of the

few best decisions that I have ever made in my life so far.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I am really excited about being an AYTI Mentor this summer. I am excited to meet new people and come together as a community to grow in our faith and build a positive bond.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Somethings that I like to do in my free time are: reading, long walks, biking, or listening to music. Sometimes I watch movies and sleep.

Favorite bible verse and why?

I honestly don’t have a favorite Bible verse, but growing up, I have always loved Psalm 23:1-6. I loved it because it is the longest bible verse that I can remember without opening the Bible, and it also gives me comfort when I am reading it.


Mentor Bre

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

Bre Roseman (she/her/hers), 3rd year Junior, Management Information Systems doubled with Economics

What do you love about Augsburg?

I love that the Augsburg community is diverse in cultures. I also liked that the school is small, so it’s easier to get to classes and that there aren’t a ton of people here and that the class sizes are super small compared to other schools.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I’m excited to be a mentor this year because I want to help other individuals find where they fit in the bible and even learn to trust the church again. I want others to know that just because they had a bad experience with church doesn’t mean all churches are that way.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I like painting, drawing, reading, and singing. I also enjoy doing more spiritual things like tarot readings for my friends too.

Favorite bible verse and why?

My favorite bible verse would be Psalm 31: 3-5 because it reminds that even in the dark times when it seems like everything is against you, you can run to the Lord, for they will protect you.


Mentor Aaron

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

Aaron Puent (he/him/his), Sophomore, Religion major

What do you love about Augsburg?

The entire reason I came to Augsburg is because I wanted a small, close knit community.  Add the big city around us, and I feel like there are no limits as to what I can do.  The campus is easy to navigate, and it doesn’t take too long to get from place to place.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I am excited to get to know how other people live their own faiths, especially in the different forms of worship.  I also think this is an important theme for people to discuss, and working through this with fellow students should prove to add to my own theological understanding.

What do you like to do in your free time?

If it is nice outside, you can be sure to find me out running or playing tennis (but I love all racquet sports and will never turn down a challenge at ping pong).  I enjoy hiking and biking as well.  On a rainy day, I like to do some creative writing or crossword puzzles.

Favorite bible verse and why?

One of the most important Bible verses to me is John 13:34, in which Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so that you also should love one another.”  This can be found in other places in the Bible, but I find it central to my personal theology.  Jesus showed love to people regardless of their actions and personalities because they were people created in God’s image.  Therefore, I should do the same.


Mentor Grace

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

Grace Porter (she/her/hers), 4th year, Theology and Public Leadership with a concentration in Youth Studies, Minor in Music

What do you love about Augsburg?

I love so many things about Augsburg, but the main thing is that it feels like home and that everyone feels like family. I was really able to find my place doing the things that I love, and it was so amazing to find people who also loved those things! I have also created personal relationships with faculty and staff, they are people who are welcoming and loving and are wanting to know you on a personal level.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I am excited to be an AYTI Mentor for my third year because I love AYTI! I love learning and growing in relationship with the many amazing young people who attend, they are so passionate and have a need for this community, just like I did. I love being apart of a program that encourages young people to follow their passions, and teaches them that they are important right now, even though they may feel insignificant.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

In my free time I like to spend time outside and with the people that I love. That has been tough during COVID, so I also watched a lot of Netflix and did a lot of crafting and coloring during my time inside. I also love music, and spend a lot of time with my voice, and guitar, ukulele, or piano!

Favorite bible verse and why?

My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at the break of day.” I even have it tattooed on my arm! This verse reminds me that no matter what I am going through in my life, God is always within me, giving me strength when I feel like I have nothing left to give.


Mentor Renee

Name, Pronouns, Year at Augsburg, Major/Minor

Hello! My name is Renee Christensen (she/her/hers). I am finishing up my 2nd year at Augsburg, double majoring in Clinical Psychology and Theology and Public Leadership, which is a really long way of saying I’m incredibly passionate about mental illness and religion!

What do you love about Augsburg?

There are SO many things that I love about Augsburg. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I really saw and experienced how the Augsburg community came together. We found ways to connect. The professors were so lenient as we all figured out this new world that was our college experience. I mentioned this earlier, but I also LOVE the community that has been built at Augsburg. The faculty, staff, professors, and students make this community feel like home.

Why are you excited to be an AYTI Mentor?

I was a 2018 participant at AYTI and it’s actually the reason I came to Augsburg! I am SO excited to be a mentor this year because I love seeing young people grow and develop into who they are. My experience at AYTI as a participant really shaped my life and my faith. I hope that I can be a part of someone’s journey as they discover who they are.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

In my free time, I love spending time outdoors, spending time with my family, reading, singing, and cuddling with my cats! When I’m not at Augsburg, you’ll most likely find me curled up with my cats and a good book!

