October 12, 2021
How do we understand God’s calling when not everyone has access to the same networks, resources, or opportunities?
In this episode, practical theologian Dr. Patrick B. Reyes speaks about his new book, The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive. Reyes writes about his own childhood neighborhood, which he describes as an education desert. He flips the white, western script of individual “shining stars,” and expands our view to see calling in terms of whole constellations.
September 28, 2021
Think of a significant calling in your life. Who invited you to explore that calling? And what role did community play in that invitation?
As a community, Edgewood United Church has been collectively invited by God to serve their neighbors through a specific, shared mission. In this episode, Marcia Beer and Diana Farmer speak how their community collectively discerned a common purpose. They also discuss how the pandemic disrupted and refocused their ministry in surprising ways.
Edgewood is one of thirteen congregations taking part in Collegeville Institute’s Communities of Calling Initiative. The Communities of Calling Initiative is a five-year program that grants congregations funds to design a new project or enhance existing ministries that help Christians discover and deepen their sense of God’s calling in their lives.
September 14, 2021
What role does community play in understanding our individual vocation? And what happens when a pastor called to ministry starts to burn out?
In this episode, Liz Miller describes how community played an essential role in her decision to become a pastor, and how sabbath rest is essential to sustaining her ministry at Edgewood United Church in East Lansing, Michigan. She also explains how the church community asks itself not who they are going to serve, but who they are called to be because of where they are located. Edgewood is one of thirteen congregations doing a deep dive into personal and communal vocation with the Collegeville Institute’s Communities of Calling Initiative.
August 31, 2021
Some Christians have profound testimonies about how God has called them; but, it’s not everyone’s experience. More often, God calls whole communities to big things, not individuals. How can congregations invite members of all ages to embrace God's call to serve their neighbors?
In this episode, Pastor Kelly Kirby and Lynn Miller from Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY tell the story of how God called their church to step out in faith and start a food ministry. They also discuss the challenges and blessings of running the food pantry during the pandemic, which became an important place of connection for youth and adults alike.
St. Matthew’s is one of thirteen congregations taking part in Collegeville Institute’s Communities of Calling Initiative. The Communities of Calling Initiative is a five-year program that grants congregations funds to design a new project or enhance existing ministries that help Christians discover and deepen their sense of God’s calling in their lives.
August 3, 2021
Does the phrase "God's calling" make you tense? If so, you're not alone. Many Christians confuse calling with discovering one secret "right" path in life. When faced with multiple options and decisions, it can be paralyzing.
According to Dr. Kathleen Cahalan, this individualistic view of vocation is often harmful. Instead, she advocates for returning to a more communal understanding of Christian calling where people see their callings first to be communities of faith. In this episode, Kathleen talks about her research and work to revitalize the language around vocation, equipping both individuals and congregations to experience God's calling in wider and more expansive ways.
We are asking big questions about the theology of Christian calling and vocation during this season of the Unlikely Conversations podcast. Join us every other Tuesday for a new episode where host Ellie Roscher speaks with theologians, church leaders, and clergy in the Collegeville Institute's Communities of Calling Initiative about how they practice vocation as a dynamic verb rather than a static noun.
February 24, 2021
When working to undo one type of oppression, activists often see how other types of oppression intersect.
Nekeisha Alayna Alexis is an Anabaptist scholar whose writing addresses issues of justice for both human and animals. In this conversation, she describes how her conviction to nonviolence evolved into her interest in co-liberation with animals and becoming a vegan. She also discusses her role in leading anti-racism efforts within the context of a seminary and why joy is at the foundation of her work.
February 12, 2021
On the surface, welcoming an immigrant seems kind. Karen Gonzalez asks Christians to look again and push deeper.
Karen Gonzalez is a writer, speaker, and immigrant advocate. She is the author of The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. In this conversation, Karen describes how her writing and theology has shifted since attending the 2019 Writing for Mystic Activists writing workshop at the Collegeville Institute. Writing can be a form of activism, and it can also be a way to live out a calling to collective liberation.
January 27, 2021
What compels a decorated combat veteran and former missions pastor to study mysticism at a center founded by Fr. Richard Rohr?
Byron McMillan's story is one of spiritual transformation and realignment, moving from his role as pastor at an evangelical megachurch in Raleigh, North Carolina to studying at the Center for Contemplation and action in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In this podcast interview, Byron discusses his journey following a mystical Jesus. He also describes how contemplative practices, including writing, have changed his faith and outlook on the world.
January 13, 2021
Community organizing is often hard and contentious work. How can people stay committed when the world is chaotic?
In this episode, writer and congregational organizer Nicholas Tangen describes how observing the natural world is connected to his work for justice within the ELCA church. Nicholas has relied on birdwatching as a spiritual practice during the pandemic and in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing in his city of Minneapolis. He also speaks about how Benedictine spirituality has been important in his work for justice.