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Mentors for the 2022 Youth Theology Institute

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.

2022 AYTI Mentors being goofy!
2022 AYTI Mentors being goofy!

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!

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2022 Youth Theology Institute Theme and Instructor

The Christensen Center for Vocation is proud to present the 2022 Augsburg Youth Theology Institute. After two years of virtual programming, we are looking forward to returning to in-person programming on campus at Augsburg University. We will continue to follow recommended guidelines for health and safety and will welcome a new group of high school participants to reside on campus for this year’s institute. We are delighted to welcome two Augsburg University professors as co-instructors this year to lead the institute participants in theological exploration through a college classroom experience as well as experiential learning in the community. Participants will be led by college mentors who will engage small group learning and relationship building through daily devotions and experiential learning. Together we will worship together with guest liturgists and musicians from the Twin Cities and explore the neighborhood as we seek to understand how God is calling us to [reconnect] and live in unity.


Sunday, June 26th – Friday, July 1st, 2022


God’s People [re]connect!

participants at youth theology institute

We believe God invites people to live together in unity, a beloved community. As we emerge from two years of change and uncertainty, we invite participants to ask big questions about connection and disconnection.

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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.

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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.

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


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.



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.

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RIH Cohort Gatherings

In between the large group learning events, the Riverside Innovation Hub learning community gathers in smaller cohorts. Both the large group events and the smaller cohort meetings are focused on the art forms of the Public Church Framework. Each the three cohorts are made up of four congregational teams, a mentor, and an RIH staff Facilitator.

zoom meeting and coffee
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

All of the cohorts are meeting during the month of December to check-in and reflect on their experiences practicing Accompaniment. The RIH team gathers in advance of the meetings to brainstorm their meeting outline, align their plan with the larger learning outcomes, and share facilitation ideas. Each cohort meeting is uniquely designed by the facilitator to fit their facilitating style and the experiences and preferences of the cohort members.

The purposes of the December cohort meeting are to continue to build relational trust within the cohort and grow in confidence and clarity about next steps for accompaniment. Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework, it’s the movement into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ story. Prior to the cohort meeting, everyone was invited to practice the artform of accompaniment, specifically through a a relational one-to-one meeting with someone in their church’s neighborhood.

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RIH Celebration Banquet

Recently, a small group of participants from the first Riverside Innovation Hub learning community gathered for a celebratory banquet to officially mark the end of the three year learning experience. After the last year and half of meeting virtually, it was so delightful to gather in-person with those that were able to attend. Our time together was shaped by text of Ezekiel 47: 1 – 12, especially verse twelve, “Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” We shared stories of celebration, transformation, and gratitude.

Social Time & Celebrations

Upon arrival, people were invited to write things they wanted to celebrate for themselves, their faith community, their team, their neighborhood, and young adults on printouts of leaves and fruit. We celebrated persistence, relationships, our neighbors, ice cream, community, stories, strong connection during the pandemic, new connections and nurtured relationships, new friendships, curiosity, leadership, vaccines, and much more.
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Humility & Confession in the Public Square

Kristina Fruge, Managing Director of CCV, writes about the importance of confession and humility when doing the work of being a public church. 

A neighbor-oriented call

The work of the Riverside Innovation Hub has been guided by an orientation towards the neighbor. This is both an invitation to pay attention in the neighborhood and a plea to be open to disruption we might encounter outside the comforts of our familiar surroundings. 

This neighbor-oriented way of living, when embodied by a Christian congregation, becomes a public church. As churches and as individuals, this call to be public, to encounter our neighbor, leads us into the public square. This is not a neutral place to be. It is filled with other humans, each with their own story, their own struggle, their own world view. It is shaped by systems and structures, which more often than not, have shaped conditions in the world that stray far from God’s intentions for creation. There is beauty and destruction. There are signs of life and threats to life. The public square holds potential and heartache. 

Image of George Floyd square with a memorial of flowers and people gatheredOur neighborhoods have been shaped by violent and dishonest histories – ones that have regularly privileged some groups of people at the expense of others. Entering the public square challenges us to make a choice.

Will we show up and participate in the dominant and dominating histories still at play in our neighborhoods? Or will we show up to participate in an alternative way, a way that seeds peace, truth and healing? A way that requires confession and humility? 

These questions take on a greater responsibility if you are someone who lives with any kind of privileged identity around race, gender, able-bodiedness, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. These hierarchies, shaping our communities since long ago, continue to cause harm today. If we enter the public square ignorant of these harmful realities, we risk showing up in ways that perpetuate the lies and violence of our country’s past and present. 

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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”