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Faith and the journey of learning

Augsburg College to host two events exploring a modern Lutheran understanding of vocation

Looking for ways to engage Lutherans of all ages in purposeful activity will be on the minds of attendees at the Education for Vocation Conference held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis October 31-November 1. The conference is to emphasize that there is a calling for people at every age in the life spectrum. The message is that vocation is a life-long journey.

Educators from 26 Lutheran colleges across the nation were invited to the conference developed with financial support from a Lilly Endowment grant. Participants include Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Craig Dykstra, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment. Presidents of nine of the 26 Lutheran colleges, as well as other representatives from those and other schools, planned to attend.

Dr. Thomas Morgan, Augsburg College

“Augsburg College is becoming internationally known as ‘a college with a calling.’”

Much of the event planning at Augsburg was headed by Dr. Thomas Morgan, executive director, Center for Faith and Learning. Morgan, who has been at Augsburg 28 years, said the conference is aimed at developing conversations about vocation as a life-long journey, and discovering a gift, a calling, a birthright.

Recalling an agricultural practice of “fallow” time for resting farm fields, Morgan commented, “We can’t afford ‘fallow’ time in our lives.” There are so many needs ranging from just being a friend to someone to serving as a mentor for kids to countless other ways of living a purposeful life.”

Topics for various conference sessions reflect the central theme. In one presentation, Greg Owen of Wilder Research has as his topic “Called for Life,” a study of the impact of Lilly Endowment Vocation Grants. Another session focused on vocation efforts on campuses without Lilly program grants.

In a session on the “Potential of Vocation” as a long-term strategy, representatives of Pacific Lutheran, Concordia College, and Luther College (all ELCA) will look at vocation’s impact on alumni and donors, funding alternatives, and missional identity.

In a wrap-up session, Dr. Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg, will address “Where Do We Go from Here?” The emphasis will be on how the colleges can continue this effort and learn from one another as well as expand partnerships beyond the ELCA to include the Council of Independent Colleges, NetVUE, and Jesuit institutions which are also advocating the concept of life-long vocation.

The vocation of a college

Augsburg is also involved in a vocational effort among its own alumni. Morgan noted that this program, “Called to Serve,” is also built around the concept of vocation as a life-long journey.

Morgan had this to say about “Called to Serve”: “Augsburg College is becoming internationally known as ‘a college with a calling’ as students, staff, and faculty probe deeply into ‘Christian Vocation and the Search for Meaning.’ Augsburg alumni who have been living their vocations for decades have much to teach the college and each other. The world is filled with workshops on managing our finances for retirement, but where is the Christian wisdom to understand and live out our vocations in the last third of our lives? Are you thinking about your life? Wondering how you can make a difference? The Center for Faith and Learning and the Center for Leadership Studies at Augsburg College are offering a seminar to explore these and other questions related to our lifelong journeys of vocation.”

The “Called to Serve” seminar for Augsburg alumni and friends is scheduled for three Tuesdays — November 2, 9, and 16 — at the Christenson Center at Augsburg College.

For example, at the November 2 session there will be an exploration of Martin Luther’s conviction about “The Freedom of the Christian” as a calling to serve. The second session, November 9, will look at the stages of life and career along with difficult issues including health, money, and death. The third and final session will look at how individuals can best invest their time.

For more information about the upcoming program, contact Thomas Morgan at 612/382-5724 or by e-mail at morgan@augsburg.edu.

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