It 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.”
I, Amanda, said yes to stewarding the young adult book project because I believe that this book, a book that centers and amplifies the voices of young adults who care deeply about the church, will be inspiring, disorienting, and transformational for the readers, congregations, neighborhoods, and communities who experience it. My hope is that this book will inspire us into hope, disorient us away from the status quo, help us remember who God is calling us to be, and continue transforming us so that we can show up more wholeheartedly in the places and spaces we are all called to be.
We launched the writing phase of the young adult book project in Mid-March by gathering all twenty-two writers at Montreat Conference Center for a Writers’ retreat. The purpose of the time together was to become familiar with each other and this project, preview how we plan to write a cohesive multi-voice book with twenty-two authors, and have each set of co-authors spend time together, in-person, to connect and plan.
On Friday evening, we gathered for dinner and our first session together. We introduced ourselves to each other, shared what values were carrying into the room and into the project, and looked back at the project’s story so far (Project Overview).
On Saturday, we had a mix of large group time and co-author time. In the large group, we looked at the logistics of how this project will come to fruition, and heard from each young adult author on why the theme they’ve been chosen to write on is important to the church.
In co-author pairs, each thought leader and young adult spent time connecting, brainstorming a chapter theme summary statement, and creating a game plan for how they’ll communicate, collaborate, and schedule their work. Each pair did this work uniquely, some started with a hike, some began with solitude, some took a stroll across the retreat center, some began by sharing about how their lived experiences will inform the theme they’ll write on, some began with writing, and all of them did really, really great work. Nicholas Tangen, the thought leader for the Community theme, said, “[He was] glad to meet so many new folks, to conspire and dream with my co-author Amar Peterman (who may be among the smartest people I’ve ever met), and to laugh way more than I had any business to. When people say the church is dying, I’m going to point back to rooms like the ones this weekend and let them know the church is more alive than ever!” Continue reading “The Writer’s Have Met! A Recap of the Writer’s Retreat in Montreat”→
Over lunch one day, Katie Clark was describing the process of becoming a certified foot care specialist. It was quite the feat! I was curious why she put so much work into that certification. Her response was, “Because most people who come into our Health Commons are coming in for foot care. They’re on their feet all day every day and their feet are in bad shape.” This epitomizes the compassion and commitment of Katie for her work and the people she serves. Katie’s commitment to approaching health care through accompaniment shapes her work as an ever changing response to what the neighbors need.
Dr. Katie Clark is a member of the nursing faculty and the Executive Director of Augsburg University’s Health Commons. The Health Commons are nursing-led drop-in centers that focus on radical hospitality and building trusting relationships with people in marginalized communities. These Health Commons are located in downtown Minneapolis, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, and Rochester, MN.
Dr. Clark had extensive experience doing medical missions work overseas in Peru, Haiti, and Namibia. But those experiences never sat well with her. She would return home feeling as though she hadn’t learned enough about the culture or the larger situation and context in these countries. She wondered if she and her companions were simply promoting a monoculture of healthcare and wellness rather than learning how wellness, health, illness, and care were understood in the context of these cultures.
This uneasy feeling drew Katie to the study of transcultural nursing, the work of Dr. Paul Farmer, and the importance of social justice in the practice of nursing. You can’t just treat the symptoms of a problem; you must work to end the problem. You can just waltz into someone’s life with your solutions, you have to do the work of accompaniment in order to understand who they are, how they suffer, how they heal, and what they might need from you. Katie had found the way she wanted to do her work.
Under the leadership of Dr. Clark, the Augsburg Health Commons sites accompany those who are experiencing homelessness, are marginally housed, or are new immigrants who have fled wars. Their work with these neighbors is constantly evolving because the Health Commons are committed to this practice of accompaniment and mutuality, working diligently to fully humanize these neighbors while offering care. Students in Augsburg University’s nursing program gain firsthand experience providing care for people through more humanizing and relational practices than what most experience in our country’s healthcare system.Continue reading “Accompaniment One Foot at a Time”→
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
Have you ever left a meeting and the minute you sign off or walk away you just smile as a wave of gratitude washes over you? That happened to me after meeting with Jaelyn Arndt, an Augsburg alum and current Assistant Director of Communications at the NCAA.
We at the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) were intrigued to hear Jaelyn’s story after a tweet last summer where she answered the question “What is your calling?” She credits the Auggie support system for helping her find her dream. We, at CCV are curious to know the various ways we see vocation lived out on a daily basis in the lives and work of our Augsburg colleagues, students, alums, 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.
