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Kristina’s Corner: Spring Thaw

Series Description:

Kristina’s Corner is a collection of stories that come out of my own lived experiences as a neighbor in the Longfellow Community of South Minneapolis. They are stories of connection, stories of learning and stories of place. They come out of an effort – sometimes intentional but often accidental – to pay attention to the beauty, the pain and the complexity of our human experience, right here in this little corner of the universe I inhabit. Writing about these stories helps me deepen my roots in this place while also expanding my curiosity about what God is up to here and what that means for how I am called to show up and be a neighbor. In sharing these stories, I hope they invite the reader into a similar curiosity about God’s call to you, rooted in your place.


Spring Thaw

Written by Kristina Frugé 

A flyer on a light post that is of a painted white flower in a blue vase. Small moments can matter in big ways. I find this to be good news. Our days are filled with small moments, many of them pass by insignificantly. Sometimes though, we catch on to them. Sometimes, they give us a glimpse into something beyond ourselves – a truth, an idea, a comfort, a wake up call, an invitation…

I want to share a story about two small moments that collided into an important invitation for me. 

Moment One

Just a handful of months ago, spring was fighting its way through a long snowy winter here in South Minneapolis. As a lifelong Minnesotan, I know how to enjoy the winter season. But winter tends to outstay its hype in my opinion. People talk about the detrimental impacts of the lack of sunshine and vitamin D in the wintertime and its effect on people’s mental health. But the longevity of the cold encourages a lack of connection with other humans as well. This deficiency is also unhealthy I believe.  We lose some of our social ability in the winter, finding it easier to stay cloistered and quiet. And when we do go out in public, we have permission to stay hidden under layers of warm winter gear. It takes way more energy to make eye contact let alone engage in conversation with a passerby. At least, this is how it goes for me. 

I bundled up on a Saturday morning to pick up some groceries at the store. As I wandered up and down the aisles of produce, pasta and cereal, I was startled by a small child in a shopping cart, parked temporarily near the breakfast foods. His eyes peeked out from under his blue and green striped winter hat and he locked his gaze with mine. He kept focused eye contact with me, craning his head to the side as his dad moved their cart further down the aisle away from my location by the oatmeal. But just before they turned the corner and we fully parted ways, his face broke into a toothy dimpled grin. I gave a little wave as he carted out of view.  Continue reading “Kristina’s Corner: Spring Thaw”

The Art and Importance of Celebrating

Written by Ellen Weber

A photo of Adrienne smiling while sitting in a chair on the left side. On the right, cans of pop, chocolate bars and kettle BBQ chips in celebration of Adrienne's birthday.
Our birthday celebration day for Adrienne at our CCV Staff meeting in May.

The work of being the public church in the neighborhood, of being a vital neighbor in the world, is the work of our lives. There is no graduation. It is a journey that always is and always was. We are called to show up with curiosity, humility and our full selves as neighbors. This work can be exhausting and feel never-ending. So we have learned the power in celebrating along the way. Celebrating the small ways we have been able to be transformed by being in relationship with our neighbors. It reminds us of the hope and the joy in this work. 

At the Center of Vocation we pause throughout the year at milestones throughout the year to reflect and share the joy of being in relationship with others doing this work. We love celebrating and sharing things that are happening in the work and outside of the work in our lives. We especially love celebrating through yummy treats! 

In the spirit of this season of celebrating, we wanted to share with you what we have been celebrating on our team:

Continue reading “The Art and Importance of Celebrating”

You are invited to Groundswell: A Learning Summit

You are invited to Groundswell: A learning summit exploring the call to be neighbor

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 9:00am – 3:00pm at Augsburg University 

Co-hosted by Riverside Innovation Hub and MAS Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices

Over the past two years Minneapolis Area Synod’s Faith Practices & Neighboring Practices and Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub have shared a commitment to accompanying congregations as they discern their call to BE neighbor, rooted in their faith and open to the neighborhood. As the first learning cycle comes to an end and a new one begins, we are coming together to celebrate and learn from this groundswell of people engaged in what it means to be neighbor in the world. We’ll be joined by both congregations and individuals who are doing the work in neighborhoods all over Minnesota. 

On June 3rd, we will gather for a day to hear stories from near and far in a variety of mediums, participate in skill-centered interactive workshops for all types of leaders, and practice deep community building. We will be gathering folks that have a growing heart for their neighbor, are curious about who God is and what God is doing in the world and find themselves around people who are shedding some of their fears about taking risks and not afraid to fail. 

We invite you to join us as we continue to support and learn from each other on how we are called to be the public church in our neighborhoods! 

Registration will open on March 24th and will close on May 5th.

Childcare and Interpretation will be available upon request if indicated on registration form. 

