Please Think of Our Campus

5 University of Michigan

CW: Mass Shootings

It has been a very challenging few days in Ann Arbor. On Sunday, students and community members gathered in the University of Michigan Diag to surround and support the local Muslim community. Together, people were holding a vigil to honor the victims of the two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and to speak against Islamophobia.

During the vigil, while someone was reading a poem, people saw and heard a police officer shouting, “Move, move, move! Go, go, go!” and everyone ran in a panic to try to hide. Some went straight into Mason Hall, then shortly after going inside, received an active shooter alert that there could be shooter in Mason Hall. The scene was very chaotic and confusing. Most of all, it was terrifying. Students and community members hid for hours.

A few hours later, everyone learned there was no shooter. There have been some reports of people popping balloons…? But much is unclear. All the folks I’ve talked to, including those who have written publicly about their experience, never heard popping sounds. They just heard and saw the police officers, then fled. There are still lots of questions about how it all happened.

Thankfully, there was no shooter.

At the same time, though the most serious threat was not really present, the experience was very real. People feared for their lives and their loved ones. Our Muslim neighbors gathered to grieve and express their pain and fear, only to have their fears realized.

Please think of our community this week. This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:

Thinking about all the lost sleep in Ann Arbor this week and how difficult it is to rest and feel grounded after a traumatic event.

Care and solidarity most especially to the Muslim community, at the center of this pain. ❤️

Care for all bodies that feel jumpy, afraid, unrested, and ungrounded.

Care for the ones who say internally, “but I’m not supposed to feel this way,” and keep pushing and powering on. It’s okay to feel this way. We’re allowed.

Care for the ones who have experienced new trauma this week overlaid on top of the grooves of old trauma — all of it manifesting now as it is processed internally and physically in the present.

Care toward the choices we make to surround and resource our most vulnerable neighbors, our communities, and ourselves.

May everyone have what they need today, and may everyone be able to say, “I don’t have it yet.”


Renee Roederer

Set Aside Some Time to Watch This

[Photo Credit: NEXT Church Website, National Gathering Page. Image description: Colorful threads stretch out at a diagonal, and they are half-woven together. In white text, there are the words: “Woven Together — Stories of Dissonance, Sacrifice & Liberation”]

Hello, friends. I’m back from the NEXT Church National Gathering in Seattle. What a wonderful, full, thought-provoking, emotion-provoking, idea-provoking time!

This week, I said that I would share some thoughts about our time together, but rather than do some summarizing, I’d like to resource you toward primary sources.

One such source is a phenomenal, necessary talk from Dr. Jennifer Harvey. Drawing from the story of Ruth, she asks over and over again, “Who are your people?” and calls us toward acts of advocacy, solidarity, support, and restitution for communities harmed by centuries of racism and oppression.

Set some time aside and watch the whole thing. I think it will move you, as it did us.

Dr. Jennifer Harvey: Who Are Your People?

This includes a talk and a time of Q&A.

Renee Roederer

Next Church


[Photo Credit: NEXT Church Website, National Gathering Page. Image description: Colorful threads stretch out at a diagonal, and they are half-woven together. In white text, there are the words: “Woven Together — Stories of Dissonance, Sacrifice & Liberation”]

This week, I’m in Seattle for the national gathering of Next Church. Next Church is a conference and a movement within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that seeks to ponder and act upon new visions for Church and collective life. As a part of this movement, we ponder innovation, community-building, and concerns of justice in our church, neighborhoods, and world. Who are we, and who are we called to become?

Over the next few days, I’ll share some of what I’m learning here. But for now, if you’d like to learn more about all of this, come visit this page.

And wherever you are, and whatever you’re pondering today, I hope that you are stretched and encouraged, just as we are!

Renee Roederer

I Can’t Stop Watching the Queen Live Aid Performance


[Photo Credit: Youtube. Image Description: Freddie Mercury is standing in the middle of a stage, wearing a white tank top and light colored jeans. He’s holding a microphone and facing an enormous crowd of people. This photo is taken from behind him.]

