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Accompaniment: The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

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 different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the second layer of accompaniment, a prayer walks in the neighborhood. 

You can also read more about the previous layer in our last blog post – Becoming familiar with the Demographics of your neighborhood

Accompaniment layer pyramid. The order from the top to the bottom are demographic data, prayer walk, listening posts and one to ones. Often congregations may begin at the top of the triangle and work down as a pathway to getting to know the neighbor. However, notice the proportions of each of the layers match the amount of time folks are encouraged to spend with each aspect. Demographic information begins to help us get to know things about our neighbors and may spark curiosity around things we want to learn more about, but to really get to know our neighbors, one to one conversations are at the heart of building real relationships.


The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood

Written by Kristina Frugé 

The practice of a neighborhood prayer walk is inspired by the  Ignatian Awareness Examen, a contemplative prayer exercise that guides you through an examination of your day as you prayerfully seek 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.

You can use the lens of desolation and consolation as you walk through the neighborhood in which your faith community is located, asking God to show you the places of desolation and consolation in that neighborhood. The general outline of this activity includes walking through the neighborhood, paying particular attention to what stands out as consolation and desolation. Then, together, with people in your faith community, reflect on what you saw, felt, sensed and heard and map the locations of those places of consolation and desolation on a shared map. You will find some simple instructions at the end of this post to help you plan for a prayer walk. However, while this activity is fairly straightforward, there are some important aspects to be aware of as you begin.

In all of our efforts to become vital neighbors, we will find ourselves encountering people and places we don’t know or don’t know very well. We will encounter differences between ourselves and others – whether it be racially, religiously, socio-economically, generationally, or across so many other distinctions. We also expect to experience connection as we discover similarities – love of the same local business, or our pets, or our children, or perhaps share similar fears or longings for ourselves and our neighborhoods.  Continue reading “Accompaniment: The Prayer Walk in the Neighborhood”

Becoming Familiar with the Demographics of Your Neighborhood

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

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 different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the first layer of accompaniment, the Demographics of the Neighborhood. 


Introduction

Written by Jeremy Myers

Kristina's neighborhood street with snow in the evening as the sun is settingSummary and Learning Outcomes

This lesson is intended to help individuals and/ or teams gather the demographic data of their particular neighborhoods and begin reflecting on that data in order to gain more insight into those who live in that particular neighborhood. Completing this lesson should help you:

  1. be able to find and collect the demographic data of those who live within a particular neighborhood.
  2. know more about the people who live their lives within this particular neighborhood.
  3. develop a deeper sense of empathy for these neighbors and become curious about how you might get to know them better.

Preparation

  1. Use “Preparing to Lead the Lesson Plan” to help you complete these following steps in preparation for leading this lesson.
  2. Read “What is Accompaniment?” and “Why Demographics?”.
  3. Generate your Demographic Report and familiarize yourself with it.
  4. Gather the following materials below. 

Materials

Continue reading “Becoming Familiar with the Demographics of Your Neighborhood”

A Much Needed Reminder

Shared by Ellen Weber

At a recent vocation chapel, our speaker shared this blessing as an opening reading. It was lovely and a much needed reminder. 

May we continue to show up true to who we are. 

May we remember that the small ordinary moments are worth blessing. 

That the small things that you do every day matter. 

That we each are worthy of love and no resolution will make us more worthy. 

May it inspire us to continue to work together towards justice, not to earn worthiness, but because we understand that we are in this life together. That we are called by our faith to show up as neighbor with an open heart and open arms reminding those that they matter and demanding that the world see it too. 

A New Year’s Blessing for realists by Nadia Bolz-Weber. 

As you enter this new year, as you pack away the Christmas decorations and get out your stretchy pants, Continue reading “A Much Needed Reminder”

We Meet Again! A Recap of the Second Writers’ Retreat

Amanda Vetsch, book project coordinator, shares an update on the young adult book project.

The group of writers outside in the sunshine posing for a group photo. The Young Adult Book Project has surpassed another mile marker in our project! Our author team gathered for a second Writers’ Retreat at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center last month. This gathering marks the completion of mile marker #5! We’re just over a year out from The Threshold Envisioning event, where about fifty young adults gathered to share our joys, heartaches, hopes and dreams for the church and the book chapter themes were distilled from those stories and experiences. Since then, we selected a young adult author and a thought leader author to co-write each chapter. We gathered those authors in March at the first Writers’ Retreat to create a shared vision for the book and start the co-writing process. Two authors have had to discern out of this project due to needing to prioritize their time and energy on health and recovery. As people come and go from this project – we give our deep gratitude for the contributions along the way. Their departures created space to invite two new authors in.  Each set of authors has navigated the highs and lows of the writing process, defined and redefined their expectations of each other, and wrestled with their busy schedules to write and revise first and second drafts of their chapters.