Continue reading “You are invited to Groundswell: A Learning Summit”

Being A Vital Neighbor

Written by Kristina Frugé 

A few years ago we were gathered with a handful of local pastors at a coffee shop discussing this idea of being a public church. My co-worker Amanda and I were describing the posture of this work as one that shifts our attention from an internal one out towards the neighborhood, the larger context our congregations are located in. The rich imagination of the vision Ezekiel describes in ch. 47: 1-12 inspires this orientation. Ezekiel’s guide in the text points out how the water flows from the sanctuary out into the wilderness, bringing life and flourishing where-ever it goes; as it flows it gets deeper and wider until it is a river that cannot be crossed. 

Kristina Fruge by the edge of water bending down to pick up rocks. Water in the bible often connotes a never ending resource of life – God’s mercy flowing in abundance beyond our wildest imaginations. The invitation to become a public church is rooted in this vision as it begs us to take notice of what happens where God’s mercy flows and to get caught up in what God is up to in those places. God’s abundance can be contrasted with what often feels like a scarcity mindset when we are closed off from the outside world, mainly absorbed with our own worries and anxieties. However, God’s call urges us into the larger environment and relationship there. I hear this as good news to those of us in congregations where the temptation of a scarcity mindset is a daunting reality. 

Sitting in that coffee shop years ago, as we dwelled in the vision Ezekiel stoked up in our imaginations for being public churches, one pastor offered a helpful distinction. She pointed out that being a public church is about becoming a vital neighbor within the larger ecosystem of the neighborhood we are a part of. (Shout out to Pr. Brenda at Bethel Lutheran in South Minneapolis for that little gem!) There is lots of talk about vitality and thriving in the church world, but what God’s promises often point to is an understanding of vitality and thriving that is mutual. That flows beyond the sanctuary. That is for all. 

This is the arena of our wonderings and work in the Riverside Innovation Hub. Helping churches be vital neighbors is what we are about. It is also the way those of us on staff at RIH have been imagining our role with our neighbors. If you are reading this blog post, you are probably one of our neighbors! Our work and the resources we are able to leverage help us come alongside congregations and ministry leaders chasing after this work of being vital neighbors in our places. And so, as new seasons and new opportunities unfold for our work at RIH, we want to continue to explore how we can be vital neighbors to you – the larger ecosystem of church and ministry leaders doing this work on the ground in your many and varied places. 

This February, we have had a couple key opportunities to listen to our neighbors, paying attention to your joys, your heartaches, your longings, and your curiosities.  Continue reading “Being A Vital Neighbor”

“The Unleashed Voice” A Thought-Provoking Vlog by Geoffrey Gill

Our congregational facilitator, Geoffrey Gill, has been exploring his own vocation of vlogging. It is an honor to share on our CCV blog another inspirational video of his. It has been an opportunity to see through Geoffrey’s perspective of the world and how he inspires us to continue to show up as our authentic selves and to use our voice and actions to care for our neighbors around us in brave and powerful ways. Please enjoy!

A journey of self-discovery and empowerment! In my latest vlog, I delve into the impact of body language and the importance of being true to yourself. This thought-provoking vlog was inspired by MLK Day and will leave you feeling inspired to embrace your power, find your voice, and follow your heart. — Geoffrey Gill

Featuring: Pan African manager- Kezia Burrows, Drummer Spirit Boy, “Change Gonna Come” Traiveon Burrows

(In order of performance)

Poet: Curtis Love

Poet: LeeRayvone Gibson

Keynote speaker – Terrance Kwame-Ross

Thank you Augsburg University

PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers

As a way of teaching congregations how to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods, we introduce them to a method we call the Public Church Framework. This framework consists of four movements including accompaniment, interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. These movements bleed into one another and collectively are cyclical, or a spiral, in that they are never completed but rather lead to further and deeper practice of these movements. We like to think of this framework as descriptive of what we do when we are attentive to God and to our neighbor rather than prescriptive of some “one true way” to be in ministry. 

In the beginning of October, we gathered together as a learning community to explore the artform of proclamation. The RIH Learning Partners gathered in the chapel. But what is proclamation and why does it matter? 

There is a concept within the philosophy of language called performative utterances. This idea was developed by philosopher John L. Austin in the 1940’s and 1950’s . He was arguing against the notion that all words and statements are only descriptive or evaluative. He uncovered certain phrases and uses of words that are not intended to be descriptive at all, but are rather intended to be performative. A classic example he would use is the utterance, “’I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’ – as uttered when smashing the bottle against the stem.” Other examples would include, “I now pronounce you equal partners in marriage”, or “I forgive you.” These words and phrases are not describing or evaluating anything, rather they are doing things.

