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Uncovering the Mystery: Campus Ministry Fall Theme

Written by Hannah Sackett, our Campus Ministry Pastoral Intern. Hannah has previously worked with CCV through a local congregation involvement in our Riverside Innovation Hub. We are excited to have her on campus this next year. Find out more about Hannah here

The school year has begun at Augsburg University! The buildings are abuzz with energy and life, and there is a general sense of newness as the community navigates what it looks like to be together again in these days. Much of what the school year may hold remains undiscovered and unknown; full of possibilities, but also perhaps tinged with some new-year-nerves. As the new pastoral intern on campus, I can relate! 

 

The campus ministry team at the block party outside Foss. This fall, the theme in Campus Ministry is “Uncovering the Mystery”, a theme that in itself allows space for multiple meanings: holding space for Scripture, learning from one another in community, and practicing listening deeply, to name a few. But it also encourages us to explore some big questions together. Does something need to be uncovered in our lives in order to live into God’s call more fully? How might we make space for new wisdom to take root, to reveal what has felt hidden? Will something about our vocation be made clearer to us this year? Maybe sitting in mystery together can allow for new understandings, as well as a comfort with the unknown. 

 

For a period of time, I worked as a canoe guide in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. And during canoe trips, I was often eager to know my exact route, know where each portage trail began and ended, to know how things would unfold. Oftentimes, though, the geographical twists and turns on the lakes in real life were not as easy to navigate as they were on the birdseye view from a map. Commonly, in fact, you couldn’t really see a portage entrance until it was right in front of you – and it was definitely easier and more enjoyable to do with other group members. Over time, I became more comfortable with the phrase we often used, “Know as you go”. And while it’s not always easy, it felt like a life lesson that applied to more than just canoe trips. What can feel like a mystery is often revealed if we draw closer to it and pay attention together. 

 

Students with Pastor Babette at the Block partyThe theme of “Uncovering the Mystery” similarly invites us to come closer and sit together in life and faith’s countless question marks, in the hope that new understanding and new life is just around the corner, waiting to be revealed. We’re so happy to welcome students back to campus this fall, and welcome all to come be a part of all that’s going on in campus ministries! 

 

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”

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”

Interview with Adjunct Religion Instructor and Author: Chris Stedman

Quote from The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjery Williams

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Reconnection 

As we sink deeper into our June theme of RECONNECTION, we are excited to share the great privilege we have at Augsburg University to stay connected with incredible people like Chris Stedman (he/him/his). Chris is a 2008 graduate from Augsburg and is now a writer, activist, and professor who currently teaches in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. 

chrisstedman
Picture of author Chris Stedman

He is also the creator, writer, and host of Unread, named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by the Guardian, Vulture, HuffPost, Mashable, and the CBC. Additionally, Chris is the author of IRL (2020) and Faitheist (2012) and has written popular essays for outlets including the Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, VICE, and the Washington Post. Previously the founding director of the Yale Humanist Community, he also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a trainer and content developer for Interfaith Youth Core, he has most recently served as an Interfaith Fellow with the Interfaith at Augsburg center. 

In Chris’ most recent book, “IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives” – which will be coming out in a new edition this August – we are invited to get curious about what it means to have connected lives both in real time and online. For so long, online sharing was seen as shallow and disconnected from truth and honesty. Chris invites readers into the possibility that we can find connection in those spaces and that through that experience we might experience fuller reconnection in our real lives. 

We caught up with Chris and asked him a few questions about his book and the concept of reconnection. Thanks so much Chris for sharing your wisdom and insight.

Interview with Chris

WHAT DO THE IDEAS CONNECTION & RECONNECTION MEAN TO YOU? 

We’ve spent the last few years navigating what has been, for most of us, an entirely unfamiliar landscape when it comes to connection, disconnection, and reconnection. 

In the early days of the pandemic, for example, I was working from home and living alone, so for the first time in my life all of my interactions were digitally mediated. Though I’m probably more online than the average person, it’s impossible to overstate what an immense shift this was. It gave me more of an appreciation for the internet’s ability to connect us in unprecedented ways, but also of its limitations, and our need to not only connect but also disconnect.

Even before the pandemic arrived, we lived in an age of constant connection, where we spend more and more time on digital platforms designed to monopolize our attention. Because of this, we have to be intentional about taking a step back from them sometimes—not because life online is inherently fake or inherently harmful, as some argue, but because we need the kind of perspective we can only get when we’re alone.

Continue reading “Interview with Adjunct Religion Instructor and Author: Chris Stedman”

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”

Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action

The following contribution is shared by Dr. Mary Lowe, religion professor at Augsburg and member of the task force and writing team for the ELCA’s new congregational study guide to accompany the ELCA’s social statement, Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action.

The ELCA’s 2019 social statement, Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action provides a powerful framework for gender justice work in the church. “Because we rely on God as a God of promise, this church speaks about sexism and the harm it causes for all people,” says the statement in its introduction. “Those who support gender justice are intent on righting gender-based wrongs that prevent the abundant and flourishing life God intends.”

Cover Image of "Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action stude guide"This historic document draws on the richness of the Lutheran theological tradition. Four primary themes are woven throughout the statement. God desires abundant life for all. Sin subverts human flourishing in many ways—especially the sins of sexism and patriarchy. The Christian tradition holds challenges and resources for resisting sexism. And the ELCA calls for justice and action to foster flourishing in the church and in society.

You can read the full statement here.

Now a new ELCA study guide makes the 80-page document more accessible for individuals, congregations, students, organizations, and faith leaders as they pursue equity for women and girls. It features six flexible sessions that can be customized for in-person gatherings, virtual discussions, or interactive virtual meetings. Each session incorporates hymns, prayers, videos, engaging activities, and invitations to live out the social statement’s call to gender justice in the world.

You can access the study guide for Faith, Sexism, and Justice in the button below.

Study Guide for Faith, Sexism, and Justice

Continue reading “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action”

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”