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Apply Now! Invite Your Youth to Join Us at The Confluence, June 23rd-28th, 2024

Mentors and Confluence staff at the end of the week celebration

Apply Now! Invite your youth to join us at The Confluence, June 23rd-28th, 2024

Written by Gretchen Roeck

Do you know a high school student who is trying to figure out who they are and what kind of life they want to live? Invite them to attend The Confluence

The Confluence at Augsburg University is a week where high schoolers are invited to explore their vocation — that space where their personal story, God’s story and the world’s story converge. 

Invite the youth you know to our weeklong, on-campus, summer program for high school students who have completed 9th-12th grades. 

Students will learn through:

– vocational discernment

– meaningful peer relationships  

– experiential learning with local leaders and organizations in the TwinCities

– personal reflection and discernment

– small group conversation led by current Augsburg student mentors

– spiritual practices and daily worship

– theological inquiry and study with Augsburg professor, Dr. Jeremy Myers. 

The group at the overlook over the Mississippi River.We hope to reach curious youth who want to live purposefully in relationship with their neighbors, orientated to God’s vision of a just and sustainable world for all. Questions and doubts are welcome. 

Cost: $400/participant. Participants are responsible for transportation to and from Augsburg University. 

Apply now at:

Application Deadline: May 15th

Augsburg Scholarship Opportunity:  Students who attend The Confluence and decide to attend Augsburg University as a full-time student will receive a minimum of $20,000 applied to their financial aid package for up to four years.



Please contact Gretchen Roeck, Program Director


Uncovering Vocation – Vocation Favors the Prepared Mind (or “How I Got to Augsburg”) Dr. Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright

Uncovering Vocation is a partnership between Campus Ministry and the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, a member of the Augsburg community is invited to share a component of their vocation story. It has become a way of building community, becoming reacquainted with one another, and celebrating the diversity of people and vocations that make Augsburg University the beautiful place it is.

On September 12, 2023 Dr. Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright from Augsburg’s biology department shared her story, “Vocation Favors the Prepared Mind (or ‘How I Got to Augsburg’)”. Enjoy a video of her talk and the transcript below.

Vocation Favors the Prepared Mind (or “How I Got to Augsburg”)

by Dr. Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright, Biology

If you ask any scientist how they became a scientist or any university professor how they became a university professor, the vast majority will say they don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. That is not my origin story.   When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was little, I gave them a whole list: singer, dancer, actress, mother, (and when my mom told me I could check boy careers too) fireman, doctor, police man – I checked all the boxes Except scientist. Or teacher. 

And this continued, though not with much thought, throughout my childhood until …at the end of 9th grade, I knew exactly what my ultimate goal was – my vocation.  It was time to register for HS classes, and my future was spelled out in all the electives that were now available to me, a high schooler!! Finally!! The next 3 years were going to be amazing, because I was going to register for every elective that would prepare me for my chosen career: THEATER!

I giddily gave my 10th grade registration form to my parents to sign, and family lore recreates this moment like this: 

Me: “Here’s what I’m taking in high school next year! Isn’t it great?!”

Parents:  “Hahaha! No.” Continue reading “Uncovering Vocation – Vocation Favors the Prepared Mind (or “How I Got to Augsburg”) Dr. Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright”

Transformed by the Public Church Framework: Trinity Lutheran Congregation

Today’s post comes from Pastor Liesl Spitz. She served as Intern Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Congregation from 2017 to 2019 and is currently one of the pastors at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in St. Paul. 

This blog is one in a of a series of stories of transformation from our congregational learning partners, which illustrate the larger story of our project and learning partnerships as we begin to promote another learning partnership opportunity

overhead image of cheese pizzaI stop by Domino’s on my way to church. It’s Friday night at 9pm. When I get there I meet one of our young adults, and we walk to the corner of Cedar and Riverside. A plastic table is already set up with a kettle of tea and a warming bag to hold the pizzas. Just cheese, no meat, Abdi told us when we offered to bring them. It’s what the guys prefer.

Abdi Mukhtar is the founder of Daryeel Youth. Daryeel means “care” in Somali. Each Friday night, even in the coldest winter, Abdi shares chai tea and pizza with young men in our neighborhood who are most vulnerable to drug use and violence. Weekend nights at the corner of Cedar and Riverside is where Abdi had seen the most harm. So weekend nights at that corner is where he sets up.

Continue reading “Transformed by the Public Church Framework: Trinity Lutheran Congregation”

Transformed by the Public Church Framework: Church of All Nations

Today’s blog post comes from Marie Page at Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights. She shares the story of the learnings and transformation their community has experienced by being a learning partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub.

