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Steve Peacock is Leading Augsburg into the Public Square for the Sake of our Neighbors

Written by Jeremy Myers

This blog post is the first of many that will showcase the various ways we see vocation lived out on a daily basis in the lives and work of our Augsburg colleagues and our neighbors in the Cedar-Riverside and Seward neighborhoods.

By vocation we mean the ways we are compelled, empowered, challenged, freed, and responsible to show up (individually and collectively) in ways that help our neighbors and neighborhoods thrive. We believe every individual and every institution experiences a vocational tug.

Augsburg University – as an institution – is committed to being an engaged neighbor with the Cedar-Riverside, Seward, and Phillips neighborhoods. Many would say this has always been central to Augsburg’s mission and identity, but our practices and frameworks for showing up as a compassionate and helpful neighbor have changed over time. This change is a necessity if one is truly committed to working towards the common good with their neighbors.

This is a story about how Augsburg does the work of becoming and being an engaged neighbor.


Headshot of Steve PeacockSteve Peacock joined Augsburg University in 2008 as the University’s Community Relations Director. Steve had spent the previous 17 years working for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) helping people and neighborhoods thrive by creating partnerships to “close systemic gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity.” Steve feels a strong call to do work that supports people at the neighborhood level. He has formal training in urban planning through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the University of Minnesota. 

This call, though, was shaped early on as the son of a campus pastor in central Illinois. Steve saw his father consistently working at the intersections of the university, the church, and the neighborhood. He learned first-hand about the positive impact local institutions can have on the lives of the people who share their neighborhood. Steve’s own personal call to do this bridging work has helped Augsburg University live more fully into our own call to be an engaged neighbor.

 

Augsburg University president, Paul Pribbenow, claims Augsburg’s identity as an anchor institution in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and we now play a key role in convening the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership. “Anchor institutions are enduring organizations that are rooted in their localities. It is difficult for them to leave their surroundings even in the midst of substantial capital flight.” Augsburg is deeply committed to the location and neighborhood where we find ourselves and we believe we have a responsibility to function in a certain way as an institution so that our neighbors and our neighborhood might thrive. Steve’s work puts this commitment into practice.

 

Through this work, Steve convenes the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Leadership Forum which is a community of business owners and leaders from the neighborhood who meet regularly to learn about one another’s work, discuss shared hopes and concerns, and create opportunities for collaboration. Steve sees his primary work as convener. These are gifts and committed leaders who don’t need Steve or Augsburg to lead for them, but they do need someone who is willing and able to convene other potential stakeholders and partners.

  Continue reading “Steve Peacock is Leading Augsburg into the Public Square for the Sake of our Neighbors”

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers Reflection

Saturday, December 17th

Advent Vespers Reflection by Kristina Frugé

Isaiah 7:13-15

Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

Isaiah’s words are to King Ahaz in Jerusalem. Ahaz is a ruler who neglects God and makes idolatrous choices that gravely endanger his people. Isaiah utters these words to him from within the context of an unstable time – the powerful take as they desire, the poor become pawns of the wealthy, threats of violence persist from outside nations, there is a loss of faith in God and distrust of one another, injustice rules the day. Sound familiar?

Despite the dire circumstances…the seed of God’s promise is given. In our Christian story this seed is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Immanuel. God With Us. It is a bold promise to speak into corrupt and oppressive realities. Jesus’ time, like Isaiah’s, and like ours, was deeply troubled. Yet none of this deters the promise of God from entering the world. Not in Isaiah’s time, not in Jesus’ time, and not in ours either.

The promise is for Immanuel. God with us. All of us.

May this seed take root in our bodies, our neighborhoods and all of creation.

May we embrace and participate in the new life this promise offers.

 

 

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers

Thursday, December 15

Advent Vespers Reflection by Sarah Runck ’24

Romans 15:3-6 [MSG]

Jesus didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

This translation of Romans comes from the Message bible. I love how it dives into a deeper explanation of this text. It prompted me to reflect on things in my life that correspond with this verse.

First – the therapeutic nature of music. I am a third year music therapy major which means that I am building my life around the virtue of placing myself near the troubles of others. My profession is built around caring for others more than myself, in a healthy manner. With that being said I will “take on the troubles of the troubled.”

Second – the calling and the waiting. We never know what God is going to do next, but all we can do is have hope. Hope has always had a very special meaning to me. Whenever I hear that word, it reminds me of something I once read: “H.O.P.E. Hold On, Pain Ends.” No matter how long we wait, everything will be okay in the end.

Regardless of what God calls us to do, we will sing in harmony with not only our voices but our lives as well. Our song can be one of hope because God promises to be with us in our professions, our joys and our troubles.

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers Reflection

Wednesday, December 14

Advent Vespers Reflection by Adrienne Eldridge

Isaiah 35:5-7

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

In God there is hope.