Favorite bible verse and why?

My favorite bible verse changes day to day! However, my all time favorite would have to be Joshua 1:9 “ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. The Lord, your God is with you”. I find strength in this verse because it’s a great reminder that even if you feel alone, God is walking beside you. It’s definitely not easy, at times it feels impossible, but this verse is a great reminder for me.

Join Us This Summer


Harking Up the Wrong Tree

Abraham Bloemaert (Manner of) – Announcement to the shepherds c.1600

Angels sing “Hark!”, or at least the herald ones do. The church’s problem is that we’re singing Hark! in all the wrong places. We’re harking up the wrong tree. And Christmas is the best time for Dad Jokes.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ (Luke 2:8-20)

These shepherds living in the fields were considered too unclean for worship in the temple. They were considered lowly peasants for sure, but their profession was also part of the problem. The religious structures of the time made it impossible for them enter God’s house.

So, it’s a pretty big deal when these lowly, dirty shepherds are the first to hear the announcement of Christ’s birth. These angels are harking up the RIGHT tree. When God makes Godself public and moves into the neighborhood, God wants the shepherds to be the first to know. The shepherds – the ones not allowed in the temple – are the first ones invited to God’s new home.

The distance between the temple and those living in the fields is only getting greater. The chasm between the church and those who are systemically cast out is only getting wider. The pandemics of COVID, systemic racism, and economic strife are felt intensely by so many right now. There are multitudes living in the fields this winter in our communities. God crosses the threshold into the lives of these who are living in the fields. The angels’ Hark! is for those living in the fields.

The good news for those of us hanging out at the temple harking up the wrong tree is that this good news of great joy is for all people (verse 10). It’s as if God knows the privileged ones will hoard the good news of great joy for themselves if they receive it first. And it will never find its way to the fields. But, this good news of great joy will truly be for ALL people if it is the lowly ones receive it first.

The Christmas story is a story of God becoming public, becoming incarnate, moving into the neighborhood. It is a story of this good news of great joy being made known publicly. We no longer need to hark up the wrong tree. The journey into to the fields with our neighbor is a journey to which we are called. When you arrive you will encounter your neighbor and the good news of great joy they share with you will leave you speechless. Your only word will be Hark!

May the incarnate Christ meet you where you are this Advent and Christmas – in the fields or in the temple – and draw you into that good news of great joy that offers the kind of hope that turns our world upside down.


Minneapolis Encampment. Photo by David Joles, Star Tribune

Public Leadership Scholar Opportunity for 2020-21

3 previous scholars with Christensen Symposium speaker

Apply to be in one of Augsburg’s three Public Leadership Scholar Programs:

Christensen Scholars – student leaders who are interested in engaging in an academic and theological exploration of vocation. New in 2020, the Christensen Scholars will engage with big questions of faith and vocation both in seminars and also through paid internships with faith-based organizations.

Interfaith Scholars –  student leaders who are interested in exploring the religious diversity of the Augsburg student body, the wider Twin Cities community, and the United States through interreligious dialogue and action. We invite religious believers from a variety of traditions as well as the non-religious to apply in order to converse respectfully with other about what you believe, why it matters, and how it propels us to action in the world.

Sabo Scholars – student leaders who have interest in engaging in civic life, studying the political process, working on public policy, and exploring careers in public service.

In these programs you will:

  • Participate in a yearlong academic seminar on Thursday nights with a cohort of your peers
  • Contribute to public leadership on campus and in the wider community in either the Christian tradition, interfaith engagement, or civic life.
  • Earn 4 upper division semester credits in the Religion or Political Science
  • Receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Who is Eligible?

  • Christensen Scholars & Interfaith Scholars – Current sophomores and juniors who plan to study on campus all of the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Sabo Scholars – Current students (any level) who plan to study on campus all of the 2020-21 academic year.

How to apply

  1. Submit the public leadership school application, indicating the program(s) for which you wish to be considered.    Public Leadership Scholars Application
  2. Request a letter of recommendation from a faculty or staff member who knows you well    Faculty or Staff Recommendation

What is the Deadline?

The application deadline has been extended to Thursday, March 12, 2020.


