This past July/August, I had the privilege of speaking at the North American Association for the Catechumenate (NAAC) Gathering in Baltimore on the topic of “Resourcing Disciples and Their Mentors.” What is NAAC, you might ask? NAAC is an ecumenical organization that provides training and support for churches engaged in the process of encouraging Christian discipleship; sometimes with an eye toward baptism and sometimes simply for deepening one’s faith and affirming one’s baptism.
Both during my workshop and in conversations during the event, a number of attendees noted that they weren’t aware of some of the resources we publish related to the catechumenate and discipleship. I always like to point out that yes, some of our resources are specifically Lutheran, but many of our discipleship resources and faith formation resources from Augsburg Fortress, sparkhouse, and Fortress Press are widely used in congregations of other denominations and traditions.
After the Gathering, I sent an email to attendees and other presenters with this friendly “not just for Lutherans” reminder, pointing out two of our resources that continue to grow in popularity each year: Bread for the Day and our annual Lenten devotional—for this next Lenten season, Bearing Fruit: Devotions for Lent 2016. I also asked if they would like to receive occasional eNews updates from us to learn more about new resources to assist with discipleship in their community of faith, and was delighted to receive a number of yeses.
One of those “yeses” was from Paul Hoffman, an ELCA pastor and one of our regular contributors, who said that for some time now, he’s wanted to have some of our resources to display at the many workshops he leads, but it never came to fruition. He was certain that if he had several copies of our Go Make Disciples, for example, that he could sell them.
I forwarded his message to my colleagues Marketing Manager Eric Vollen and Director of Sales and Service Lisa Rotherham, who, with help from our Augsburg Fortress Canada colleague Jamie Courtney, arranged for a gratis resource library to be sent to one of Paul’s events, the faith.formation.faith Immersion Weekend in Delta, British Columbia, where 40 ELCA and ELCIC leaders would be gathering. With help from our Design Studio, Eric developed a PDF highlighting “Augsburg Fortress Resources for Discipleship_Catechumenate” for Paul to photocopy and bring to the event, highlighting the resources we sent. This list of resources included the following:
- Washed and Welcome: A Baptism Sourcebook
- Go Make Disciples: An Invitation to Baptismal Living (book and CD-ROM)
- Welcome, Child of God
- Living the Promises of Baptism: 101 Ideas for Parents
- Child and Parent Baptismal Bundle
- In These or Similar Words: Crafting Language for Worship
- Flowing Water, Uncommon Birth: Christian Baptism in a Post-Christian Culture
- The Three-Day Feast: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter
- Bread for the Day: Daily Bible Readings and Prayers
- Bearing Fruit: Devotions for Lent 2016
Each attendee received a copy of Bearing Fruit; the other items were displayed as a resource library. Eric recommended to Paul that following the event, they either give the resources away as a drawing or to a church in need of these resources. Following the event, Paul sent this message to Eric:
“This has worked beautifully to have a display of AF materials available for perusal at a faith.forming.faith Immersion Weekend. Thanks for joining me and taking the risk.
These materials will go to the synod office here in BC and serve as a resource for years to come, forming the beginnings of a 21st Century Catechumenal library. It’s quite gratifying, actually, to have them here of all places, since the ELCIC was really formative in the early years in developing rites and resources for North American Lutherans. When we all started this in the ELCA in the 1990s, we were already standing on their shoulders. The body of Christ is amazing.”
Paul also provided a summary of the event:
“On the 16-18 October 2015 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Delta, BC, 50 laypeople and rostered leaders of the ELCIC and the ELCA participated in a faith.forming.faith Immersion Weekend led by Pastor Paul Hoffman and a team of lay Bible study leaders from the Northwest Washington Synod. Fourteen congregations were represented. In the course of this weekend conference, those who attended experienced the arc of the church year as it might be celebrated in a congregation that is intentionally practicing a process of forming new Christians. They participated in four small group Bible studies led in a manner that would be welcoming for newcomers, worshipped in a variety of services from across the liturgical year that included the rites from Go Make Disciples, and were prepared to return to their congregations and initiate a process of forming new Christians. In short, they went from Advent to Pentecost in a little less than 48 hours. Resources from both Pastor Hoffman’s ministry and Augsburg Fortress were available to the participants and will assist them in bringing the message of this ministry to their home congregations.”
Thank you, Pastor Paul Hoffman, for your work in promoting our resources and our ministry of publishing. And thank you, Eric, Lisa, and Jamie, for your work in coordinating resources for this event. Eric tells me that Paul is leading another event with the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, in November, and I’m delighted to know that our resources will be present and lifted up again by Paul!
In addition, if you are interested in learning more about this discipleship process, the NAAC organization hosts an annual conference and one or more training events around North America each year. The next annual conference will be held at a lovely retreat center in Albuquerque, NM June 28-30, 2016. More information is available on their website or Facebook page.
Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress