Unlikely Conversations from the Collegeville Institute
Addressing the Purpose Gap with Dr. Patrick B. Reyes

Addressing the Purpose Gap with Dr. Patrick B. Reyes

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.

Invited to Mission at Edgewood Church: A Conversation with Marcia Beer and Diana Farmer

Invited to Mission at Edgewood Church: A Conversation with Marcia Beer and Diana Farmer

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.

 

Called Through Community at Edgewood Church

Called Through Community at Edgewood Church

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.

Embracing Communal Callings: Service at St. Matthew’s Church

Embracing Communal Callings: Service at St. Matthew’s Church

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.

A Multiplicity of Callings: Skills Sharing at St. Matthew’s Church

A Multiplicity of Callings: Skills Sharing at St. Matthew’s Church

August 17, 2021

Vocation is often understood as what we do for work, but God calls people to more than our place of employment. Can God's calling extend to skills or hobbies like bread baking, gardening, or cake decorating?

Leaders at St. Matthew Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky decided to find out by inviting individuals in their church to offer a course on something they love to do. In this episode, Pastor Benjamin Hart and Professor Justin Klassen discuss how the skills sharing classes at St. Matthew's transformed their understanding of God's calling in both their personal lives and the greater church community.

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.

Bringing Calling Back to Life: A Conversation with Dr. Kathleen Cahalan

Bringing Calling Back to Life: A Conversation with Dr. Kathleen Cahalan

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.

Undoing Oppressions: A Conversation with Nekeisha Alayna Alexis

Undoing Oppressions: A Conversation with Nekeisha Alayna Alexis

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.

Welcome is Not Enough: A Conversation with Karen Gonzalez

Welcome is Not Enough: A Conversation with Karen Gonzalez

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.

Following a Mystical Jesus: A Conversation with Byron McMillan

Following a Mystical Jesus: A Conversation with Byron McMillan

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.

Consider the Birds: A Conversation on Community Organizing with Nicholas Tangen

Consider the Birds: A Conversation on Community Organizing with Nicholas Tangen

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.

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