Making new connections and building on those relationships can be really exciting but also really scary. I got the opportunity to make new connections with high school youth at the 2023 Augsburg Youth Theology Institute: The Confluence! This program was filled with connections between our story, God’s story and The World’s story. We learned about our own spiritual gifts, practiced vocational discernment and heard stories from the neighbors in our community. Many memories, laughs, smiles, and even cries were shared. All of these things influenced why I chose to be a mentor this year. Having these connections with people who come from all over is a really important part of who we are. We get to hear each other’s stories, learn from them and grow because of them.
This weeklong program had a lot to offer to young people. However, as this week progressed there were some challenges that arose for us mentors. “Having the energy, the patience, and the positive attitude around the participants was the most challenging part” (A 2023 Mentor). But not only were there challenges, there were exciting moments. A fellow mentor said, “It was exciting to see the participants interact with guest pastors, speakers and teachers. Their curiosity was so inspiring and fun to watch.” As mentors, we realized that it was truly amazing to get to know each other and all the participants. We were able to create a relationship with everyone at this program. By having our own small groups, we got to know and understand participants at a deeper level spiritually and we were able to help each other grow in our faith”. Continue reading “The Confluence 2023 Mentor Experience”→
One of the ways the Christensen Center for Vocation is engaging in vocational discernment with students is through the hiring and training of college mentors as facilitators for the annual Augsburg Youth Theology Institute. Mentors spend the spring semester discerning their own God given gifts, practicing small group facilitation, digging into theological texts with curiosity for how they might give us some insight into the questions we have about how to show up as neighbors in our own neighborhoods, churches, schools, and communities.
This year’s mentors are engaged, curious, and determined to create a community of belonging for our participants. And that means focusing on their own development. They are practicing leading prayer, asking questions, developing their strengths, understanding their spiritual gifts, and digging into texts. Stay tuned for our upcoming social media introductions and highlights from the end of the month training retreat – follow up on Facebook or Instagram to learn more!
Do you know high school students who would benefit from an experience like this?
The CONFLUENCE is an experience that empowers young people to be curious about how their personal story, the world’s story, and God’s story flow together to create a loving and just world. In June of each year, we invite high school students to spend a week living on campus with our college mentors, building relationships and getting to know one another, exploring theology and discerning vocation through experiential learning opportunities. Our hope is for them to gain deeper insight into who they are and the life they want to live as children of God. This learning happens through many forms: academic inquiry in the classroom, community engaged learning, a variety of worship styles and spiritual practices.
College mentors play an important role as facilitator and guide for the high school participants throughout the week as everyone leans into opportunities for vocational discernment.
Each year for the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, daily themes are chosen that are grounded in a biblical text. During the months of training and preparation for the Institute, the college mentors engage in theological reflection as a team and dig deeper into the biblical texts together. Through their leadership development with staff and the Institute chaplain, they read, plan, write, and eventually lead daily devotions for participants using these verses. The following themes and verses are now this year’s devotions.
Thank you to Pastor John Schwehn and Pastoral Intern Tori Remer for their guidance and support as mentors prepared to write these devotions. The hours of conversation, prayer, theological reflection, and support that were given throughout the process is gratefully appreciated. We are proud of our college mentors and their work this spring.
AYTI offers these themes and devotions for use by our partners. All credit should be given to the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute when using this material. Thank you.
MISSION OF AYTI
The Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) inspires emerging high school theologians to observe, interpret, and engage their world through Christ for the sake of their neighbor. Our participants learn how to reflect theologically on culture and find meaningful ways to respond to the call from God that happens in this process of reflection.
To achieve this, we provide an intense, one-week residential experience with a new theme every year. Students read theological texts and experience a college classroom, participate in worship, explore diverse community-based learning, and have intentional small group conversations led by college mentors. Following their week on campus, students write a theological paper on the theme and their paper is published in a journal to be shared with congregations and the wider community. www.augsburg.edu/ayti
One gift we have each year at the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI), is hiring current college students to train and lead as mentors during our annual summer institute. These students come to AYTI with energy and gifts for serving young people who are curious about how God is working in their lives and the world. These leaders spend the spring semester developing skills for small group facilitation, studying and researching biblical stories to prepare to lead a daily devotion with our participants, and honing their leadership skills to provide a safe and welcoming place for the high school participants during the institute.
We are excited to introduce to you the 2022 AYTI Mentors. They are such a fun group and we know the high school participants are going to enjoy spending the week of AYTI with them!
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.
Anything about your hometown or where you’re from that you want to share: Farmington, MN. Yes there are farms and the high school football team plays for the Tractor Trophy every year.
What you are most excited about for AYTI: I am super excited to find new ways to dive into theology virtually and also make meaningful intentional connections virtually. It will be hard work but I am so excited for it.
Favorite place you’ve been: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Hi! My name is Ian Heseltine, I use he, him, his pronouns. I’m a third year at Augsburg graduating in the spring of 2021. I’m a double major in Religion and Music Business. My hometown is Alexandria, MN, two hours west of the metro area. This will be my third summer as a mentor for AYTI and I can’t wait to connect with all the students this summer, especially in this strange time we’re living through. AYTI is always a highlight of my summer because I get to connect with highschoolers and also show them how great Augsburg is. Over winter break I went on an Augsburg Study Abroad trip to London, England & Edinburgh, Scotland. That trip has been my all time favorite, and was the first time I had ever been overseas. We spent a large amount of time talking about Harry Potter which is one of my favorites so the trip made a lasting impact on me!
Hi, my name is Grace Koch Muchahary, I am originally from Northeast, India. I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree at Augsburg University. Currently, I am a Sophomore going to be Junior next year, and I will be graduating in 2022. I am majoring in Sociology and planning on minoring in Gender-Sexuality and Women’s studies. The reason I got this beautiful opportunity to study in the United States is because I received a scholarship from ELCA, IWL(International Women Leadership) program. Before coming to Augsburg, I could never have dreamed of getting to engage with so many different communities here around me. One of my favorite experiences and community is this program AYTI (Augsburg Youth Theology Institute). I couldn’t stop myself from being a part of AYTI again this summer. I love this program, and this year I am hoping to see new activities, new learning and especially to meet new amazing people. My favorite place I have been so far would be Chicago, and Iowa (because it is peaceful).
Favorite Bible Verse: John 14:14: Jesus says, If you ask anything in my name I will do it.
My Name is Elizabeth Hoversten but I go by Lizzy and use the pronouns she, her, hers. I am from a little rural town called Viroqua located around the lowest pinky knuckle of Wisconsin. At Augsburg, I am Majoring in Communication Studies and Minoring in Business Administration with the end goal of goodness knows what. I am very excited to be returning to AYTI for the 3rd time, second as a mentor. It is incredible getting to watch these youth gather from across the states to explore how their faith can influence their leadership. My favorite place I’ve been has been a mountain road outside of Yellowstone, my family and I drove it at dusk about four years ago and it was awe striking. Unfortunately, I do not have a favorite Bible verse but I do have a least favorite book of the Bible so I will lead with that. My least favorite book of the Bible is the book of Job, let’s talk about it some time.