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Introducing the 2023 – 2024 Christensen Scholars

Each year we select up to ten outstanding students to spend one year together in a high-level seminar style course exploring a theological understanding of vocation. These scholars build relationships with one another, develop theological acumen, and spend time volunteering with influential organizations in the community. The purpose of this program is to help these students reflect on how their sense of vocation has been formed and how it is forming their future aspirations. Here are some brief introductions to these amazing scholars.


Headshot of Chiara JirilloChiara Jirillo | Class of 2025 | Milan, Italy

Major: New Media Studies, Minor: Graphic Design

 

I first moved to Minnesota in February of 2021 to be an au pair. I took care of an infant, while living with my host family, and we created such a strong bond that I decided to come back to Minnesota as a student. I am a very devoted person when it comes to my loved ones. My deepest hopes are that compassion and understanding become the foundation of human interactions, allowing empathy and fostering unity across different cultures. My goal is to go to Switzerland for my Master’s degree and start working for the United Nation to help maintain international peace and achieve international cooperation. I love to spend time with my close friends and host family.

 

A blue mushroom in a forest. Theo Coval | Class of 2026| Robbinsdale, MN 

Major: Biospsychology, Minors: Religion & Creative Writing

 

I chose Augsburg because of its disability accommodations and small campus. It’s also very close to where I live so as a commuter that is ideal. I have an excessive amount of exotic pets, including pond fish, birds, tarantulas/inverts, snakes, and an iguana roughly four feet long. I suppose I’d like to see a world where people have higher empathy, particularly along cultural lines. I think entertainment plays a big role in how people see different identities with how they are represented and portrayed in media, for example the now-defunct Hays Code made it so that certain television programs could only depict queer characters in a negative or villainous light. As an author I try to include authentic representation of a variety of identities in my work in an attempt to normalize the inclusion of all peoples in our social narrative. One thing I love to do is write. I am constantly working on fiction projects.

 

Headshot of Marcia FranciosMarcia Francois | Class of 2026 | Brooklyn Park, MN

Major: Psychology, Minor: Sociology 

 

I came to Augsburg University because it was close to home and also because of the diverse community on campus. One thing that is unique about me is my voice. I have heard it is very unique for a female. My deepest hope for this world is that people learn to understand and accept each other’s differences. As a student leader on campus, I have taken classes such as the Emerging Leaders Program and Leadership Studies to understand better the world we live in and the people who inhabit it. One thing I love to do is pamper myself.

 

 

Headshot of Danny HoDanny Ho | Class of 2025 | St. Paul, MN

Major: Finance

 

I decided to attend Augsburg because I wanted to attend an smaller school with a tight community. I love how diverse Augsburg is and the fact that Augsburg is in the cities. One of my passions is Entrepreneurship. My deepest hope is for everyone to find their true calling in life. I believe one of the most important days of your life is when you find your purpose. I want to become a leader that inspires people to become the best versions of themselves. I love to sing.

 

Continue reading “Introducing the 2023 – 2024 Christensen Scholars”

That’s a wrap! Final Two Vocation Chapels This Academic Year

Mark Hanson speaking at the podium in chapelIt has been a wonderful year full of stories from our community about how our staff and faculty have uncovered their own vocations throughout their lives. It truly has been an honor and blessing to listen to these stories. We are grateful for each one of them and for the campus ministry team for their willingness to try something new with us. We are looking forward to hearing more when we return to campus in the fall.

 

Watch our last two vocation chapels below from Dr. Ryan Haaland, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Rev. Mark Hanson, Interfaith Institute Fellow.


In case you are new or are unsure what vocation means. Vocation is a term we use a lot around Augsburg. It can be vague. It can mean different things to different people. It can feel elusive and slippery.

An attempt to explain vocation by Jeremy Myers: “You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.”


“Be Careful What You Wish For”

“Formative Disruptions”

 

“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

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

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”

The Christensen Symposium Was a Success!

September 22nd was the annual Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium. Jeremy Myers shared a talk called “From Nowhere to Now Here”. In it, he encourages us all to see vocation as something that roots us in the present moment for the sake of the neighbor. If you missed it or want to listen to it again check it out below.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from the talk:

  • “It’s not a journey from point A to point B, where you have to leave this place to go to that place. Instead I want to invite you into a journey that’s really more about becoming rooted deeply in the place where we already find ourselves.”
  • “Vocation is ultimately not about you it’s about the space that exists between you and your neighbor.”
  • It is “the quest of inquiry to figure out who our neighbor is and what it is our neighbor needs from us to thrive. It’s not a journey where you need to go on a quest to find some vocation that’s hidden out there in the future from you. It’s an invitation into the right here and the right now. That vocation is something that saves us from the nowhere plants us firmly right here with one another in this moment of time to do this good work that we’ve been given to do today. and we get to do that together and I think that’s pretty great.”

 

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! 

 

The Kin-dom of Heaven is like a Front Porch By Kristina Frugé 

Jesus can regularly be heard saying “the kin-dom of heaven is like…” and then offering an image, a story, a metaphor to root this vision to a place or experience. It is like a mustard seed, a lost coin, wheat among the weeds, a treasure in clay jars, the leaven that makes bread rise. Kin-dom or reign of God are of course, in themselves a kind of metaphor that reflect the ancient context of their teacher.  These metaphors speak to the audience – an agricultural community of peoples around the turn of the century – as Jesus seeks to stir the people’s imagination for the kind of world God desires them to experience and participate in. 

Sts. Luke and James red front door with peace flags hung up on a string across the front yard.

The Riverside Innovation Hub and the congregational partners we’ve been blessed to learn alongside these past several years, have been about this kin-dom of God work too. I cannot remember ever using this language explicitly with our congregational learning communities. But what we have been talking about and working towards is cultivating more places and relationships that reflect the ways God intends for us to be and be together. We’ve been chasing after that call, one relationship at a time, one walk through our neighborhoods at a time, one story or surprise at a time. 

Kin-dom metaphors may not quite fit our current context, but the idea of a front porch has caught our imagination as a helpful metaphor to encourage the relationship building work we are trying to be about. Relationships that shape stories that shape neighborhoods that look and feel a little bit more like God’s good intentions for a whole, flourishing and connected creation – one neighborhood block at a time. 

On one of these neighborhood blocks – at the corner of Colfax and W 46th St. in south Minneapolis – sits Sts Luke & James Episcopal Church. Also on this corner block exists a front porch of sorts. It wasn’t always there, but a few years ago the folks from this congregation began seeking out places to listen to their neighbors and some hints of an invitation began to stir among them. Continue reading “The Kin-dom of Heaven is like a Front Porch By Kristina Frugé “