Friday, December 17, 2010
Our synod’s World Hunger Task Force created a series of materials, available free as downloads from our website, for congregations to use for a five-week emphasis on responding to hunger…perfect for mid-week Lenten services/programs (or other times of year). The materials introduce the topic in week one, then focus each week on one of the four pillars of the ELCA World Hunger appeal: relief, development, education, and advocacy. Here’s the link: http://www.uss-elca.org/for-congregations/2011-world-hunger-lenten-series.
Here’s a publicity blurb about it, edited to be appropriate for another synod’s use:
FREE SERIES MATERIALS ON WORLD HUNGER
A free 2011 World Hunger Series, “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” is now available online! Created by members of the Upper Susquehanna Synod (ELCA), the comprehensive materials include: Bible studies, worship services, drama/dialogue sermons, children’s sermons, meal ideas, table prayers, take-home family devotions, and fundraising ideas. Click here to download items as Word or PDF files: http://www.uss-elca.org/for-congregations/2011-world-hunger-lenten-series. The versatile collection may be used for mid-week Lenten programs, Sundays in Lent, or at any time of the year for a congregational focus on God’s call to feed the hungry. Congregations may also wish to order free resources from ELCA World Hunger to complement their Hunger emphasis. Coin bank boxes for adults and children, color brochures, calendars, and other materials are available at no charge through the ELCA Resource Catalog at: http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/ELCA-World-Hunger/Resources.aspx. “Give us this day our daily bread; may all the world be clothed and fed.”
The Rev. Beth Ann L. Stone
Assistant to the Bishop, Upper Susquehanna Synod
PO Box 36
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Thursday, December 2, 2010
From the Book of Faith publications: a brand new Lenten study by Katherine Kleinhans called, "Seven Wonders of the Word" using themes from God's Word: Creates, Calls, Commands, Saves, Sustains, Shapes and Sends; last year's study, "Marks of a Christian" by David L. Miller; and 2009's study, "40 Days with the Lord's Prayer". These are great, in-depth studies from which students will get a lot of insights. The last one listed on the Lord's Prayer has been reprinted 6 times, the most reprints of a Lenten study in a decade!
Also, "Music Sourcebook for Lent and the Three Days" will expand your collection of great music for the congregation; "Worship Guidebook for Lent and the Three Days" has all kinds of new ideas and possibilities for the congregation's experience.
These are wonderful publications that will enhance your planning and the congregation's participation. Check out other "on sale" items from Augsburg Fortress soon.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Are you looking for a resource that helps you understand what Lutheran's believe? Are you wondering how Lutherans respond to a number of issues that confront us as we begin the 21st century? Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers by Dr. Martin Marty is the book you are looking for. I shared a copy of it with every pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi. They found it very helpful. To watch a Youtube video of a Malawi pastor describing this resource as well as the entire Pastor's Academy, click on this link:
This book, along with other helpful resources published by Augsburg Fortress, is available to preview at our resource center.
Monday, November 15, 2010
One is by Harry Wendt: In Heaven's Name, Why On Earth? A New Testament Approach to Stewardship & Life Management. There is a Leader's Manual, a Participant Book and a DVD that you can use to prepare to lead the group or just play it in the class for discussion. Call your Council and Committees together to get them on board with the materials, and then lead other small groups. Good material.
The second one is a DVD by Dr. Mark Allan Powell: Our Duty and Delight. In Powell's great style of teaching, this is definitely a plus for your congregation to view.
A third one was written by our own Bishop Duane Pederson a few years ago, called Hooked on Mission. It is a DVD that contains all you need for pulling off this "fishing language" instruction for giving, including bulletin covers, letters to send, commitment card, newsletter suggestions, and many more helps.
Contact your friendly Resource Center for help in planning your yearly stewardship way-of-living program!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells Young People 'It Gets Better'
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In a video essay posted on You Tube, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offered reassurance to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, saying, "You are a beloved child of God."
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson said he wanted to speak honestly to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and offer hope.
"Your life carries the dignity and beauty of God's creation," Hanson said. "God has called you by name and claimed you forever. There is a place for you in this world and in this church."
