Every year, Emerging Prairie works to support and grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem. One way they do this is through their cohorts, which are 16-week programs designed to help companies ensure that they are being built upon a firm foundation.
Just like emerging Prairie, we at Fargo INC! want to celebrate and support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. That’s why we teamed up with them to introduce you to a number of entrepreneurs involved in their cohorts!
Red River Scripture Circles is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit in the Fargo-Moorhead are bringing together community members for conversations about Faith. Jennifer Schillinger and Noah Ullman participated in Emerging Prairie’s cohort.
Jennifer is passionate about community, experience- based learning and mentorship. Following an undergraduate degree in Education, Communication Studies and Psychology, she received her Master’s
in Counseling and Student Affairs from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). With 10+ years of teaching and facilitation experience, Jennifer has worked as an Academic and Career Counselor, Programs Director for The Barry Foundation, owner of Strengths Advantage, a training and strategic facilitation consulting company, and Co-Founder of She Overcomes, a local female entrepreneurship accelerator. Ever the learner, she is currently pursuing a Masters in Global Theology and studying Hebrew.
Noah Ullman is a traveling Scripture teacher. He is a disciple of his father, Rabbi Alan Ullman. Since formally beginning this journey with his father in January of 2016, he has traveled the United States, Europe, Israel, and Africa immersing in different communities with a heart for God and where the Spirit is leading. Noah has and is currently teaching Scripture in California, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, Washington, Ireland, England, Portugal, Belgium, Israel and Nigeria. Before teaching Scripture, Noah worked as an Executive Legislative Assistant in the Washington State Senate.
What does your organization do?
Red River Scripture Circles creates an honoring space where each person connects and grows through facilitated exploration of life’s questions and scripture. We are unique in that our discussions draw from the original Biblical Hebrew in Old Testament writings, which displays the foundational meaning and also the layers of complexity just waiting to be uncovered in the text! Facilitators fill in the historical and contextual picture while inviting participants to explore the practical principles that address life’s questions.
Every circle starts with each person sharing something they are thinking about, from what people share, a few passages are selected that fit the themes, participants vote on what they want to study, and the conversation begins.
We have partnered with businesses, churches, and nonprofit organizations to facilitate studies as a meditative team-building exercise. We also hold open sessions which provide exciting cross- denominational and interfaith spaces of conversation which are unique in our community. These shared spaces of conversation help build connections and a deeper faith conversation among people who would not otherwise engage outside of the walls of their traditional faith community. We are not a replacement for church, rather a community- based way to explore and build a deeper understanding of yourself and God.
Our next open sessions will be held May 12th – 18th. Check out our podcast and register for sessions at scripturecircles.com
How did you get into what you are doing/how and why did you form your organization?
Red River Scripture Circles started with a few people traveling to the Twin Cities to attend some circles facilitated by Alan and Noah Ullman. Heartland Community Church started inviting them to facilitate some studies in their community. When the conversations expanded to others in Fargo-Moorhead, we realized so many people were curious and interested in exploring life’s questions and faith in this exciting new way! Based on this growing interest, we decided to create a nonprofit that would be accessible to all regardless of faith background and have since started training up local facilitators to create more access to these great studies!
What drives you?
I am passionate about community and creating honoring spaces where people feel heard and seen. Our busy lives are filled with the pursuit of more success, and the pressure of efficiency. We all need spaces where we slow down, ask big challenging questions, explore purpose and connect with people in a rich, authentic way. There is no other faith conversation like those facilitated in Red River Scripture Circles! Conversations are deep, meaningful, and challenging and facilitators are encouraging and uplifting. Everyone needs honoring community, and I’m excited Red River Scripture Circles provides a space where all are welcome to join the conversation. Seeing personal and community transformation through meaningful conversations about faith and life’s big questions is what drives me.
What did you learn from the cohort?
The cohort helped clarify our purpose and facilitated connections with a diverse community of talented and passionate people dedicated to community growth.
What else should we know about you/your organization?
Our circles are hosted in public spaces like coffee shops and also in homes. We are always looking for people and businesses to host a conversation! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs out there?
Do it messy first! Perfect, especially for female entrepreneurs, is the enemy of good. Sometimes you need to take massive imperfect action to generate momentum. Then look at every unexpected setback as an opportunity to iterate and improve. Done beats perfect, especially when perfect is impossible, and can stop you from launching.
Even though all of the entrepreneurs in this article were part of the Women’s Cohort and the Social Entrepreneur Cohort, Emerging Prairie also hosts a New American Cohort and will be kicking off a Native American Cohort and Black Founder Cohort soon. Stay tuned to our magazine for future updates on participants in these programs.