Bing tracking

COVID-19: Updates and Plans ›

EZEKIEL AND THE PUBLIC CHURCH: EVERYTHING WILL LIVE WHERE THE RIVER GOES

by Ellen Weber and Jeremy Myers

Throughout this summer as we have gathered folks together around our work, the text from Ezekiel 47 continues to be a way to ground us before we begin. As our work shifts, taking time to remember these words re-grounds us in why public church matters through Ezekiel’s vision of God’s abundance.

Ezekiel’s Vision (Ezekiel 47:1–12, NRSV)

Individual stepping in water that is flowing by the side of a half-wall by the riverside. 1 Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

3 Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. 5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7 As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. 8 He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. 9 Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

Ezekiel’s vision becomes an invitation to follow God’s jubilee as it flows into the world and and makes everything live where it flows. The Public Church Framework (below) provides faith communities with a way to do this, to become blessings for the entire land on which they are rooted rather than existing to serve their own purpose. We are Ezekiel, following the enigmatic divine tour guide along the river as we learn to see the breadth and depth of God’s love flowing away from the temple and into the world. Continue reading “EZEKIEL AND THE PUBLIC CHURCH: EVERYTHING WILL LIVE WHERE THE RIVER GOES”

The Artform of Discernment

cycle of public church framework

In Discernment, the third artform of the Public Church Framework, we move into the space between our neighbors’ stories, God’s story, and our story. In this movement we learn how to listen for who God is calling us to be and what God is calling us to do in light of the present reality and God’s promises.

Why is it important? 

Discernment is important because our neighbors’ realities matter, our realities matter, and because we believe God has something to say about all of this. God is actively and continually trying to teach us how to live an abundant life together. 

The opportunities to practice discernment are abundant, ongoing, and mundane. Without intentionally, the moments of discernment might appear as simple decision making.  Many people desire to live their lives with more intentionality: to make informed decisions about how they show up in community, how they steward their resources, how they participate in their families, neighborhoods, and societies. etc. We believe God calls us into a thriving, abundant life together and we believe God has uniquely gifted us and called each of us to participate in bringing that abundance into a lived reality for our neighbors. Discernment teaches us to be attentive to and responsive to that call and that good work.

What is it?

Discernment is a communal process of listening to God’s spirit for the next most faithful step forward. 

It is a prayerful, communal practice of critically seeking to determine how to respond to opportunities God has placed before us. It is different from decision making. It involves an intentional process that includes listening to three threads: God’s Spirit, the neighbors’ reality, or demands, and your reality. These three threads have been the stories and themes that have emerged from practicing Accompaniment and Interpretation. Discernment is the movement where we take stock of what’s emerged and what we’re being called towards. Which must include a realistic assessment of our own realities. What gifts do we bring? What limitations do we have? Continue reading “The Artform of Discernment”

Little Things are Big Things by Ellen Weber

This winter was long. April felt like an extended March. There is a whole lot of beauty in the winter and the cold can be hard on our bodies. In the midst of the cold, snow and rain, the last week of April if one paid attention, the green began to emerge. The tulips that I planted last fall began to sprout and I could see bursts of green in the mixture ofTulip leaves sprouting up from the brown ground. brown surrounding my house. I woke up to birds chirping out my window and watched squirrels dig up their nuts for nourishment that they had planted last fall. 

I am an amateur gardener who definitely has lots to learn, but continues to show up in March to plant my own seeds knowing that not all of them will survive. During this Easter season of new life and resurrection, I am trying to pay extra attention to what around me needs nourishing. Which seedlings need water, sunlight, more space or coffee grounds added to the soil? When my tomato seedlings grow too leggy, I adapt by replanting them so the stems are fully supported and the plant can focus on rooting down to allow it to rise up. When my broccoli seedlings are too leggy, after googling why that might be, I realize that they are too warm.  In response, I make a shift so that they are no longer under the humidity dome. Each seedling needs something different in order to grow and eventually bear fruit.   Continue reading “Little Things are Big Things by Ellen Weber”

How to Be a Good Listener: Advice from RIH Mentors

screenshot of 15 person zoom conversation

One thing that is unique to our current Riverside Innovation Hub learning community is the opportunity to learn from people who have experienced this learning process before.  In March, we hosted a panel conversation where six leaders, who were previously involved in the Riverside Innovation Hub, shared their wisdom, stories, and experiences of practicing Accompaniment in their neighborhoods with our current learning community. The panelists included Sheila Foster, Claire Kaiser, Lacy Tooker-Kirkevold, John Pedersen, Kaylie Johnson and Pr. Jen Rome. This first blog, of a three-part series, recaps some of the wisdom and practical next steps they shared. 