Contact either

Introducing Renee – AYTI Ambassador

Photo of Renee Christensen smiling.Hi! My name is Renee Christensen, and I am from Shafer, MN. I am a first year at Augsburg University, planning to double major in Clinical Psychology and Theology and Public Leadership. I was an AYTI participant in 2018 and fell in love with Augsburg! What I like most about Augsburg is the community that we have here on campus. The amazing and supportive staff and students have made this community feel like home. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to be surrounded with each day! I am currently involved with Riverside Singers and Student Ministries. When I’m home, you’ll usually find me curled up with a good book, being outdoors, or snuggling with my cats. I am so grateful for this opportunity and excited to see where it takes me!

2020 Vocation Internship Opportunity

Explore Vocation while Working with a Community-oriented faith-Based nonprofit or congregation

5 images of different students

Current Augsburg Students:

  • Looking for a meaningful work experience for spring semester 2020?
  • Are you curious about how you are called to serve your neighbors?
  • Wondering about how your talents, skills, preferences, and passions can inform your career decision making?
  • Do you have initiative and want to spend time learning and intentionally reflecting on experiences with others?

If yes to all of these, we invite you to apply to be a Christensen Vocation Intern.



  • Paid Internship at a faith-based nonprofit or community-oriented congregation
  • Gain relevant work experience and mentoring
  • Reflect on experiences and assessments with a cohort of your peers
  • Duration: 8-10 hours/week, PAID internship for up to 100 hours during Spring 2020 semester
  • Current students from all majors and faith backgrounds are welcome to apply. Each site’s job description can be somewhat customized to the intern’s education and goals.

Potential Engagement/Focus Areas:

  • Community organizing
  • Youth and young adults
  • Assisting people experiencing homelessness
  • Interfaith dialogue and learning
  • Environmental justice
  • Anti-racism training/work
  • Multi-media Storytelling 
  • Public art
  • Community meal

Apply through Handshake, Augsburg’s student employment platform.

Questions about the application platform? Ask the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work,
Questions about the application process or positions? Ask the Christensen Center for Vocation, or 612-330-1403

NOTE: Priority application deadline is November 13. Then applications will be accepted on rolling basis as the positions are still available.

The Christensen Vocation Interns will be selected based on initiative and strong interest in exploring vocational discernment with a faith-based organization partner site, as well as the potential match with the available partner sites’ engagement opportunities and needs.

Meet Lonna

Lonna Field head shot Lonna Field serves as Program Associate for the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) at Augsburg University. Part of her role includes co-directing the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, leading the Christensen Vocation Intern program, and supporting other programmatic and assessment development. In the 2019-20 academic year, as the CCV transitions to a new vision and structure, Lonna is specifically helping manage and steward the transition of various programming. This includes continuing to support interfaith initiatives during the launching of the Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership.

Lonna has worked at Augsburg University since 2009 with roles through the Lilly Grant, Campus Ministry, the Center for Faith and Learning, and now the CCV. Throughout these 10+ years, she has been deeply impacted through the opportunity to learn, share, and live out Augsburg’s mission with so many unique students, colleagues, and partners.

Lonna’s professional experience has revolved around education and youth development, previously serving as Youth Director and Education Coordinator at Redeemer Center for Life and as a Mentor Coordinator with the Boys and Girls Club at Little Earth of United Tribes. Lonna earned a Master of Arts in Leadership from Augsburg University and a BA from Wartburg College in Elementary Education and Mathematics. A native Iowan, Lonna found a love for the city—especially North Minneapolis!—through her experience in Lutheran Volunteer Corps. 

Beyond Augsburg, you can often find Lonna running, baking, organizing or volunteering at community-oriented events, making music with the Capri Big Band, or playing in various volleyball, kickball, or softball leagues. Lonna enjoys spending quality time with family, friends, and church community, and she is a proud auntie and godmother to family members in Kentucky and Florida. 

Spring Vocation Lunch with Paul Pribbenow

Augsburg Faculty and Staff, the Division of Mission invites you to attend the spring vocation lunch:

called to be a post-modern missionary

with Paul C. Pribbenow, Augsburg University President

Tuesday, April 7
12:15 p.m, – 1:25 p.m.
East Commons, Christensen Center

NOTE: This event has been postponed until Fall 2020.

Paul Pribbenow photo

Paul Pribbenow, the 10th president of Augsburg University. Since joining Augsburg in 2006, Pribbenow has enhanced the university’s role as an active community partner in its urban setting. By identifying and embracing initiatives that mutually benefit Augsburg and its neighbors, the university has achieved national recognition for its excellence in service learning and experiential education. President Pribbenow also has become a leader among the 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA, helping to articulate the gifts shaping and supporting Lutheran higher education in the 21st century.