If you’ve also seen the movie, you might recognize my title above as the next logical step after viewing Bohemian Rhapsody, the recent film about the band Queen and the life of Freddie Mercury. The film begins and ends with the 1985 Live Aid performance, and Rami Malek, who played Freddie Mercury, just won an Academy Award for Best Actor — in part, because he nailed every single movement and mannerism of Freddie Mercury during that particular concert.

After watching the movie, I watched the Youtube of the 1985 performance, and now, I just keep watching it here and there. I had seen portions of it before, but this was the first time I’ve watched it in its entirety.

The performance is so very embodied. Freddie Mercury is just so physical up there as he feels the music and directs it. One of my favorite movements happens a couple of times when he cuts off the music of the band with a huge flourish, ending with his arm in the air.

But also, the dancing is so great.

I think what I love is that he’s just… so fully alive up there. So completely in his element, seeming to enjoy the music he created years ago so thoroughly while crafting a moment in the present that is now probably one of the best live performances in common memory.

There are many ways to be fully alive and in our element. Our way, in fact, might be very different. But I can’t help but think about this. When I watch this phenomenal performance, I desire this aliveness for myself and others.

Renee Roederer


Saying Goodbye to Uncompensated Labor


For Lent, I’m giving up uncompensated labor. ❤️

I don’t say this with snark, but rather, with intention. I think this is one of the most important decisions I’ve made for myself in a while.

I’m funded at about 1/3 time this year (the most funding I’ve had in this work so far! Really grateful for it too). So I’m going to start working 1/3 time with my 1/3 time Community Chaplaincy position. Plus, I’ll add a bit of time for other gigs and community projects.

I’m going to spend the rest of my time doing some personal care work and preparing myself for future part-time position/(s) I hope to add to Community Chaplaincy.

This feels really good.

I’m choosing this beyond Lent as well. But as a practice for these forty days, I’m going to learn how to prioritize so I can do in this the best way. I love all the things I do, but I have to choose the most important priorities and let the rest fall away. I also need to let myself rest too.

So here we go! Wish me well!

Renee Roederer

As for the other things I hope to add…

— If you’re looking for someone to lead gigs (retreats, workshops, keynoting, writing) I am so enthusiastically up for that.

— If you read my writing frequently, appreciate it, and want to give a gift to support that work, you can do that here:

— If you want to support the vision of Michigan Nones and Dones and this role of Community Chaplaincy among students, I am deeply grateful to have partners in this work. It means a lot. In that case, email me at

Love to all of you. Thanks for supporting me in this decision and much more, for being a really great community of people in my life.

Ash Wednesday: The Love We Cannot Lose

Ash Wednesday

I suppose I’ve had an intriguing relationship with Ash Wednesday over the years. At times, the day has intersected with some challenging moments and chapters in our lives.

I’ve participated in Ash Wednesday. . .
. . . on the very day an opportunity fell through, and we learned we wouldn’t be making a move we really wanted,
. . . on a day when I was acutely aware I was about to lose a job,

and most challenging,
. . . on the exact date that one of the most beloved people of my life received a terminal cancer diagnosis.

In the Lenten tradition, Ash Wednesday serves as a recognition of impermanence and our own mortality. In various chapters of my life, the date has intersected with real occasions for grief.

And Ash Wednesday can be a powerful tradition:

On one hand, the day can provide an opportunity to feel something cathartic. In our broader culture, we often push away public expressions of grief. There aren’t enough occasions to honor our pain and the pain of others in visible ways. But on Ash Wednesday, people actually wear that pain and acknowledge it in each other’s presence.

And there there is a real expression of hope within this tradition too. Pain, grief, and mortality — real as they are — are not always the final word. In times of great anxiety, we can lean upon one another in speaking this hope:

No matter what we fear,
No matter what we lose,
No matter what we hear,
No matter what we’ve done,
No matter how we’ve failed,
No matter how we’ve been failed,
No matter what has been done to us,

We are loved with a LOVE we cannot lose.

I really do believe that.

And in a time of fear, grief, and anxiety, we can believe and display that every human being is absolutely Beloved — that each and all are worth the Love that forms their being.

Even in the face of death itself, it’s a truth that can be lived.

Renee Roederer