The purpose of this second Writers’ retreat was to move into the “Craft Phase” of the book.  Rick Rubin describes the creative process as four phases: Seed, Experimentation, Craft, and Editing & Completion. The “Craft Phase” moves from generating possibilities and ideas into refining material with a clearer sense of direction and structure. For this project that means both the individual chapters and the larger book are beginning to take clearer shape and more cohesive structure. We accomplished this at the retreat by developing a shared larger vision of the overall book, large group discussion and decision making for cohesiveness across chapters, and co-author work time.  Continue reading “We Meet Again! A Recap of the Second Writers’ Retreat”

Transforming From Within: Reflections from Cohorts

A drop of water in a lake or river rippling out. Ducks and an eagle are in the horizon along with the sun set. Trees are red and brown along the sides. Geoffrey’s Reflection

Peace friends,

So far, in our shared journey of faith and community, an essential truth emerged: real change begins within. As Lauryn Hill insightfully puts it, “How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” This feels like it resonates as a deep undercurrent with our congregations’. .

We’re on a mission, not just to extend our sacred influence into the neighborhood but to first cultivate it within our own teams. It’s a process of aligning our hearts and minds, ensuring our internal compass is set towards genuine humanity.

This isn’t just about strategy; it’s about soul-searching. We’re engaging deeply with each other, understanding that to truly touch our neighborhood, we must first be united and aligned in our purpose and vision.

As we undertake this internal journey, we’re igniting a transformation that extends beyond our walls. We’re becoming the change we want to see, equipped to be sacred spaces in our neighborhood’s story, whether it’s filled with joy or echoes with grief.

This path we’re embarking on is and will be progressively challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. As we align within, our capacity to impact our neighborhoods grows exponentially. We’re not just changing – we’re evolving, ready to make a real ripple in the world around us.


Brenna’s Reflection

October brought the first of many cohort meetings for this round of the Riverside Innovation Hub journey. We met at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bloomington, sharing in the rich history and context of their space. We heard their team members tell stories of teen lock-ins and Sunday school classes held in the room where we met from multiple generations in the past to today. Over the next year, each of our congregations will get a chance to host a cohort meeting in their space so that we can all get a taste of their place and story as we build relationships together. Continue reading “Transforming From Within: Reflections from Cohorts”

The Journey Begins…

Written by Brenna Zeimet

Overhead view of the chapel space with 3 people on the stage for a panel and the audience at round tables. On September 16th church leaders from across the country gathered in person and via zoom to embark on a two year journey towards becoming vital neighbors in their communities. Riverside Innovation Hub launched three cohorts of churches, two of them composed of local congregations from the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area, and one distance cohort that will meet online with congregations from Oregon, Massachusetts, and rural Minnesota. We’re inspiring the flourishing of our neighbors from coast to coast!

Cohort participants got the opportunity to learn from our own Jeremy Myers about the Art of Becoming Public Church; diving deep into the cultural impacts of postmodernism, church outreach models, and what our neighbors want and need from us in our post-pandemic world. Jeremy helped our congregations think through what the public church framework is and why it is important to engage our neighbors in a different way than the Church has before.

Next our congregations explored their “why” with the help of our program director, Kristina Fruge. She walked through what it means to engage in “place based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good”, and then invited congregations to talk about their own places and the common good they long to work for in their particular public squares. Congregations also heard from each of our staff members about our own personal “why” that drives us to do this work of investing in our neighbors and building relationships for the flourishing of others. Over lunch, cohorts talked with each other about their personal “why” and began to build relationships with the co-laborers that will walk beside them on this journey. Continue reading “The Journey Begins…”

Saying Yes Because of This Truth: Project Reflection by Amar Peterman

Amar HeadshotIf you have not heard yet, we are writing a book! The purpose of this book project is to amplify the voices of young adults as they articulate their hopes, dreams, concerns, and frustrations to the church. This is not a book about young adults. Nor is this a book about how to attract young adults back to church. Rather, it is a book that offers the wisdom of young adults to the church as it discerns its next most faithful steps in these emerging times. Check out our author team here.

We recently asked the young adult writers for the project to reflect on this experience. Below is the reflection from Amar D. Peterman.

Amar D. Peterman (M.Div., Princeton Seminary) is an award-winning author and constructive theologian working at the intersection of faith and public life. His writing and research have been featured in Christianity Today, Faithfully Magazine, Fathom, The Berkeley Forum,, The Anxious Bench, Sojourners and The Christian Century. Amar is the founder of Scholarship for Religion and Society LLC, a research and consulting firm working with some of the leading philanthropic and civic institutions, religious organizations, and faith leaders in America today. Amar also serves as Program Manager at Interfaith America where he oversees programs related to emerging leaders, American evangelicalism, and Asian America. He writes regularly through his newsletter, “This Common Life.” You can learn more about him at amarpeterman.com. Amar’s co-author is Nicholas Tangen.


Why did you say yes to this experience and what are your hopes for the project? 