This is a story about how an Augsburg alum became an engaged neighbor through learning about her own vocation.
Jaelyn graciously agreed to meet with me (Ellen Weber) via Zoom from Indiana and share her story.
When Jaelyn came to Augsburg to tour, she was guided by our Volleyball Head Coach, Jane Becker and Assistant Coach, Jennifer Jacobs. She walked away from that tour years ago thinking, “These are my people!” So after her senior year at Washburn, she started at Augsburg and was part of the volleyball team.
Throughout her time at Augsburg, Jaelyn leaned on her volleyball teammates and staff like family. “Because it is a D3 school, people actually cared about me and my wellbeing.” The volleyball team was a place where Jaelyn learned who people are. “Before the season started, our coach would give us working packets about our teammates. We had workshops where we learned each other’s love languages, how we like to be approached, and how we give feedback. We started our practices sharing what we were grateful for or sharing how our day was. It mattered who we are and that we knew who actually was on the court with us.” Continue reading ““Learning My Calling of Storytelling” at Augsburg: Jaelyn Arndt’s Vocation Story”→
Dr. Christina Erickson, Social Work on January 24th, 2023
Reading: By Anne LaMott
My coming to this vocation did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved. I can see how flimsy and indirect a path they made. Yet each step brought me closer to the verdant pad on which I stay afloat today.
Good morning – I have been a social worker for 30 years and I felt like that gave me an easy out on this vocation stuff –easy, it was my work – which I described as making the world a better place. Becoming a social work professor was a natural evolution of that original vocational path. I was set. No more discoveries to be made. What I never expected, was a mid-life vocation that would grip me for more than 10 years. Like Ann Lamott describes, I can look back and see how I leapt from lily pad to lily pad through the course of my life, never knowing that those experiences would become so important to a mid-life vocation I couldn’t have imagined.
Lily pad 1…..My mother’s spanking – so futile, so “not into it”, her swings and misses. My own wriggling away. My father’s spanking – so scary, so shaming, having to stop himself because he was big and strong. My 3 older brothers spankings, – so harsh, so much anger in both directions.
My family of origin, the family I grew up in, was happy, I felt loved, we were loud, we laughed, 5 children and 2 parents who were high school sweethearts, pregnant before they were married despite strict Catholic upbringings, we were fine and good and my parents spanked us. My parents hit us. They never hit each other, they never hit the dog, but spanking a child on the butt….that was acceptable, anytime, parental decision alone, no child input needed. In spanking, the perpetrator is always right and the victim is always wrong.
Lily pad 2….my high school boyfriend. We met in the tennis module of gym class. We were separated by gender (this was 1984) through the whole unit until the end when the ranked boys played the ranked girls. He was ranked first in his gender and I in mine. We had to battle it out, and while I lost handily, it was love, love. We started dating. 2 years into our high school romance I punched him in the stomach in my parent’s basement family room. I have no memory of why, but I remember the event vividly. My anger, my punching, the look on his face.
Lily pad 3 – I go to graduate school in social work and begin my field experience at The Initial Intervention Unit in child and family services. We were the first social workers to visit a home or school with a child abuse investigation. I see the effects of hitting on little bodies. I see the pain and shame of parents who have to talk to us. I feel their struggle, I see their love for their children.
Our Christensen Scholars initiative is part of the Public Leader Scholars programs which offer students a unique opportunity to explore how their worldview/faith(s) shapes them as leaders, as well as build their leadership skills.
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.”
“When we are able to live as our full selves, we can shape opportunities for those around us. Seeing others being able to live as their own authentic selves provided a pathway for me to do the same. Finding my vocational passion was possible because I had a supportive community. And that is why I try, to the extent that I am able to do so, work to provide space and community for others to do the same.”
This is an exploration of an unfolding relationship with vocation. It all started back in 2008 during my freshman year at Augsburg. That’s when I was introduced to vocation. That’s when my life took a drastic turn and I tapped into something that woke me up and gave me a sense of purpose.
While recording this video we explored the Christensen Symposium with Jeremy Myers and then we talked to current students and a faculty member about their thoughts around vocation and being a neighbor. I was able to weave all these different ideas together, over 14 years of exploring, to really innerstand* what vocation means to me. My hope is that this short video will spark something for you and that you will innerstand* your vocation is happening right now, right here in this very moment.
*(innerstand: knowing something as an experience; where one is able to make a personal connection, Not just a concept.