Augsburg Fortress
One Mission Blog - reflections on the ministry of publishing

“In These or Similar Words” published!

June 29th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

Last week, we published a fine new worship planning resource, In These or Similar Words: Crafting Language for Worship.

This resource was published to help guide individuals and groups who wish to prepare new worship texts for their communities.

It includes:

  • some discussion of foundational principles for evaluating sources of language and images used in such texts;
  • individual and group exercises to identify and describe your local worshiping community’s makeup, values, and sensibilities;
  • brief commentaries about “what’s going on” in specific liturgical texts within the services of Holy Communion and Holy Baptism in Evangelical Lutheran Worship;
  • examples of locally crafted language for worship for illustration and inspiration;
  • and reproducible pages with practical tips and helps for the actual process of writing new texts.


This resource, created by a team of fourteen people, has been in the works since January 2013. Here is a description of their work from the book’s preface:

“In January 2013, fourteen people gathered for a three-day writing retreat at the Calvin Center, twenty miles south of Atlanta, Georgia. Those days included worshiping together; talking about liturgy, language, the church, and current cultural contexts; quiet time for writing; and group time for assessing honestly and constructively the writing that was produced. The idea was to develop a body of material that could serve as a practical guide to crafting liturgical language for a specific context, as well as a variety of illustrative examples. This book is the result of that collaborative effort. Everyone who contributed to this resource did so thinking of a variety of local contexts and situations. We composed flexible prayers. We adapted a number of improvisation techniques, as used by musicians, to structure improvised speech. We experimented with fresh language and fine-tuned it. We wrote prayers that minimized the assembly’s reliance on paper.

Everyone involved in the project had a profound respect for the liturgical texts as presented in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, and sought to keep the spirit of these texts at the heart of our work, while also leaning into the freedom and flexibility that are intended in our principal worship resource, but often overlooked in our actual use of it. As a result, the writing process felt less like a typical workshop and much more like worship.”

Augsburg Fortress Sr. Editor Suzanne Burke and Associate Director/Worship and Music in the ELCA churchwide office Scott Weidler served as contributors and co-editors. Here is the talented line-up of pastors, church musicians, liturgists, and worship leaders from a variety of contexts across the ELCA who participated in this retreat and creation of this worship planning resource:

Jennifer Baker-Trinity

Tracey Breashears Schultz

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Suzanne Burke

Erik Christensen

Pam Fickenscher

Paul Friesen-Carper

Jay Gamelin

Scott A. Moore

Peter J. L. Perella

Martin A. Seltz

Kevin Shock

Jared R. Stahler

Scott Weidler

Copies of In These or Similar Words are available for purchase via our website or by calling our sales and service team at 800-328-4648. Or, if you’d like a preview, a free sample is available on our website by clicking the sampler tab.

If you are attending the ELCA Worship Jubilee, Called to be a Living Voice, in Atlanta in July or one of our several Augsburg Fortress Summer Music Clinics, you will be able to purchase copies on site.

Thank you to the team who spent so much time crafting this helpful resource!







Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Augsburg Fortress named as Star Tribune Top Workplace!

June 15th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

In yesterday’s Star Tribune, Augsburg Fortress was named one of the Top Workplaces in Minnesota! As you might imagine, we are delighted with this news!  Here is a link to our press release for this recognition: Augsburg Fortress Top Workplace Press Release

Congratulations and thank you to all of our colleagues who work hard to make this a great place to work!  And, thank you to the Star Tribune and WorkplaceDynamics for this recognition of our efforts!




Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Ecumenical CoLABoration!

June 8th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

Last week, it was my great joy to be a presenter at the Virginia Theological Seminary’s eFormation gathering hosted by their Center for the Ministry of Teaching.  I so enjoyed speaking in two workshops, each offered twice to this widely ecumenical gathering of church leaders; “Congregational Hospitality” and “Behind the Scenes in Curricula Development at sparkhouse.” I can’t begin to tell you how touching it was to connect with these talented, passionate leaders from all across the Church as they shared their joys, concerns and hopes for faith formation in the 21st century using both traditional and digital tools and techniques! And, it was so affirming to hear so many statements affirming the fine work of my sparkhouse colleagues from pastors, CE directors, and other congregational leaders who use our curricula with the children, youth and adults they serve.  Because the largest group of attendees were from The Episcopal Church, I especially heard praise for Whirl, our Revised Common Lectionary, video-centered Sunday School curriculum.  But, I also heard kudos for Holy Moly, Connect, Echo the Story, re:form, animate, and Spark!  When I announced at each workshop that we are launching Sparkhouse Family in August, I received applause and saw lots of smiling faces in each group of workshop attendees. If you’d like to learn more about the eFormation event, here are links to some of the digital activity from the gathering:

Then, on Saturday morning after I had arrived home, I received this fun email from one of the members of the Augsburg Fortress Board of Trustees, Susan Worst:

“Dear Beth:

I’m a voting member at the New England Synod Assembly this year. One of yesterday’s speakers was Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. She was talking about all of the things that Episcopalians and Lutherans had in common, and as an example, referred to the “Martin Luther Says” wheel from coLABorate that was on the Augsburg Fortress exhibit table downstairs. One question asks, “What do you do when the youth set fire to the carpet in the youth room AGAIN”? Martin Luther’s answer is that, if you don’t have any water, beer works just as well. Bishop Gayle added that, in the Episcopalian version, vodka works just as well!

Rev. Laura Everett, head of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, posted to Twitter about this, complete with picture.

Thought you would want to know. Feel free to share!


Here are Rev. Laura Everett’s tweets:



So, while CoLABorate is a Lutheran confirmation resource, it is great to see our ecumenical partners enjoying our “humor meets faith” spirit!



Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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