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

Exciting News from Augsburg Fortress!

June 28th, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

Did you know that we at Augsburg Fortress are the proud inheritors of a Lutheran publishing tradition that extends back 200 years in North America?  Even though today we are more likely to deliver products digitally than by horse and buggy home delivery or even traditional brick and mortar bookstores, our mission really hasn’t changed. The use of current technologies for proclaiming the Gospel is in our Lutheran DNA.

But, our tradition is older than that! In 1517 Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation by posting the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. And, he quickly saw the power of the cool new technology of his day, the moveable type printing press, to enable sharing of Scripture, his sermons, tracts and the Catechisms with people well beyond his little university town.

Those of us who work in this publishing ministry and business have been beneficiaries of this great theological and technological tradition.  And, we continue to serve the Church and adapt to changing times by recommitting ourselves to our rich theological tradition and embracing an ever wider variety of media as we serve Lutherans and other Christians wherever they may be.

It is with that background that I am excited to share with you this letter announcing some important changes in the life of this organization. This letter was sent out via email to all ELCA rostered leaders and many other ministry partners and leaders all across the ELCA, ELCIC and ecumenically.

This is an exciting day for me personally and in our organization’s history because it marks in a very concrete way how far we have come, how grounded we are, and our optimism about the work we will continue to do for the ELCA and the larger Church for the sake of the world.

Thank you for your support of this ministry and business of publishing!






Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Feedback on CoLABorate: Methodist

June 23rd, 2016 by Beth A. Lewis

We have three publishing units: Augsburg Fortress, Fortress Press and sparkhouse. Each of them is blessed by talented people focused on their specific work.  But, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t enthusiastic supporters of one another’s work!

Fortress Press Sales Manager for Educational Resources Grace Pardun Alworth sent me this note that she received from a UMC pastor friend, Dan Foster who serves at Clotho United Methodist Church in Long Prairie, MN:

“… I want you to know that the Collaborate Methodist is a beautiful thing. Will be using the history and doctrine book this summer.”

Clotho UMC

If his enthusiasm intrigues you as you think about your own confirmation class, you can try out a sample lesson for free with the downloadable lesson here. Or, if you aren’t UMC, but are Lutheran, you can download a free sample lesson of CoLABorate Lutheran Confirmation here. And, last, but not least, if you are simply looking for a solid and fun Bible Study resource for youth, you can download a free lesson of CoLABorate Bible Study hereThanks, Dan and Grace, for sharing these affirming words!




Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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!





Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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