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

Making a difference…one life at a time

December 21st, 2008 by Beth A. Lewis

At Augsburg Fortress, we live on the tightrope between business and ministry. We are a ministry of the ELCA, but because we receive no funding from the ELCA, we must make challenging business decisions each and every day. Most of us who work at AF are called to the ministry aspects (otherwise, we’d be working in the for-profit publishing world). And, sometimes the letters and comments we receive from people in the church are less than charitable (can you imagine such a thing?) when we make business decisions. Their reasoning goes, “If you are a ministry, why are you (fill in the blank). The piece they miss is that is we don’t make some hard business decisions, we won’t be here to be a ministry of publishing for this church! Sigh.

And, then, a story comes in that makes us all smile. We only hear a few of these and often by accident. But, these ministry stories make it all worthwhile and reinforce our calls to this ministry of publishing. Here’s one I received from colleague, Lori Nicol, a couple of months ago. I waited until now to post it because we wanted to make certain that we had permission to use it in this public forum (with some minor edits to the story from me to protect the identity of the student):

“While I was at the East Central Wisconsin Synod theological gathering this past week a pastor shared a very current story with me that I want to pass on.
The pastor and her husband recently called in to a Here We Stand Webinar that Krista Sundberg and I did.

She said they had been working with a middle school aged student for the past year who was having issues. Despite their best efforts, they had not been able to reach the student and the student dropped out of confirmation. This fall they had been in contact with the student’s father to make sure that he understood that the student would not be able to be confirmed with the class. He asked if there was anything else they could do. They said that if she would be able to respond to and complete a certain number of lessons using the Here We Stand Student Site they would consider allowing the to take part in confirmation ceremonies with the class.

On Sunday night before they left for the theological event, they had received the first completed lesson from this student, they were thrilled.

This student had not only worked through the materials, but had asked wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent questions. Questions that the pastor was certain the student never would have been able to voice in a group of peers.

Both pastors were moved. I was moved. The power of this tool for confirmation ministry has so much potential to meet the needs of students at many different levels.”

What are your stories? We would love to hear how a particular Augsburg Fortress curriculum resource helped you in your ministry. How has a particular prayer or piece of music or book published by AF touched you or someone in your community of faith? We know the stories are out there. We know that the Spirit works through our many talented creative partners….authors, writers, editors, graphic designers, artists, composers, arrangers, etc. ….as they labor over their works that we publish. Please share your stories. We love to know how the ministry aspects of our work touch people throughout the Church.

Advent blessings to you,

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Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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