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The Pause Button

Written by Adrienne Kuchler Eldridge, AYTI Program Director

 

Pause. /pôz/

A rock with a pause symbol on it with the blue sky behind it. a temporary stop in action or speech. 

 

So many times in my work as a youth director, in my job as a high school career counselor, and my life as a mama, I have found myself pushing the pause button to explain a scene in a movie, describe the steps in a college application, or decipher a lyric in a song. According to Wikipedia, the pause button was invented in the 1960s “during that decade for use on reel-to-reel audio recorder controls” and was intended as an “indicator which stops operation intermittently and keeps the equipment in operating mode”. Today, we only have to look at the little two line symbol to know that once we hit that button, it’s just a momentary pause in whatever we are doing.

This summer, the staff at the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute had to make the difficult decision to cancel our summer institute due to low enrollment. This is the first time this significant decision has been made in our history. We are grieving. And yet with the hopefulness toward the future, we have energy for listening, dreaming, and creating. In order to do that, we are choosing to see this point in time as a pause in our regular communications. This pause will allow us to lean in, stop operations intermittently, and keep our program in operating mode as we discern the next steps on our journey. We are not “out” of this pandemic yet and we are not returning to any old “normal”. Our congregations, our communities, and our young people are experiencing a shift. In response, we are choosing to accompany our congregational partners as we first listen and then learn a different way forward. 

We believe wholeheartedly in the mission of the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI). To inspire emerging high school theologians to observe, interpret, and engage their world through Christ for the sake of their neighbor. Our participants learn how to reflect theologically on culture and find meaningful ways to respond to the call from God that happens in this process of reflection. 

Our social media posts and stories will be on pause for the summer as we listen to all that is happening, moving, and changing around us and for the young people we serve. We will be spending our time accompanying congregational partners, learning from them about the changing landscape of the young people they serve, and discerning next steps for mutual aid in these partnerships. We will be thinking theologically about our work at the institute and discovering meaningful ways to respond to God’s call in the process of this reflection. We look forward to sharing what we have learned through this important time of intentional reflection later this fall. 

How is God calling you to press pause this summer? 

AYTI will see you in September! 

 

Daily Devotions: God’s People [re]connect!

Each year for the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, daily themes are chosen that are grounded in a biblical text. During the months of training and preparation for the Institute, the college mentors engage in theological reflection as a team and dig deeper into the biblical texts together. Through their leadership development with staff and the Institute chaplain, they read, plan, write, and eventually lead daily devotions for participants using these verses. The following themes and verses are now this year’s devotions. 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Separation

Genesis 3:1-13

Covenant

Genesis 9:8-17

Reunion 

Luke 15:1-10

Breaking Bread 

John 6:1-15

Companionship 

Luke 24:13-35

2022 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Pastor John Schwehn and Pastoral Intern Tori Remer for their guidance and support as mentorsDevos 2022 Title Image prepared to write these devotions. The hours of conversation, prayer, theological reflection, and support that were given throughout the process is gratefully appreciated. We are proud of our college mentors and their work this spring.

PERMISSION

AYTI offers these themes and devotions for use by our partners. All credit should be given to the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute when using this material. Thank you. 

MISSION OF AYTI

The Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) inspires emerging high school theologians to observe, interpret, and engage their world through Christ for the sake of their neighbor. Our participants learn how to reflect theologically on culture and find meaningful ways to respond to the call from God that happens in this process of reflection. 

To achieve this, we provide an intense, one-week residential experience with a new theme every year. Students read theological texts and experience a college classroom, participate in worship, explore diverse community-based learning, and have intentional small group conversations led by college mentors. Following their week on campus, students write a theological paper on the theme and their paper is published in a journal to be shared with congregations and the wider community.  www.augsburg.edu/ayti

Continue reading “Daily Devotions: God’s People [re]connect!”

Mentors for the 2022 Youth Theology Institute

One gift we have each year at the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI), is hiring current college students to train and lead as mentors during our annual summer institute. These students come to AYTI with energy and gifts for serving young people who are curious about how God is working in their lives and the world. These leaders spend the spring semester developing skills for small group facilitation, studying and researching biblical stories to prepare to lead a daily devotion with our participants, and honing their leadership skills to provide a safe and welcoming place for the high school participants during the institute.

2022 AYTI Mentors being goofy!
2022 AYTI Mentors being goofy!

We are excited to introduce to you the 2022 AYTI Mentors. They are such a fun group and we know the high school participants are going to enjoy spending the week of AYTI with them!

Continue reading “Mentors for the 2022 Youth Theology Institute”

Youth are Rising in Faith and Leadership Today

AYTI participants, Zoe (left) and Dinkenesh (right)
AYTI participants, Zoe (left) and Dinkenesh (right)

For years, I had wanted to nominate youth to attend the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, but had not yet been able to have one attend. Then, finally, my own daughter was midway through high school and we were in the midst of Covid. She applied for several opportunities in the summer of 2020 when she was looking toward her junior year of high school, and AYTI was the only program that found a way to offer their summer program online. She was not certain that she was prepared for a week of theological engagement or a week that resulted in writing a paper, but she was willing to give it a try. We promised to support her.

Continue reading “Youth are Rising in Faith and Leadership Today”

Starting the Year Together

Eight Augsburg University students, both AYTI mentors and participants, gather together for chapel in September 2021.
Eight Augsburg University students, both AYTI mentors and participants, gather together for chapel in September 2021.

The Augsburg University community is in its first few weeks of in-person classes after a year and a half of being apart from one another due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The last two summers the participants, mentors, and staff of the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) have gathered for our annual event virtually. This means that some people had not been able to meet each other in-person. This week however, we got to meet one another in person, some for the first time ever, and others for the first time in a long time. AYTI mentors and participants, who are current Auggies, gathered to connect as the semester begins. We ate donuts, told stories, attended chapel together, and celebrated the AYTI community.

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Celebrating Young Theologians

The Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) is one of the many initiatives of the Christensen Center for Vocation. AYTI inspires emerging high school theologians to observe, interpret, and engage their world through Christ for the sake of their neighbor. Our participants learn how to reflect theologically on culture and find meaningful ways to respond to the call from God that happens in this process of reflection. Following their week at the institute, students write a theological paper on the theme that is compiled into a journal and shared with congregations and the wider community.

At the end of June we wrapped up the 2021 institute, and it was incredible! So many amazing young people were excited about our theme, And It Was Very Good: Affirming and Advocating for Gender and Sexual Diversity in God’s Creation. We welcomed instructor Deacon Ross Murray to guide us through a week of curriculum that focused on faithful advocacy that allows LGBTQ people to be full members of society, reading the bible through a queer lens, assessing our congregations using the Reconciling Works Building an Inclusive Church tools, and telling compelling personal stories rooted in theology. Our young people engaged in deep discussion, thoughtful reflection, and learned what it means to be a young theologian.

Continue reading “Celebrating Young Theologians”

Meet the 2021 Youth Theology Institute Mentors

Each year the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) hires a handful of college students to be leaders for the upcoming summer institute. With the goal of developing a campus wide student leadership culture, AYTI collaborated with other organizations on campus to develop an application, interview, and training process for students interested in working leadership positions on campus. This was such a powerful witness to the ways in which Augsburg’s mission is lived out in our community.

AYTI Mentors joined Orientation Leaders, Strommen Center Peer Advisors, AugSem Leaders, and more in a semester long class for credit that served as their leadership training for their job as AYTI Mentors. In this course all students worked to develop knowledge and skills utilizing the Social Change Model of Leadership Development. This model helps students understand their individual values (consciousness of self, congruence, and commitment), the values of the group (collaboration, common purpose, and controversy with civility), and societal and community values. The class training also focused on topics such as identity, intersectionality, anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy, brave space, disability as difference, and becoming interfaith allies. All students were able to complete the Intercultural Development Inventory and reflect on the ways in which they show up as leaders in all spaces and places.

Continue reading “Meet the 2021 Youth Theology Institute Mentors”

Augsburg Student Reflects on the Youth Theology Institute

Grace’s Journey

Augsburg student Grace smiling in a field
Grace Porter, 4th year Augsburg student

This story has been written by Grace Porter, a 4th year Augsburg student studying Theology & Public Leadership with a concentration in Youth Studies and a minor in Music. Grace will graduate in December 2021. 

I had just finished my junior year in high school, and I was starting to think about my future when I discovered that my love for God and my passion for working with young people could be an actual job! My youth pastor at the time said to me, “I have a friend at Augsburg College who runs a summer theology program for high schoolers, you should check that out!” From the moment I stepped foot onto the Augsburg campus, I knew that this place was special.

Continue reading “Augsburg Student Reflects on the Youth Theology Institute”

Introducing Danielle

headshot of Danielle Tucker

Danielle Tucker joined the CCV staff in late March 2021 as the Program Coordinator for Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI). She was born in Minneapolis and has spent most of her life here. In 2014, she graduated from Augsburg University with a degree in Educational Studies. She also holds an Associate of Liberal Arts from Minneapolis Community & Technical College. “I love Jesus and engaging with youth and young adults for his purposes on this side of heaven. I am an active member of my home church, New Salem Missionary Baptist Church where I serve as a Youth Bible Study teacher and for Lead our Youth/Young Adult Mentorship Initiative. I believe we were created to live relationally and hold sacred the relationships I have been blessed to experience in my youth servant leader role both in the church and in my community as well as where they intersect. When I am not with my family or serving Gods’ people, I enjoy crafting, curating, creating for my business “Created to Create” and listening to audio books.”

 

Q & A Sessions for AYTI

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT AYTI?

  • Do you have questions about the 2021 AYTI theme?
  • Are you curious about what worship and devotions are like?
  • Do you wonder what youth might be a good fit to participate?
  • Are you wondering how participants will engage thoughtfully in the virtual platform?

We invite you to join one of the two upcoming virtual Q&A sessions on Zoom that will give you a chance to hear from staff and college mentors about the 2021 AYTI experience. This is your chance to ask questions on the general information about the institute, celebrate the  possibilities of the virtual platform, and learn more about theme content so that you can nominate students who will thrive at this year’s Institute!

These sessions will be held on Friday, March 5th, from 10-11am CST; and Tuesday, March 9th from 4-5pm CST. Please sign up using this form to receive the zoom link!