If you’re a current member of our learning community, you can also find a recording of the entire conversation on our Google Site.  


Question and Answer:

The first question posed  to the panel was about listening; Do you have any great ideas on how to be a better listener? How do you stay in “listening mode” without jumping to “solution mode”?

Pastor Jen Rome kicked off the conversation by sharing that her team had a hard time getting started. Like many people, they felt unsure about striking up a conversation with a stranger in the neighborhood. They found they had an easier time having the conversations when they were scheduled in advance. They made a list of people or organizations they wanted to connect with in and around the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, and picked who would talk to each person or organization. Then each person reached out to schedule a one to one conversation. A few examples of people they talked with included people on the neighborhood council, the staff at the park next door, and owners of the local businesses. They held each other accountable by reflecting on what they heard from their one to ones at their next team meeting. She also said they kept practicing listening as a skill in other contexts. As they continued to listen in the neighborhood, they were also listening to each other more intentionally at their own meetings and in the other spaces they found themselves in. 

streeview of the exterior of pilgrim lutheran churchKaylie said that her congregation didn’t necessarily struggle with getting started, but they did find themselves wanting to jump toward solutions. After their team had done some listening in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, they met as a team to share what they heard. As they were sharing with each other, they found themselves wanting to jump towards coming up with solutions. They realized they needed to check each other on that, and say, “no we’re listening right now, no solution, no answers. It’s okay to sit in the discomfort of not knowing what’s going to happen.” It’s often difficult to hear someone’s bad news and receive it without suggesting solutions or coming up with ways to fix what we perceive as problems. Their team learned how to listen to the bad news without immediately jumping into action plans, or offering solutions that may have come from assumptions about the neighbor, rather than a deep knowing of the neighbor. Kaylie remarked that learning how to do that is “part of the process, and part of being a good listener.” 

Continue reading “How to Be a Good Listener: Advice from RIH Mentors”

Our Indianapolis Adventure: Beginning A New Chapter

Earlier this week members from our CCV team, Amanda Vetsch, Kristina Fruge, Jeremy Myers and Ellen Weber, gathered in Indianapolis for three days with colleagues from across the country as we are entering a new chapter of a grant we recently received from the Lilly Endowment.

Three different images of Amanda Vetsch, Kristina Fruge, Jeremy Meyers and Ellen Weber together in Indy. The first on the top left is at the airport by the Indy sign. The top right is at dinner together and bottom image is outside at the conference soaking up the sunshine.
Top left image is at the Indy airport. Top right is at dinner on Sunday night. Bottom image is our CCV Team outside of the conference soaking up some sunshine.

You can read more about this particular grant hereThese colleagues include folks from 11 other seminaries and universities who received a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2017 that was part of Lilly’s inaugural Young Adult Initiative. After experimenting and learning for the past five years together in contexts across the country, we gathered to launch another five-year commitment to steward the evolving work emerging from partnerships with congregations, young adults and neighborhoods.  We explored together where we have been, where we are going, how we have been changed and how we can continue to build connections with each other in this work around vocation and what it means to be called by God to this work. 

The Riverside Innovation Hub at Augsburg will be focusing on how we support the spiritual lives of young adults through a multi-layered initiative centering young adult voices. There are many parts that will be life giving that will emerge in the months and years to come, but a couple in particular are gaining our attention and excitement.  Continue reading “Our Indianapolis Adventure: Beginning A New Chapter”

The Artform of Interpretation


cycle of public church framework In the second artform of the Public Church Framework, Interpretation, we move into listening to God’s story and we spend time articulating our faith community’s core biblical and theological commitments. 
We reflect on how our theological commitments shape the way we hear our neighbor’s story, and how our neighbor’s story shapes our theological commitments. 

How do we do it?

We’ve categorized interpretation into four different layers:

  1. Identify the most important things we heard in accompaniment.
  2. Identify our most important theological themes.
  3. Connect what we heard in accompaniment with theological themes that are similar.
  4. Ask ourselves how these theological themes help us understand what we heard in accompaniment and vice versa.

This blog post will focus on steps one and two, identifying the key themes from accompaniment and identifying the theological themes of our faith community.

Continue reading “The Artform of Interpretation”

Accompaniment is Who We Are (you got this!)