Under his leadership, Augsburg has changed its name from Augsburg College to Augsburg University, recognizing its expansive academic mission serving undergraduate and graduate students on campus and at locations around the world. Augsburg’s Board of Regents was awarded the 2017 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership for efforts including initiating an inclusive, five-year strategic planning effort and leading the institution’s largest-ever capital campaign. President Pribbenow played a key role in Augsburg’s most successful capital campaign, which raised more than $55 million to construct the Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, which opened January 2018. To read more, please visit


President Pribbenow holds a bachelor’s degree (1978) from Luther College (Iowa) and a master’s degree (1979) and doctorate (1993) in social ethics from the University of Chicago. He received the Distinguished Service Award at Luther College in 2008.


The Mission and Identity Vocation Lunch is an event that strengthens the concept of vocation at Augsburg for faculty and staff by providing role models from within the community to share a presentation on their sense of call and life journey.

Fall Vocation Lunch with Katie Clark

Augsburg Faculty and Staff, the Division of Mission invites you to attend the fall vocation lunch:

Who Gives You Light? 

with Katie Clark, Assistant Professor and Director of Augsburg Central Health Commons

Friday, November 22, 2019
11:15 a.m, – 12:25 p.m.
East Commons, Christensen Center

Katie Clark with her husband and 3 children

Kathleen ‘Katie’ Clark has been teaching in the Department of Nursing since 2009 and serves as the Director of the Augsburg Central Health Commons (ACHC). Her teaching focuses on issues of social justice, health inequities, and civic engagement.  During her time in the department, Katie has designed various courses in an immersion format that allows students to gain insight first-hand from people living in the margins while learning skills of transcultural nursing as well as teaching in more traditional formats.  In 2011, in partnership with two other local non-profits, Katie launched the Health Commons in Cedar-Riverside. Before coming to Augsburg, Katie worked for eight years as a nurse at University of Minnesota Medical Center – East Bank in both oncology hematology and the medical intensive care unit.  She has traveled to 20 different countries and participated in many local volunteer programs, such as the Bridge for Youth and Higher Ground. Currently, Katie lives with her husband and three children in the town of Stillwater.


  • D.N.P. in Transcultural Leadership: Augsburg University (2014)
  • M.A.N. with a Transcultural Nursing Emphasis: Augsburg University (2010)
  • B.S.N: University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire (2002)

Please note: Guests are also invited (but not required) to bring a donation of socks or other items to the Health Commons as part of this event. Learn more about items needed (or consider making an online donation) at

The Mission and Identity Vocation Lunch is an event that strengthens the concept of vocation at Augsburg for faculty and staff by providing role models from within the community to share a presentation on their sense of call and life journey.

Introducing our 2019-20 AYTI Ambassador, Grace P

Photo of Grace P sitting at a table laughing

Hi! My name is Grace Porter (pronouns She/Her/Hers), and I am a second year studying Theology and Public Leadership with a concentration in Youth Studies and a Minor in Music here at Augsburg University. It sounds like a lot but it really just means that I love working with kids, my faith, and music! Speaking of my faith, I am currently a student deacon working with Student Ministries on campus and using my love of music in choir and in the campus a cappella group, Convocadence! You might recognize me as mentor Gracie from AYTI 2019; fun fact, I was also a participant in AYTI 2017! If you can’t tell, I love this program, and Augsburg University. I also love musical theater and exploring new places, and I am the annoyingly positive person who can get up with the sun 🙂

Photo of Grace P standing on a bench outside Photo of Grace P standing outside with skyscrapers in the background

2019 Christensen Symposium

Headshot photos of Dr. Hamdy and Bishop Younan next to presentation title "Suffering and Hope in the Midst of Conflict"Thursday, October 3
11 AM – 12 PM
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center


  • Hamdy El-Sawaf, founder and psychotherapist at the Family Counseling Center and imam of Masjid Al-Iman in Minneapolis
  • Munib Younan, retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and former president of the Lutheran World Federation

Hamdy El-Sawaf and Munib Younan will share personal experiences and their religious faith perspectives on hope, reconciliation, and resiliency in the midst of suffering and struggles that often are intensified by religious convictions and differences.

About the Christensen Symposium:

Each year, the Christensen Symposium provides the opportunity to explore and apply the lessons rooted in former Augsburg President Bernhard M. Christensen’s legacy:

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

The 2019 Christensen Symposium is co-sponsored by the Christensen Center for Vocation and the newly created Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership.

Note: This session may be audio recorded. If you would like to be alerted as soon as the audio is available, please email

For requests related to accommodations at the Symposium, email or call 612-330-1104.