Yesterday, Presiding Bishop Liz Eaton spent much of the day on her first visit to Augsburg Fortress. I was attending the sessions via conference phone from Arizona, but from what I heard, the energy, enthusiasm and high regard was mutual from my colleagues to her and from her for my colleagues and their work!
Bishop Liz spent time with the entire staff sharing her vision for the ELCA framed as “We are church, we are Lutheran, we are church together, and we are church for the sake of the world.” She went on to share her hope that the resources created by Augsburg Fortress, sparkhouse and Fortress Press can be used to nurture this vision of the ELCA through congregations, synods, the churchwide office and other ministries. I promised to provide her with a quarterly update with new resources highlighted for her that we think will fit well into this framework.
In addition to the large group meetings, Bishop Liz toured our new office. She reported to our staff (most of whom haven’t seen it yet) “you are going to love it!” She especially commented on the fact that it was a gray day in Minneapolis yesterday, but the light streamed in through the floor to ceiling windows. We’re looking forward to having Bishop Liz come back to bless our new space sometime after we move into it in early October.
My colleagues didn’t just listen to Bishop Liz speak and ask her questions while she was with them. They put her to work! (I love this about them!) While with us, she signed her publishing agreement for her work as a writer for our forthcoming Sundays and Seasons: Preaching resource.
During lunch with our directors (department leaders) and executives, my sparkhouse colleagues shared some of their new faith formation resources for congregations including “show and tell” of the new Whirl bibles and a screening of some of the Whirl videos and animate series videos. I loved hearing the laughter and follow up conversation as Bishop Liz talked about her enthusiasm for the creative ways the Whirl Sunday School curriculum will teach children (and their parents) about the seasons of the church year and Revised Common Lectionary in entertaining but theologically solid ways. She also commented on how important this shared experience of using RCL can be in helping promote the “we are church together” portion of her framing of the ELCA and the ELCA in partnership with our full communion partner denominations, many of whom also use Whirl.
At that same lunch, my Fortress Press colleagues shared some of our new resources for assisting seminary students as they enter into their field of study and stay with them as valuable resources as they move into their careers including our new Reading Theologically by Eric Barretto, part of our new Foundations for Learning series; and Fortress Commentary on the Bible, a two-volume set that will be published in October.
It was a delight to have Bishop Liz meet my colleagues, share her vision and learn more about our ministry of publishing. We look forward to making this a regular part of her travels to the Twin Cities!
Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress