Picture of a chapel spire with the Augsburg University and Luther Seminary logos in the upper left hand corner. There is bolded white text in the Center of the photo that says "Centered Life Series"

Fall 2018 Series | Winter 2019 Series | Spring 2019 Series | Fall 2019 Series | Winter 2020 Series | Winter 2021 Series | Fall 2021 Series | Winter 2022 Series


WELCOME TO THE winter 2023 Centered Life Series!

Jack Fortin

We are ramping up for another four-week Centered Life Series beginning the last week of January. We are enthused about our theme, the presenters and the format for this year!

The title for this series is, “Re-Centering to Claim Our Call for Today”. The Covid disruption and its aftermath has become more profound than first imagined and has forced us to shift the way we are living our lives. What we took for granted has been altered. We are adjusting from what we thought was a temporary reality to realizing that it has become the new norm. Changes we thought were temporary are now a permanent reality requiring us to find new patterns of living.

In this changed reality, we are challenged to re-center ourselves and deepen our roots within our faith traditions. Trusting in God’s grace and truth can free us to serve our neighbor. As we claim who we are now, and act out of our own sense of what is true and real, we can be God’s people gifted with a sense of call to make a difference in the ordinariness of our lives.

The question is, “How do we go about the task of re-centering so that we can claim our callings for a “today” that is in many ways a stranger to us?” This is the central question for this series.

This Centered Life Series will be held via Zoom during the last Wednesday in January and the first three Wednesdays of February, which are January 25, February 1,8,15. The time is over the lunch hour from Noon-1:15 p.m. central time, as we have done previously.

Each session of this series will draw on an aspect of reflective practice and experiential education that is central to an Augsburg education.

There is no cost for the series. Registration is free of charge.

Registration will be available in December. If you’re interested in joining us, please fill out this short online form and we will follow up with an email when registration is open.

Please tell your friends and your community of faith about this opportunity. We hope you will be able to join us for this series!


Jack Fortin, Senior Fellow, Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University

The Winter 2023 Centered Life Series: Re-Centering to Claim Our Call for Today

A four-week Zoom series, each Wednesday from 12 pm – 1:15 pm

Wednesday, January 25 – Journey map: your life’s timeline – Elaine Eschenbacher and Jack Fortin

People in their retirement years often experience an identity crisis. As work lives shift, life’s purpose can become unclear. In this session we will learn about vocation portfolios that Augsburg undergraduates are creating to discern and articulate their purpose, and engage in a life timeline reflection exercise. We think this process works well also for any stage in life and that you will find it equally helpful.


Wednesday, February 1 – Reflecting on life experiences as a way to learn and re-center – Elaine Eschenbacher

In the first session of this year’s Centered Life Series the life timeline exercise gave participants a broad overview of the key experiences that shaped their lives. In this session we’ll use experiential education pedagogy to reflect deeply on one life experience in a new way.


Wednesday, February 8 – Mentors and coaches: how they shape us and how we shape others

Parker Palmer writes that “the ancient human question ‘Who am I?’ leads inevitably to the equally important question ‘Whose am I?” Outside of relationships with others, there is no self. In this session we will examine the role of mentors and guides in our lives, and what it means to be a mentor for others.


Wednesday, February 15 – Re-centering our sense of call after disruption – Jeremy Myers

This final session will feature Dr. Jeremy Myers, Bernard M. Christensen Chair in Religion and Vocation who will discuss the theological sense of calling.


Registration will be available in December. If you’re interested in joining us, please fill out this short online form and we will follow up with an email when registration is open.

Past Events

The Fall 2018 Centered Life Series

Click here for online registration for these and other events.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018: Dr. Marty Stortz, “Calling in the Third Age: Breaking and Re-Making”

Calling in the latter stages of the life cycle all too often takes place amidst a litany of losses: loss of loved ones, loss of job or career, loss of income, loss of bodily function. But the vocational questions have not changed; they’re just inflected differently. Drawing on the wisdom of scripture and real-life illustrations, this talk explores those questions: Who am I? Who are my people? What will I do with my “one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)

Held at Luther Seminary from noon-1:15 pm. Registration is $15.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018: Rev. Dr. Jack Fortin, “Living on the Brink: The Courage to Be Fully Alive in the Third Chapter of life”

We will be discovering together how to live in the tension between “Gravity and Grace”. Facing the limitations of “Gravity” on the one hand, which is pulling our physical bodies down, while receiving the gift of “Grace”, which is lifting our spirits up, setting us free to live with a renewed sense of calling and purpose.

Held at Luther Seminary from noon-1:15 pm. Registration is $15.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018: Dr. Paul Pribbenow: “Vocation 2.0”

Come and explore how our Lutheran colleges and universities have made the theological concept of vocation – one of the central gifts of our Lutheran Christian tradition – the center of their academic missions. We will discuss how our Lutheran understanding of vocation offers a powerful counter-message to the cultural expectation that we are always called to upwardly mobile, individual trajectories in our lives. Of relevance to those of us in the “third age,” our discussion will focus both on how Vocation 2.0 is important to our vocational journeys and how we can help support future generations of faithful folks called to service in the world.

Held at Luther Seminary from noon-1:15 pm. Registration is $15.


The Winter 2019 Centered Life Series

Three Sessions by Rev. Mark Hanson on A Personal Third-Chapter Challenge: “Discovering call amidst memory loss in the context of cultural and religious diversity for the sake of the neighbor”

Sessions will be held at Luther Seminary in the Olson Center, Room 10

$15 per session or $45 for the series. A group registration of 10 people receives a 20% discount.

Mark HansonWednesday, February 13, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.: Session One

“God’s call to serve when memory fades and love endures: personal reflections.” It has been eight years since the diagnosis of memory loss became a reality in our lives. How does this reality shape our discerning God’s call?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.: Session Two

“Our shared baptismal calling in a polarized culture.” How shall we live as a community in Christ shaped by memory, witnessing to signs of God’s promised future and immersed in this present rapidly changing and often deeply conflicted context?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.: Session Three

“God’s call to be neighbor: our shared vocation in a world of religious pluralism.” Drawing upon Lutheran theological themes, leadership experiences and the dynamic community of Augsburg University, we will explore how will live as people of Christian faith in contexts of religious diversity including with those who self-define in other than religious categories.

The Spring 2019 Centered Life Series

Three Sessions by Rev. Dr. Rollie Martinson on Elders Rising: The Promise And Peril of Elderhood: “Vital and Resilient Aging: Living Well and Making a Difference”

Sessions will be held at Luther Seminary in the Olson Center, Room 10

$15 per session or $45 for the series. A group registration of 10 people receives a 20% discount.

Roland MartinsonWednesdays, May 1, May 8, and May 15, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.

An “age wave” of enormous proportions and life-changing-impact is washing over us. Understanding this “age wave” provides older adults and those closest to them more options for greater vitality and resiliency. Participants will come to better understand aging and develop their own “pathway” of quality life during their senior years. Congregational and community leaders will discover how their organizations can become centers of expansive elder wellness and empowerment.


The Fall 2019 Centered Life Series

Sarah and MikeThree Sessions by Rev. Mike Carlson and Rev. Sarah Breckenridge

Our biblical narrative is filled with stories of transition, from Old Testament to New Testament, we see biblical figures wrestle with Who am I?  Who is God?  Where do I belong?  Come join us as we explore the basic questions of Identity that have stood the test of time and discover together how best to navigate those transitions in our own lives that prompt and shape our reliance on God’s grace.

Sessions will be held at Luther Seminary in the Olson Center, Room 10 on Wednesdays, October 9, 16, and 23, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.

$15 per session or $45 for the series (register online or at the door). A group registration of 10 people receives a 20% discount (redeemable only at the door)

About Rev. Sarah Breckenridge

A graduate of Luther Seminary, Rev. Breckenridge has a long history of working in youth ministry. She taught religion at the Lyceum (High School) in Bratislava, Slovakia, served as a pastor at St. Michael’s in Roseville, was chair of the candidacy committee for Saint Paul Area Synod and was the chaplain at St. Andrew’s Academy. She is currently the executive pastor at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church. Rev. Breckenridge enjoys spending time in the beauty of creation, from hiking to biking to skiing. In fact, during major transitions in her life, she has found her times in nature to be a significant healing agent.

About Rev. Mike Carlson

Rev. Mike Carlson has served the past four years as lead pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, an 8,000-member congregation in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He has been on staff at St. Andrew’s for 10 years, including as executive pastor for six years, and he has more than 30 years of ministry experience. Rev. Carlson attended the University of Minnesota – Duluth, where he pursued a degree in philosophy and is a graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He served as associate pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where he was responsible for education, evangelism, and social ministry and youth ministry. He was a chaplain for the Grand Itasca Hospital and taught World Religions at Itasca Community College. In addition, he has been a speaker, trainer, and consultant for the Youth and Family Institute and has traveled the United States teaching and preaching on the wonders of God’s powerful and transforming love. He lives in White Bear Lake with his wife, Tammy; they have three sons and two dogs. The Carlson family enjoys camping, canoeing, hiking, and good movies.

The Winter 2020 Centered Life Series

Lori Brandt HaleThree Sessions on “This-Worldly Faith: Lessons from Bonhoeffer in Times of Change” by Professor Lori Brandt Hale

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor, theologian, ecumenist, and peace activist. He wrote profoundly about Christian faith, community, grace, and ethics, centered in one way or another on the question, who is Christ for us today? The atrocities of the Nazi Regime, which resulted in unspeakable human suffering, compelled him to participate in a conspiracy that tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Hitler and install a new government that would end the war and those atrocities. Imprisoned during the last two years of his life, Bonhoeffer was executed just weeks before the end of the war. Bonhoeffer’s life and legacy serve as a valuable resource for us today, for asking what It is – in this time and in this place – we are called to do.

Sessions will be held at Luther Seminary in the Olson Center, Room 10 on Wednesdays, February 5, 12, and 19, 2019 from noon to 1:15 p.m.

$15 per session or $45 for the series (register online or at the door). A group registration of 10 people receives a 20% discount (redeemable only at the door)

About Dr. Lori Brandt Hale

Lori Brandt Hale is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion Department at Augsburg University; she is in her 22nd year there. She served as the Director of General Education for five years along the way and also teaches in the Honors and Master of Arts in Leadership Programs. In her disciplinary work, Dr. Brandt Hale specializes in the work and thought of theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, currently serving as the Vice President of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Group of the American Academy of Religion. Her work on Bonhoeffer has led her to think deeply about his ideas related to community, ethics, and vocation. These themes resonate with her students in the class she teaches most often: “Religion, Vocation, and the Search for Meaning II.” Together with her ethnically and religiously diverse students, she explores vocation, civil rights, a variety of world religious traditions, pluralism, and interfaith dialogue. Lori Brandt Hale has degrees from the University of Iowa (BA), University of Chicago Divinity School (MA), and University of Virginia (Ph.D.). She lives in Maplewood, has three awesome boys – ages 22, 16, and 11 – and frequently travels to central Kentucky where her partner, David Hall, teaches (at Centre College). Together, they are editing a book titled, The Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. it should be available in the spring of 2020.


The Winter 2021 Centered Life Series – “Stepping into 2021: Hearts Rekindled, Hope Awakened”

Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

February 10 with David Tiede “Were not our hearts burning within us?” Watch a recording of this event on YouTube.
-We will join the Easter evening “walk to Emmaus” which is beautifully narrated in Luke’s Gospel (24:13-35). Disappointment (“We had hoped”), leads to instruction (“How foolish you are and how slow of heart”), yearning (“Stay with us because it is almost evening”), and disclosure (“Then their eyes were opened”). Hope renewed is God’s calling to bless others and the world.

February 17 with Lois Malcolm “Where is the Holy Spirit amidst Personal, Communal, and National Turmoil?” Watch a recording of this event on YouTube.
-When it comes to talking about the Holy Spirit people tend to claim either too much or too little. How do we discern the Holy Spirit’s presence and activity in our lives–and not just on a personal level, but also on a communal and even a national level? This talk addresses this question by relating biblical themes to our contemporary lives.

February 24 with Terry McGonigal “Hope Reawakened- The Resurrected Jesus Encounters People with Heart-Shattered Lives” Watch a recording of this event on YouTube.
-(John 20-21) The hope of Jesus’s disciples were crushed by his crucifixion. Bewildered, fearful and despairing they do not what to do. In John 20-21 Jesus enters their despondency to address four specific issues- grief, fear, doubt, and shame. This brief reflection will frame these biblical narratives in the light of our own despondency as we face multiple causes of chaos in our divided world today.

March 3 with Martha Stortz “A School of Hope: The Lessons of Caregiving”
-The diagnosis of a terminal illness sent my husband and I into the medicine of scripture, where we found hope, healing, and bread for the journey.

March 10 with Kelly Chatman “Is there a role for congregations in becoming centers for cultural and neighborhood belonging?”
-Changing from a culture of segregation to a culture of belonging. Kelly will share from his book stories from his life as a Black religious leader. The book is a collection of stories describing three stages of development, forming, reforming, and transforming. Forming represents the first time you notice race, culture, difference. Forming is the decision you made based on difference in race, class, or orientation. Transforming is the third stage when we embrace difference, share relationship and, transcend boundaries race, class, and culture.

March 17 with David Stark “Getting through the Covid 19 crisis – A Biblical journey back to freedom”
-The unprecedented event of the Covid 19 crisis has taken many people, including Christians, by surprise. However, the Bible is full of stories of hardship and unforeseen circumstances. For Christians, the answers to questions about such events have always been found in God and His Word. In Exodus, the people of Israel were dealing with a crisis of their own. When relief finally did come, it was not as they expected. The journey was long and arduous, situations got worse before they got better, and it seemed, at times, that there was no end in sight. During that time, the Israelites relied on their faith in God and in the miracles He performed in their lives to assure them of His love and commitment to them. This workshop will use situations that the Israelites went through to draw a roadmap to how Christians today can overcome the difficulties they are facing during the Covid 19 crisis.



Jeremy Myers photo

Jeremy Myers, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Religion, Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation

Jeremy has been a member of the Religion department at Augsburg University since 2006 with specific responsibilities for facilitating the University’s Theology and Public Leadership degree program, the Youth Studies minor, and the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute. He has been the Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation since June 2019. Jeremy is a rostered Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has served in the field of ministry with youth and young adults professionally since 1997. His first book, Liberating Youth from Adolescence was published in 2018 by Fortress Press

Kristina Fruge

Kristina Frugé – Managing Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation

Kristina Frugé has been with the Christensen Center for Vocation in various capacities since June 2017. She was the project director for the Riverside Innovation Hub and is now the managing director for the Christensen Center for Vocation. Prior to joining Augsburg’s Riverside Innovation Hub, Kristina spent 15 years working and serving as a social worker, youth director, and community networker at the intersections of congregations and their greater communities. When she asked one of her sons – who was five at the time – if he knew what she did for a living he said, “Yeah Mom, you work for love. That’s what the church does.”



Fruit For Food and Leaves for Healing: A Faith for the Sake of the World

In the 47th chapter of the book of Ezekiel, we encounter a divine tour guide showing Ezekiel around the temple. There is water flowing from the temple towards the wilderness. It grows deeper and wider the further it flows from the temple. Eventually, this water – God’s abundant mercy – brings life to trees of all kinds who produce fruit for food and leaves for healing. Jeremy Myers and Kristina Frugé will guide you through the Christensen Center for Vocation’s Public Church Framework as a method for discerning personal and communal vocation in your particular locations as we all seek to produce the food and the healing our neighbors need.


Wednesday, November 3 – The Church’s Call into the Public Square

An introduction to the theological and theoretical reasons why we – as a church and as individuals – must show up in the public square for the sake of the common good. Recording available


Wednesday, November 10 – The Call to Accompaniment & Interpretation

An introduction to the first two practices (accompaniment and interpretation) that inform the way we become a public church. Recording available.


Wednesday, November 17 – The Call to Discernment & Proclamation

An introduction to the next two practices that shape the way we show up in the public square as co-collaborators with God and our neighbors. Recording available.


Wednesday, November 24 – Your Call into the Public Square

A conversation on what the previous sessions mean for you personally as you seek to live out your Christian faith in the public square for the sake of your neighbor. Recording available.