Augsburg Fortress
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Generosity + Squiggle = Faith Formation!

June 20th, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

My friend, Bishop Steven Ullestad of the Northeastern Iowa Synod knows that I love stories about the ways resources we create make a difference in the lives of children, youth and adults all across the Church. He encouraged Principal Kris Meyer to share this one with me.

A few weeks ago, he attended a special dedication of a first grade classroom at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, IA.  The dedication was in honor of a woman who taught first grade in the school from 1942-1974, made possible by a generous financial donation.

Part of the donor’s gift was used to purchase forty copies of The Spark Story Bible from Sparkhouse Family to be used in the first grade classroom as well as their preschool and kindergarten.

St. Paul Lutheran School 5

Here is Kris’s story:

“We held the dedication of the classroom outside in the hallway so we could see the plaque honoring the former teacher, Mrs. Wessel. Dr. Wessel, her son, read the inscription on the plaque followed by first graders leading the program. Alivia, read Proverbs 22:6, Bailey presented a book of pictures taken of each child reading and telling about their favorite Bible story from The Spark Story Bible, Nolan said the prayer, and Cora led the group in singing, As You Go On Your Way. The hallway was filled with school children and adults experiencing a holy moment. When it was over there was a momentary silence, no one moved. Suddenly Braden, shot his hand into the air. When I called on him, he asked Dr. Wessel, “What is your favorite Bible?” Dr. Wessel answered, “I like The Spark Story Bible because it has so many great pictures to go along with the stories and on every picture there is that funny little worm.” Megan quickly filled in giggling, “That’s Squiggles!” Dr. Wessel smiled, “I really like Squiggles.” It was a connecting moment. Favorite Bible stories were shared from child to adult in the next minutes. And the Spirit danced.

Later when I was asking Braden to share with me his account of this story he said, “If he [Dr. Wessel and his sister] hadn’t given us the Bibles, I couldn’t have asked that question. You have to have a reason.” 



SquigglesWhen Dr. Wessel was asked which was his favorite Bible story he really didn’t know. Bishop Ullestad suggested, Suffer the children to come unto me…. I believe he is right on. The story represents the mission of our school, of filling our classrooms with Bibles such as The Spark Story Bible, so that we can be a place where faith and learning go hand in hand.

Beth, this is the story of that moment, with a little storytelling privilege worked in. I wish you could have felt it. It was wonderful. I also want you to know that we are a non-public ELCA Lutheran elementary school. Our students often use The Spark Story Bible in the Kindergarten and 1st grade to supplement our Literacy block. It is pretty exciting. We are hoping to get Spark Story Bibles for all the rooms eventually.”

As we exchanged further emails she added, “Here are several pictures, not of the ceremony, but of kiddos utilizing the Bibles in the 1st Grade Classroom.”

St. Paul Lutheran School 4St. Paul Lutheran School 3

St. Paul Lutheran School 2

St Paul Luth School 1

As you might imagine, and as Bishop Ullestad knew, I love hearing how these children’s faith lives are being nurtured….through the dedication of a teacher who gave thirty-two years to teaching at this school, a generous financial gift to this school, an obviously enthusiastic and supportive principal, and the sharing of favorite stories….not to mention Squiggles!

Thank you, Kris and Bishop Ullestad!





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Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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