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.
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.
The Riverside Innovation Hub, an initiative of the Christensen Center for Vocation, is launching a new learning community! We are excited to partner and learn alongside of these eleven faith communities that are located throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Check out the map and list below to learn more about our new congregational learning partners. We’re looking forward to accompanying these churches over the next two years as we focus on being and becoming Public Church.
Today’s post comes from Pastor Liesl Spitz. She served as Intern Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Congregation from 2017 to 2019 and is currently one of the pastors at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in St. Paul.
I stop by Domino’s on my way to church. It’s Friday night at 9pm. When I get there I meet one of our young adults, and we walk to the corner of Cedar and Riverside. A plastic table is already set up with a kettle of tea and a warming bag to hold the pizzas. Just cheese, no meat, Abdi told us when we offered to bring them. It’s what the guys prefer.
Abdi Mukhtar is the founder of Daryeel Youth. Daryeel means “care” in Somali. Each Friday night, even in the coldest winter, Abdi shares chai tea and pizza with young men in our neighborhood who are most vulnerable to drug use and violence. Weekend nights at the corner of Cedar and Riverside is where Abdi had seen the most harm. So weekend nights at that corner is where he sets up.
Today’s blog post comes from Marie Page at Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights. She shares the story of the learnings and transformation their community has experienced by being a learning partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub.
This blog is the second in a series of stories of transformation from our congregational learning partners. We hope these stories illustrate the larger story of our project as we promote another learning partnership opportunity.
When we first started conversations with Riverside Innovation Hub, we could hardly have imagined the depth and variety of challenges that would face our congregation and our society in these past few years; but the insights and collaborative support we received through our partnership could not have come at a better time.
In the initial stages of the process, the public church framework offered clarity and a healthy challenge as we discerned where the Spirit was calling us. Their early enthusiasm was additional confirmation that our desire for a regenerative reset of our relationship with the land itself was an idea that could catch imagination and spark passion with many. Church “as we’ve always done it,” we sensed, was increasingly failing to satisfy the hunger of our members and community. With the support of our RIH partners, we began our multi-year permaculture project.
Today’s post comes from Stephen Richards at St. Luke’s and James Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. He shares the story of the learnings and transformation their community has experienced by being a learning partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub. Steve has previously shared some of the story of their journey through a video on our blog.
This blog marks the beginning of a series of stories of transformation from our congregational learning partners, which illustrate the larger story of our project and learning partnerships as we begin to promote another learning partnership opportunity.
I’ve been asked to respond to the question, How has your faith community experienced transformation as a partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub? I feel that any response to this question requires a two-part answer. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the work at St Luke’s was building momentum. We had a clear plan and goals for how we were continuing and expanding our work and partnership with RIH. PeaceCraft, the initiative that evolved from this, was very integrated into our faith community. The public church framework was becoming our lingua franca, or common language. Then COVID hit and it felt like everything came to a screeching halt.
At first, there was a felt sense of grief and lament. We’d lost so much and initially struggled to find our way to next-steps. However, the public church framework of listening, discerning, and applying what we had learned helped us rise up from the ashes.
Despite not being able to enter a physical building during the time of COVID, it feels we have been spiritually resourced by RIH to find ways to connect with God and others outside of it. In fact, it has become very natural to turn our attention out and towards others. For example, when a homeless encampment appeared around Lake Nokomis in summer 2020, some members of our community supported and worked with local groups who were providing food and resources for families. They felt that this work and our mission values inter-connected. I immediately recognized the public church framework playing out. This work was also immediately validated by our church as an expression of authentic Christian faith.
Elsewhere in 2020, we were approached by the community of St James on the Parkway with an invitation to consolidate. I felt this process was also facilitated by the open and inquisitive work we had done with RIH. For instance, rather than focus on differences we looked for points of connection; in line with the public church framework. This work of consolidation eventually led to the creation of a new faith community of St Luke’s and St James. It is noteworthy that one of the reasons the St James community was initially drawn to consolidate with us, was because they were excited by the work we had been doing with RIH.
Finally, and as we look to COVID restrictions being lifted, we feel our new community is once again being drawn into the work of accompaniment, interpretation, and discernment. We’ve become curious. We are wrestling with the tension of programming vs innovation. Where it seems we have become too focused on programming, there is a restlessness and desire to turn our attention outside. We are finding ourselves existing in the thin-space between balancing the needs of the faith community and those of the neighborhood. We are also willing to ask why we are doing things. We are not rubber-stamping the old ways. In one sense, our partnership with RIH has led us to the idea that the work we do is never truly done, and also not necessarily measured by definite outcomes. Instead, we celebrate what has gone before and remain open to new movements of the Spirit amongst us.