Written by Amar Peterman

Writing is always shaped by the people around us and the places we are located in. The best writing embraces this, capturing every moment as an opportunity to tell a story or find meaning in the ordinary moments of our life. Writing that reflects these daily experiences and infuses such with sacred meaning holds the opportunity to change us—even convict us—and as we are called into a community beyond ourselves. 

I said yes to this experience because of this truth. Through this project, I am not only brought into conversation with other writers across the country, but into active participation towards a shared goal. As we gather to envision a hopeful future for the Christian church, we are diligently writing and marking out tangible steps to create equitable spaces of inclusion and belonging for young people in local congregations across the United States. Together, we represent a diversity of experiences, locations, denominations, and beliefs within Christianity. These differences, though, are not a hindrance to our cooperation; they are gifts that allow this project to speak to more people than any individual could do on their own.  Continue reading “Saying Yes Because of This Truth: Project Reflection by Amar Peterman”

The Journey of Forming Learning Communities with New Congregations

Written by Geoffrey Gill

a seedling emerging from the soil with the sunshine shining in the background.This year has been a remarkable journey as I’ve engaged with new congregations, forming fresh learning communities. What makes it even more special is the contrast to the previous year when many of these structures were already in place. Now, I find myself in the unique position of shaping the very fabric of our community.

Meeting and getting to know these congregations has been a profound joy. Many resonate with the importance of being active neighbors and are receptive to reimagining their role within the broader church and community. This eagerness for transformation shines through, and it fills me with hope.

A recent podcast touched on grounding ourselves in the present to experience the fullness of God’s presence. In that sacred space, we tap into wisdom and the fruits of the spirit. This message resonated deeply with me, mirroring the longing I perceive in our congregations to evolve, build bridges, and courageously traverse them.

However, the journey isn’t without its challenges. The weighty topics of racial healing, restoration, and confronting prejudice can be difficult. These conversations can sometimes be met with resistance or unease. Yet, the silver lining is the willingness of many to delve into these issues, recognizing their gravity.

A central belief that guides me is that we are combating deep-seated evils that exist beyond mere human conflicts. This battle requires divine guidance and an inward transformation. The biblical message, “the truth shall make you free,” resonates here. True liberation comes from an internal shift, a spiritual renewal.

Much of our work is about showing up, being present, and immersing ourselves in the transformative power of the spirit. Through art forms, we have a medium to interpret the spirit’s movements, allowing for inward transformation. This is an ineffable process, one that’s difficult to articulate. But once clarity emerges, we are called to act, share, and continue the cycle of reflection and action.

In connecting with these congregations, I’ve been moved by their willingness to venture into the unknown, confront their perceptions, and reimagine their worldviews. Despite initial discomfort, there’s an evident zeal and anticipation for the journey ahead.

Introducing Our New Congregational Facilitator: Brenna Zeimet

Brenna's headshotWe are so excited to introduce our new CCV staff member with you all, Brenna Zeimet! 

Brenna joined the Riverside Innovation Hub in June of 2023 as a RIH Congregational Facilitator. She will journey with congregations as they discern their vocational path to loving their neighbors as a vital partner in the community where God has called them. She will facilitate cohorts of church leaders, helping them build a network of support amongst each other to empower the work they are doing for the flourishing of humanity and the common good. Continue reading “Introducing Our New Congregational Facilitator: Brenna Zeimet”

The Art of Building Relationships: Reflections on Establishing New Congregations

Written by Lead Facilitator, Geoffrey Gill

Embarking on new relationships can be a thrilling yet unnerving venture. A whirlwind of questions swirl around in the caverns of my mind: Will they appreciate my eccentricities, or will they view them as a red flag? What if they find me lacking in some way? These daunting thoughts threaten to consume me, yet in a moment of clarity, I understand what truly lies at the heart of this journey – the stories.

a typewriter with the words "the beginning.." zoomed in onAt the inception of each relationship, there lies a narrative waiting to be unfolded. Each person carries with them a unique anthology of experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. These individual stories form the intricate web of human connections, fostering empathy and understanding as we delve deeper into the pages of each other’s lives.

The sacred spaces we create for these stories to flourish is where relationships truly take root. Spaces where judgment is silenced, where authenticity thrives, and where our inhibitions can be set free. In these spaces, we can dare to expose our vulnerabilities, and in the process, foster connections that hold the potential to transform not just us as individuals, but our neighborhoods as well.

As I stand at the precipice of forging new bonds, I embrace the nervous anticipation that accompanies the start of this narrative journey. I may not know what lies ahead, but I have faith in the power of our shared stories. In this space, I can shed my anxieties, leave the apprehension behind, and simply dive into the fascinating world of interconnected lives, one story at a time.

As we venture forth into this process of establishing new congregations, it’s not just about the end result. It’s about the journey, the shared experiences, and most importantly, it’s about every story that weaves us closer together.

The beginning of new relationships is indeed a bit scary, but it’s also incredibly exciting. Because in this journey, we don’t just empower congregations; we build narratives, communities, and ultimately, we build each other.”