Isaiah 35:5-7 My favorite season is spring. Why? Because so much has happened in the wintertime; under the ground life is hibernating, transitioning, and getting ready to spring forward. Even before signs of spring are all around, there is a sense of excitement, possibility, hope. Soon there will be little signs of life popping up through the dark and wet ground, reaching for the sky and new life.

The book of Isaiah is full of both caution and promise. In Isaiah 35:5-7 the prophet foretells the possibility of what happens when the promises of God are revealed. As humans, we forget and do not always believe it, we are caught up in the hurt and pain that keeps our eyes covered and our ears closed. Yet – there is a breakthrough from winter to spring, a possibility that brings hope to the dry deserts and sight to those who have lost their way. We are reminded of the miracles of God, and there are so many metaphors for our lives in the present day. In God there is hope.

Adrienne Eldridge

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers Reflection

Tuesday, December 13

Advent Vespers Reflection by Ellen Weber

Isaiah 35:3-4

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.

God will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense.

God will come and save you.’

A few years ago, when I was playing defense during my soccer game, I twisted and heard something in my knee. I knew something was wrong and I hobbled off the field. Luckily it wasn’t a tear and was a cyst, but I did need to take time off. With that time off of soccer, I learned more about how to strengthen my knee and the muscles around it, how to listen to my body about what I could do or what needed to wait. I found a new connection with my body that was deeply embodied.

God has given us this beautiful, holy body that so many of us are fearful of. We are taught to be fearful of our own body or certain kinds of bodies or ways to be in our bodies. Advent is a time to notice and listen to our own bodies as God chose to show up with us and among us in a human body through Jesus. By connecting with our bodies we can be reminded who we are and whose we are. With that reminder, we can show up for each other in ways that are rooted and with open hands and hearts for each other. Ellen Weber

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers

Thursday, December 8

Advent Vespers Reflection by Geoffrey Gill

Isaiah 11:1-5

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

In Hebrew, Jesse means “God’s gift” or “God exists.” This passage revealed to me that God is inside me and God is growing. That his spirit has roots that are growing deep and branches that are stretching out of me. That as God grows within me so does God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding naturally flow more potently through me. I feel a presence of deep adoration, a humbleness, and awe. As my relationship with God grows- how I see and hear the world emerges through this relationship. God exists and is emerging in everyone around me; I just need to have the eyes to see. This is sometimes challenging, especially when we live in a chaotic and despondent world.

I pray that we remember “God works best in chaos’’ (Walter Brueggemann) and that we daily surrender to that which already lives inside of us. God exists! – That within our relationship with God we grow roots so deep we will be unshakable, branches so wide that we can touch others and they will be empowered, and that we provide shade for those in need of faith and rest.

We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!

If you haven’t heard of the Christensen Center for Vocation before, we are a center that equips and accompanies students, staff, faculty, and ministry leaders as they engage in vocational discernment around how we are called to show up as neighbor in the world. 

We are a team that is passionate about our work and strive to create an environment where everyone can show up as their full beloved selves. We love visitors that come by to say hi! We are located in Memorial Hall 233 and are always prepared with coffee/tea and snacks! Get to know our awesome staff below! 

Jeremy Myers, PhD   (he/him) Jeremy Myers and Kristina Fruge in the CCV office. Jeremy is giving a thumbs up and Kristina is smiling with a laptop in her arms.

Executive Director, Christensen Center for Vocation

Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation

Describe your remote from home set up: When I need to be presentable, I set my laptop on our piano which looks out a large window with good light and have lovely bookshelves behind me. But then I constantly have to resist the urge to tickle the ivories during Zoom meetings. Other times I’m on my front or back porch. Either way the dog is sleeping somewhere nearby.

You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat.  What’s the first thing you do? I place my right hand on my chest over my heart, close my eyes, and take a long deep breath.

Give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy? Each morning I will have a cup of coffee either outside or near a window. This is my time to practice awareness and presence. I force myself to not check email or social media. I allow myself to just notice the cup of coffee.

What is something you have learned from a pet? We have a flat-coated retriever named Shadow. He is beautiful and goofy. They are known as the Peter Pan of the dog world, eternal puppies. Everytime he sees us come into the house – even if we were gone for 10 minutes – he will act like he hasn’t seen us in years. I would like to greet all my friends and family with that much joy.

What are your favorite things about fall? My favorite things about fall – noticing the leaves change as  I cross the Mississippi River each day, fires in the backyard, cooler weather, and everything seems to slow down.

Kristina bending down picking rocks on the Seattle coast. Kristina Frugé   (she/her)

Continue reading “We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!”

Launching the V-Portfolio: Why Vocation is Important By Jon Bates

I just about thought that I knew all that I needed to know about the term vocation as I began my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator with the Christensen Center for Vocation. Turns out, the more I’ve worked on the V-Portfolio, the more I have realized how helpful being precise about what vocation is, intentional of discerning one’s own vocation, and being honest with yourself is for me and for students of Augsburg University.