This blog is the second in a series of stories of transformation from our congregational learning partners. We hope these stories illustrate the larger story of our project as we promote another learning partnership opportunity. 

church of all nations logo with white dove over multicolored cross

When we first started conversations with Riverside Innovation Hub, we could hardly have imagined the depth and variety of challenges that would face our congregation and our society in these past few years; but the insights and collaborative support we received through our partnership could not have come at a better time.

In the initial stages of the process, the public church framework offered clarity and a healthy challenge as we discerned where the Spirit was calling us. Their early enthusiasm was additional confirmation that our desire for a regenerative reset of our relationship with the land itself was an idea that could catch imagination and spark passion with many. Church “as we’ve always done it,” we sensed, was increasingly failing to satisfy the hunger of our members and community. With the support of our RIH partners, we began our multi-year permaculture project.

Continue reading “Transformed by the Public Church Framework: Church of All Nations”

Transformed by the Public Church Framework – St. Luke’s and James

Today’s post comes from Stephen Richards at St. Luke’s and James Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. He shares the story of the learnings and transformation their community has experienced by being a learning partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub. Steve has previously shared some of the story of their journey through a video on our blog.

This blog marks the beginning of a series of stories of transformation from our congregational learning partners, which illustrate the larger story of our project and learning partnerships as we begin to promote another learning partnership opportunity. 

peace craft logo with name of the organization belowI’ve been asked to respond to the question, How has your faith community experienced transformation as a partner in the Riverside Innovation Hub? I feel that any response to this question requires a two-part answer. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the work at St Luke’s was building momentum. We had a clear plan and goals for how we were continuing and expanding our work and partnership with RIH. PeaceCraft, the initiative that evolved from this, was very integrated into our faith community. The public church framework was becoming our lingua franca, or common language. Then COVID hit and it felt like everything came to a screeching halt.

At first, there was a felt sense of grief and lament. We’d lost so much and initially struggled to find our way to next-steps. However, the public church framework of listening, discerning, and applying what we had learned helped us rise up from the ashes.

Despite not being able to enter a physical building during the time of COVID, it feels we have been spiritually resourced by RIH to find ways to connect with God and others outside of it. In fact, it has become very natural to turn our attention out and towards others. For example, when a homeless encampment appeared around Lake Nokomis in summer 2020, some members of our community supported and worked with local groups who were providing food and resources for families. They felt that this work and our mission values inter-connected. I immediately recognized the public church framework playing out. This work was also immediately validated by our church as an expression of authentic Christian faith.

people gather to chat outside
Members of St. Luke’s gathered outside on their “front porch.” [Photo taking before the Covid pandemic]
Elsewhere in 2020, we were approached by the community of St James on the Parkway with an invitation to consolidate. I felt this process was also facilitated by the open and inquisitive work we had done with RIH. For instance, rather than focus on differences we looked for points of connection; in line with the public church framework. This work of consolidation eventually led to the creation of a new faith community of St Luke’s and St James. It is noteworthy that one of the reasons the St James community was initially drawn to consolidate with us, was because they were excited by the work we had been doing with RIH.

Finally, and as we look to COVID restrictions being lifted, we feel our new community is once again being drawn into the work of accompaniment, interpretation, and discernment. We’ve become curious. We are wrestling with the tension of programming vs innovation. Where it seems we have become too focused on programming, there is a restlessness and desire to turn our attention outside. We are finding ourselves existing in the thin-space between balancing the needs of the faith community and those of the neighborhood. We are also willing to ask why we are doing things. We are not rubber-stamping the old ways. In one sense, our partnership with RIH has led us to the idea that the work we do is never truly done, and also not necessarily measured by definite outcomes. Instead, we celebrate what has gone before and remain open to new movements of the Spirit amongst us.


Through the Riverside Innovation Hub at Augsburg University, we convene learning communities of congregations and ministry leaders. These learning communities explore new ways of being engaged in their contexts that create opportunities for the mutual sharing of good news with our neighbors.

We practice and teach this through the Public Church Framework. Below is a collection of videos and blogs to illustrate the Public Church Framework. Included are stories from congregational members involved in the Riverside Innovation Hub sharing examples of what the good news has looked, felt, and sounded like in their communities.

Introduction to the Public Church Framework:

diagram depicting the four artforms of the public church framwork

Stories from Congregations:


Stephen Richards with St. Luke’s and James


Ryana Holt with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church


Pr. Liesl Spitz with Trinity Congregation and Marie Page with Church of All Nations