We often inhabit spaces in person and online where we only interact with folks who primarily look and think and act and practice faith like we do. Unlikely Conversations is a podcast hosted by Collegeville Institute board member Ellie Roscher that features unique and dynamic interviews with writers, thinkers, scholars, and artists affiliated with Collegeville Institute programs.
Season three of Unlikely Conversations asks big questions about meaning, purpose, and the theology of Christian vocation. Tune in to hear conversations with theologians, church leaders, and clergy in the Communities of Calling Initiative.
Episode 1 – Bringing Calling Back to Life
A Conversation with Dr. Kathleen Cahalan
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.
Episode 2 – A Multiplicity of Callings: Skills Sharing at St. Matthew’s Church
A Conversation with Rev. Benjamin Hart and Dr. Justin Klassen
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.
Episode 3 – Embracing Communal Callings: Service at St. Matthew’s Church
A Conversation with Rev. Kelly Kirby and Lynn Miller
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.
Episode 4 – Called Through Community at Edgewood Church
A Conversation with Pastor Liz Miller
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 of Christ 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.
Episode 5 – Invited to Mission at Edgewood Church
A Conversation with Marcia Beer and Diana Farmer
Think of a significant calling in your life. Who invited you to explore that calling? And what role did church play (if any) 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.