Screenshot of home page of the V-portfolio website. Image of a car off-roading in the wilderness with text below explaining what the V-Portfolio is. With my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator, I have been furthering the work of the V-Portfolio alongside the directors with the centers of commitment at Augsburg University; the Sabo Center, Strommen Center, Center for Global Education & Experience, and the Christensen Center for Vocation. The V-Portfolio is essentially an online E-Portfolio but with a foundation of using vocation as the grounding for students, hence the title, Vocation Portfolio. 

 

Within the updated V-Portfolio website students are introduced or reintroduced to the term vocation, as it is defined as, “the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.” Colloquially vocation has been coined as a term that means the type of career or lifestyle one aspires to have. Vocation is something that happens in the future and begins with the individual. The V-Portfolio offers a different definition of vocation. As through the V-Portfolio, vocation is framed to focus on the present and is in response to the world, the neighbor. This is important work as our vocation is compelled to move because of the neighbor and that we get to decide how to respond using our own gifts, knowledge, and talents.

Continue reading “Launching the V-Portfolio: Why Vocation is Important By Jon Bates”

CHRISTENSEN CENTER FOR VOCATION STUDENT ASSISTANTS

Angelique Young ‘25 (she/her)

Major: Social work, Minor: PsychologyStudent Worker Angel Young

Hometown: Brooklyn Park, MN. 

 

I am one of the Student Assistants at the Christensen Center and Augsburg Youth Theology Institute. Having a positive impact on others is very important to me, from my work to my schooling to my personal life. I have worked for organizations like City Hall and Second Harvest that value helping others. It is also why I accepted my current position with the CCV and AYTI. I value gaining experience and opportunities that will benefit me in the future. 

 


AYTI Student Worker Renee Christensen

Renee Christensen ‘23 (she/her)

Major: Theology and public leadership, Minor: Psychology

Hometown: Shafer, MN.

 

I am one of the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute Student Assistants, and have worked with AYTI for 3 years! I was lucky enough to attend AYTI as a participant and fell in love with Augsburg and this program! I am so excited to share all of the great ways AYTI has impacted the lives of youth!

 


 

CCV Worker Jam PashyayevaJam Pashyayeva ‘25 (she/her)

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Capital of Azerbaijan, Baku.

 

I am an international student at Augsburg. I am good at a range of different skills such as cooking, writing, and all sorts of sports (cycling, tennis, basketball, swimming and etc.). I know English, Russian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani languages on an exceptional level and currently learning French and Italian. I worked as a personal translator for KoçSistem Company Director. Art was always my passion since a very young age that’s why I decided that working in the sphere that will require my skills and this position at CCV as part-time work is the best opportunity to start learning and getting on the right track for my future career.

 


Student Worker Aaron Puent

Aaron Puent ‘23 (he/him)

Major: Religion w/ Concentration in Global Religions and Interfaith Studies

Hometown: La Crosse, WI.

 

Working in CCV is important to me because it combines my passion for studying theology with my interest in helping others find the spiritual and intellectual tools that they need. I began working with CCV last year when I was an AYTI mentor. The following fall, I was able to join as a recruiter for the Public Church Scholars program. Because of this work, I can help others find what they need for future success, and I am still learning about Augsburg, its affiliations, and the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in the background.  

 


 

Student Worker Sarah RunckSarah Runck ‘24 (she/her) 

 

Major: Music Therapy 

Hometown: New Ulm MN

 

I love to play instruments which include flute, piano, guitar, and ukulele. I also grew up on a farm where I always liked to be outside and go on walks. Along with this, I was involved with my church growing up. Some church things included helping with VBS, teaching Religious education to 2nd graders, helping with music, and helping with festivals. Faith has always been a strong passion of mine and working at CCV has given me the opportunity to grow in my faith and learn about other religions. I am excited to keep learning and to hear more stories!

Launching a New Riverside Innovation Hub Learning Community!

Event Recap

On Friday, July 30th and Saturday, July 31st, the Riverside Innovation Hub gathered online with 75 participants from 12 local congregations to mark the launch of new learning community. We spent our time together learning more about who is in the learning community, how our learning will take shape, and what’s next.
Enjoy a few highlights from our event.

Introductions to Congregationsmap of Minneapolis with pins of congregations

One person from each congregation was invited to introduce their congregation and why they’re participating now. Some shared that they hope this learning community can provide  guidance as they reimagine what church might look like after the pandemic has disrupted the ways in which the church had often remained inside the four walls of a building, or for others in time of deep transition. Some congregations hope that this learning community helps hold them accountable to the neighbor-oriented work they have wanted to do, but have not always been able to make a priority. Others hope for a process to learn how to be good neighbors in their neighborhoods. See this blog post for a list of partner congregations.

Continue reading “Launching a New Riverside Innovation Hub Learning Community!”