This idea of performative utterances helps us understand what we mean when we talk about the word of God. God’s words are performative utterances. They do things. In the first chapter of Genesis, God is not describing or evaluating what the cosmos has or will look like. Instead, God is calling the cosmos into being. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, NRSV). But the performative utterances of God do not only show up as spoken words throughout scripture. In the second creation narrative, God is not speaking a word – only acting. “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground . . . A river flows out of Eden to water the garden . . .” (Genesis 2:4b-6, 10, NRSV). There are times in scripture where God’s creative force is shared with the world through performative utterances, and there are times in scripture where God’s creative force is water.

Continue reading “PROCLAMATION AS PERFORMING JUBILEE by Jeremy Myers”

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”

“Shiloh goes into the unknown and…” A Vlog by Geo

 

Our very own Geoffrey Gill is a very talented videographer, so instead of a written blog post, he created a vlog sharing the story of one of our current learning partners, Shiloh Temple Brooklyn Park. We learn about their experience of accompaniment in Central Park. We hope you enjoy learning about their story and can watch a paradigm shift during their debrief discussion. 

 

Public Church Practices: Summer Neighborhood Prayer Walk

Outside. Sunshine. Gatherings in the backyard. Kids playing up and down the block. Time by the water. Schedules, full yet less scheduled. These describe summers in Minnesota to me. A time where more folks are out and engaging with each other while walking around the neighborhood. What could happen if we intentional went for a walk in our neighborhood paying attention to where joy was hanging out or where fear or anxiety was creeping in?

The Christensen Center for Vocation’s Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made local congregations who 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.

The practice of a neighborhood prayer walk is a spinoff of the  Ignatian Awareness Examen, a contemplative prayer exercise that guides you through an examination of your day as you prayerfully seek moments of desolation (sorrow, brokenness, fear, anxiety, etc.) and moments of consolation (hope, life, courage, healing, joy, etc.).

We invite you this summer to join us in prayer walks around your own neighborhood. You can use this same framework as you walk through the neighborhood in which your faith community is situated, asking God to show you the places of desolation and consolation in that neighborhood. The general outline of that activity is to practice this by walking through the neighborhood, paying particular attention to consolation and desolation. Then, together, with people in your faith community or neighborhood, reflect on what you saw, felt, sensed and heard and map the locations of those places of consolation and desolation on a shared map. Continue reading “Public Church Practices: Summer Neighborhood Prayer Walk”

Stewarding Work with Hope and Lament by Amanda Vetsch

 

It’s sometimes strange to be a young adult that cares deeply about the church. I have so much hope for the possibility of a church that embodies God’s promises, and I lament the way in which the church has created, sustained, and participates in harm. 

So many of my peers who might consider themselves “Christian” have discerned that the institutional church isn’t something that they are willing to invest their energy or resources into any longer. We have often experienced church as a community that doesn’t live out the things it claims to believe in. When we’ve sought out a community of belonging that nourishes us and compels us to live our lives for the sake of the neighbor, we oftentimes found instead a place that intentionally or unintentionally perpetuates harm and exclusion, a place that continues to sustain white supremacy as the status quo, a community that prioritizes the privileged, and tokenizes people perceived as “other.”

Background of water flowing over rocks from a river with text over it "There’s often a really loud narrative about decline, death, and dying... And in the conversation about young adults and church, it often feels like the anxiety around scarcity gets aimed at young adults, seeing them as people who could become new members, and help lessen their anxiety about impending death, they could help lower the average age, and increase the monthly giving. And that is objectifying. It turns wonderful, gifted, wise humans into a “butt and bucks” . I, and my young adult peers, are so much more than that, and we’re seeking so much more than that out of a faith community. ~Amanda Vetsch"There are definitely churches and communities that are practicing their beliefs, and are committed to dismantling the systems of oppression, and living into God’s promises. And yet there are so many more that so badly want people to join them, and haven’t quite figured out how to let go of a way of life that’s no longer serving them, and not in alignment with God’s vision. 

There’s often a really loud narrative about decline, death, and dying. This narrative is one that comes out of a scarcity mindset, rather than abundance. And in the conversation about young adults and church, it often feels like the anxiety around scarcity gets aimed at young adults, seeing them as people who could become new members, and help lessen their anxiety about impending death, they could help lower the average age, and increase the monthly giving. And that is objectifying. It turns wonderful, gifted, wise humans into a “butt and bucks” . I, and my young adult peers, are so much more than that, and we’re seeking so much more than that out of a faith community. 

Realistically, we’re not going to save the church, quite frankly many of us don’t want to. There are parts of the church that I think should die, especially the parts that are interwoven with white supremacy, and perpetuating an oppressive, harmful status quo. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity work alongside faith communities that are chasing after what it could look like to be part of God’s redemptive work in our world, here and now, and wondering about and practicing a way of life together that brings flourishing and life to everyone. Continue reading “Stewarding Work with Hope and Lament by Amanda Vetsch”