We are entering the season of Epiphany. This is the time in the church year when we celebrate the revelation, or epiphany, of Jesus to the nations. It is a celebration of the gift of Jesus becoming public and known to all. How might your congregation live into this spirit of Epiphany, seeking to celebrate the presence of Jesus in the public squares of our lives?

A local congregation’s ability to celebrate the presence of Jesus in the public square hinges on its ability to practice accompaniment with their neighbors. Although it might seem like a simple thing, it has actually proven to be incredibly intimidating. 

We have seen many leaders and congregations struggle to initiate and sustain this practice of accompaniment beyond their church walls. There are many reasons why this happens. 

  • It’s scary to move into spaces and relationships that are new and unknown to us. 
  • It’s counterintuitive to encounter someone with the sole purpose of getting to know them rather than actively gaining something from them (i.e., a commitment to visit or join the church, information about what they want from the church, etc.). 
  • It feels unnatural because we don’t want to come across as pushy or too aggressive. 
  • It’s time consuming and none of us have extra time to do this intensive and slow work.
  • It seems overwhelming and we don’t know where to start.

Accompaniment can be intimidating, but it has never been more necessary.

Continue reading “Accompaniment is Who We Are (you got this!)”

Fruit For Food and Leaves for Healing: A Faith for the Sake of the World [Video Collection]

THE FALL 2021 CENTERED LIFE SERIES

The following videos are recordings from a four-week Centered Life series which was hosted by Jack Fortin, Senior Fellow of the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University.

Fruit For Food and Leaves for Healing: A Faith for the Sake of the World

In the 47th chapter of the book of Ezekiel, we encounter a divine tour guide showing Ezekiel around the temple. There is water flowing from the temple towards the wilderness. It grows deeper and wider the further it flows from the temple. Eventually, this water – God’s abundant mercy – brings life to trees of all kinds who produce fruit for food and leaves for healing. In the following video series, Jeremy Myers and Kristina Frugé guide you through the Christensen Center for Vocation’s Public Church Framework as a method for discerning personal and communal vocation in your particular locations as we all seek to produce the food and the healing our neighbors need.

 

VIDEOS

The Church’s Call into the Public Square

An introduction to the theological and theoretical reasons why we – as a church and as individuals – must show up in the public square for the sake of the common good, recorded on Wednesday, November 3rd.

Continue reading “Fruit For Food and Leaves for Healing: A Faith for the Sake of the World [Video Collection]”

The Artform of Accompaniment

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.

This following blog post shares some resources to practice accompaniment in your context. To read more about why we practice accompaniment, read this blog: “Accompaniment It’s Who We Are (You Got This!)”

We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four layers, or four different practices to hear the neighbors’ stories: demographic data, neighborhood prayer walk, listening posts, and one to ones. 

Practices of Accompaniment

clip art of graphs and tables on a computDemographic Data

Demographic data helps tell the story of your neighborhood. Demographic Data can help you know more about the
challenges our neighbors face — and the assets that are available in a community. A pitfall to avoid when learning about demographic data is the assumption that knowing
about the neighborhood is the same and knowing the neighbors. 

clip art of person walkingNeighborhood Prayer Walk

The practice of a neighborhood prayer walk is a prayer exercise that invites you to walk through the neighborhood with particular attention to 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.

clip art of earListening Posts

Listening posts are places in the neighborhood where people gather to hear and share stories. Some examples of listening posts include soup lunches, local schools, neighborhood businesses, parking lots, local bars, neighborhood association meetings, open mic nights, bike shops, libraries, rivers and parks, neighborhood gardens.

clip art of two conversation bubblesOne to One Relational Meeting

A one to one is an intentional, curiosity-driven conversation with someone you want to know, or get to know more deeply.  The primary purpose of a one to one conversation is to build or deepen relationships.

Public Church Practices: One to One Relational Meeting

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene the congregations and then invite them to practice the artforms of the Public Church Framework in their contexts.

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 layers, or four different practices to hear the neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the fourth layer of accompaniment, a relational one to one.

two people talking on an outdoor bench

A One to One Relational Meeting

What is a One to One?

A one to one is an intentional, curiosity-driven conversation with someone you want to know, or get to know more deeply.  The primary purpose of a one to one conversation is to build or deepen relationships. Some of the secondary purposes of a one to one include, uncovering their interests and values, gathering information, and more clarity about themselves. Continue reading “Public Church Practices: One to One Relational Meeting”