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

Unique Lutheran and Roman Catholic Publication Partnership

February 9th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

We are delighted to announce the completion of a new resource, written by a gifted team of church leaders, three ELCA writers and three Roman Catholic writers, and co-published by Augsburg Fortress and Liturgical Press!

One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ encourages congregations and other faith groups to explore experiences and activities that Catholics and Lutherans share and that connect to the living of their faith in embodied ways: breathing, eating, singing, forgiving, serving and dying.  We expect that this resource will be used within individual communities of faith and, it is our hope, that some Lutheran and Catholic congregational groups will explore this work in partnership with one another.

OneHope

This resource is unique in another way.  The collaborative concepting, brainstorming and much of the writing was done in a one-week Book Sprint, hosted by Liturgical Press and Augsburg Fortress, and led by Book Sprint founder Adam Hyde.

For more information about this resource, please see our joint press release and information about One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ on our website.  It is available via paperback from our website or as an eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other eBook retailers.

Blessings,

Beth

@bethalewis

ceo@augsburgfortress.org

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Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Stories of Lenten Devotions

February 8th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

My colleagues across Augsburg Fortress and the many creative partners with whom we work across the Church strive to create resources that will resonate in a wide range of settings.  Our goal is to create and deliver helpful tools to enhance faith formation and worship and to build communities of faith.

As we near Lent, we have received a number of touching stories about how communities of faith, some in traditional congregational settings and some in other gatherings, plan to use our small Lenten devotional, Grace and Peace: Devotions for Lent 2015.

Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, IL used our 2014 Lenten devotional, Too Deep for Words.  They had such a positive experience with it that they purchased copies of Grace and Peace for this year.  In fact, they are even basing their mid-week worship during Lent around the scripture texts in Grace and Peace.  Here is the front cover of their congregational newsletter inviting members and friends into this Lenten experience.

 

GraceNotes

But, congregations aren’t the only communities finding Grace and Peace to be a helpful resource.  VMP Manor Park recently ordered quantities of both our regular and large print editions of Grace and Peace.  Upon seeing this order come through, Augsburg Fortress marketer Eric Vollen did a bit of follow up.  He recently sent me this email, “Curious who they were, I discovered that VMP is a senior healthcare system in Milwaukee ‘that provides a full continuum of care, including independent living apartment rentals, assisted care, nursing care, rehabilitation services, physician clinics and ventilator care.’ Their mission is ‘to provide a full range of senior healthcare for residents, patients and the community in accordance with Christian values.’”

Eric went on to report, “I called VMP Manor Park, and had a great conversation with Chaplain Meg Lybeck-Smoak, director of pastoral care and an ordained UMC pastor. I asked how they learned about Grace and Peace, and Meg was fairly certain that one of their four full-time chaplains discovered it through social media (likely a Facebook post). They had been looking for a Lenten devotional for use in their weekly worship, as well as in group devotional studies, and they loved the Grace and Peace offerings; in particular, the book of the Bible—Ephesians—the particular emphases, and the visual imagery. 

In addition to worshiping on Sundays, VMP also holds worship services at the start of a new church season, so on Ash Wednesday, they’ll distribute Grace and Peace to the residents gathered, with an encouragement to take an extra copy to share with a loved one. They’ll use Grace and Peace as a common framework for their worship, and as a way of uniting residents together as they journey through the Lenten season.

Founded in the 1950s by the UMC, VMP (formerly known as the Village at Manor Park) is more of an ecumenical organization now with a large span of traditions, the majority of their residents identifying as Christian.”

Thank you, Eric, for sharing this wonderful story.  And, thank you to VMP, Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, and the many, many other faith communities who are journeying through Lent with Grace and Peace as a devotional guide.

For several years, we have published small Lenten devotionals like Grace and Peace.  They have grown in popularity each year, so we keep adding to the print runs!  This year, we are already sold out of the regular edition.  But, there is good news for those of you who have procrastinated or just learned about it.  We have another print run ordered and expect them to arrive for shipping to our customers by no later than February 13.  So, if you order yours quickly, you’ll still have time to receive them before Ash Wednesday on February 18.  But, quantities will be limited even with this re-order, so they are available on a first come, first served basis according to the date/time stamp on your order.  We do still have some quantities of the large print edition in stock, but once that inventory is exhausted, those will no longer be available.

Grace and Peace is also available as an eBook through your favorite eBook retailer.

Thank you to my colleagues and our creative partners, David Miller, Jennifer Clark Tinker, and Jennifer Baker-Trinity who put this fine devotional together for the Church.

 

Blessings,

Beth

@bethalewis

ceo@augsburgfortress.org


Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Professional Development for Congregational Leaders

January 8th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

Happy New Year!  I gave up New Year’s resolutions a number of years ago.  But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t set goals for myself each year!  And, at Augsburg Fortress, one of the four key measures on our annual Balanced Scorecard focuses on required professional development accomplishments for each and every employee.

Does your congregation have a professional development standard for staff and other key leaders?  If not, I’d encourage you to strongly consider this. And, the first of the year is a great time to start!

Having done a lot of speaking and teaching on leadership development all across the Church, I know that as soon as I propose investing in professional development I’ll hear the “scarce resources” argument.

I’m going to push back, however, and state that with carefully planned activities, you will get more in return than you spend in time or money on development of the people serving in leadership roles!  And, while certainly time and effort need to be applied, there are many low cost and even free options for professional development for church leaders.

  • Look to your local public school system for evening classes on effective speaking, accounting basics, meeting management, or small group dynamics.
  • Invite gifted lay leaders from your congregation who would be delighted to join your staff and lead a “brown bag lunch” on business skills that apply to church environments.
  • Select a book to read together and discuss as a staff.  For pastoral staff, maybe Mike Foss’s new book Reviving the Congregation: Pastoral Leadership in a Changing Context or for faith formation teachers and leaders, Michael Novelli’s Shaped by the Story: Discover the Art of Bible Storytelling
  • Network with ecumenical or interfaith communities in your area.  What do they know that you don’t and vice versa.  Trade expertise!
  • Watch an interesting TED talk as a staff during your weekly staff meeting.
  • Check out the website for your synod or other middle judicatory for workshops and conferences.
  • Explore your denomination’s colleges, universities and seminaries for both in-person and web-based teaching and learning events.
  • Last, but far from least, look to Augsburg Fortress and sparkhouse!  We host 400+ free webinars each year on a wide range of topics to assist congregational leaders. While some are tied to specific resources we publish, many are broader in their scope.  For example, in just the next two weeks, we are hosting 22 free webinars! In addition to product-specific webinars, we’ll have free webinars on these general interest topics for church leaders:
    • Leading Adult Bible Studies
    • Using Video to Engage Kids through Adults in Faith Formation
    • Everyone on the Same Page: Energize Your Church Using the Revised Common Lectionary
    • Building Biblical Literacy with Children

To learn more about these webinars and our rotating free offerings, bookmark http://gatherlearnlead.org and check it throughout the year!   Invite your colleagues to do the same as they work on their professional development plans.

Professional development is up to each of us as individuals; we need to proactively find ways to incorporate life-long learning into our busy days.  But, it is also up to us as organizational leaders to encourage and nurture this initiatives around growth so that as our world continues to evolve, our staff members have the skills to adapt.

Blessings,

Beth

ceo@augsburgfortress.org

@bethalewis

 


Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress


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