Hanson recorded the video in response to numerous recent reports of gay teenagers who have been bullied, with some taking their own lives. The video can be viewed at http://www.ELCA.org/itgetsbetter on the ELCA website.
Hanson said he has listened "with pain and shock" to recent reports of young people who committed suicide, the result of abuse they have suffered because of their sexual orientations.
"I can only imagine what it's like to be bullied for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," he said. "But I do know how bullying can destroy someone."
Hanson, the father of six children and four grandchildren, told a story about his daughter. He came home one day and found her curled up in a fetal position on the floor weeping uncontrollably. She was struggling to know "who she was as a biracial young woman," he said.
"She felt bruised by words people had spoken about her, words that ate away at her sense of identity and self-worth. I sat down by her on the floor holding her in my arms," Hanson said.
Words have the power to both harm and heal, he said. "Sometimes the words of my Christian brothers and sisters have hurt you," Hanson told viewers, "and I also know that our silence causes you pain."
Hanson recorded his video after results of a survey were released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute. It showed that two of every three Americans believe that people who are gay commit suicide at least partly because of messages sent from churches and other place of worship.
Hanson added that as a Christian, he trusts God is working in the world for justice and peace "through you and through me."
"It gets better," he said.
Hanson's video will be submitted to the recently initiated online video project, "It Gets Better," at http://www.itsgetsbetter.com on the Web. Several public figures and celebrities have contributed video testimonials reassuring young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender that the bullying and torment they experience in their daily lives, especially in high school, will end, and that there's a better life ahead.
Viewers are also directed to The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline.
More than 3,000 video essays have been contributed to "It Gets Better." Last week, President Obama contributed a video to the project. The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, a gay man who is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, also contributed a video piece.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Conversational Bible Studies!
Each written by a Peer Ministry Leadership student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN or at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.
Each faith and life discussion is based on one of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the very building blocks that kids need to succeed!
Specializing in equipping youth and families for ministry to be lived...
"I want to give you an update on the new ELCA distribution center, which will
handle all future orders for ELCA resources.
Augsburg Fortress stopped taking orders for churchwide-developed resources
effective October 20, at 5:00 p.m. CDT. (Staff who are responsible for
resource development within each unit have been working with us for a few
months to make this possible.)
Callers or visitors looking for churchwide products on the Augsburg Web site
immediately will be directed to contact the new distribution center at
800-638-3522, ext. 2580. As of October 25, 2010, orders can also be placed
Northern Printing Network will manage the distribution center for us. You
may see their name and logo (or the acronym "NPN") on invoices and
correspondence related to orders.
ELCA resources previously carried by Augsburg Fortress are being transferred
to the new warehouse this week and next. Backorders will be filled by
We are working closely with the Web team to update ELCA.org with all the
correct order information for ELCA resources.
Thank you for your patience as we make the transition to our new
distribution center. If you have any questions, please call 800-638-3522,
ext. 2580. I will send another update about the transition in the next few
Scott J. Hendrickson
Associate Executive Director for Communication Services"
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Baobab Blast will still be offered, so if you didn't have the opportunity in 2010 to learn more about Africa, especially our companion synod in Malawi, now is your chance to catch up. Remember, we have on hand to enhance your program, many wonderful items from Malawi, courtesy of Diane Kaufmann, who has collected some excellent things for display and some for useage.
Simply call us: 715-833-1153 and reserve what you need for a meaningful, top-notch experience for the young people in your congregation/neighborhood.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Beth's letter tells the story of how it was created.
What in the world is a “Flannel Fortress?”
It's a fun new video
A few months ago, my brother, who works as a sales manager for McGraw Hill (publishing runs in our blood...we have two cousins who work for MH, too!) sent me a link to a video that their corporate communications folks had put together talking about their sense of "mission" (I'm not sure that they exactly used that word, but that was the sense) as publishers....not just a Fortune 500 profit-oriented company. While the talking heads were a bit dull, the idea was interesting to me.
So, I sent it to our in-house video team. I said something like, "could we do something like this but not boring, talking corporate heads? And, without spending much money?" (tall order!) But, of course....they came through! They proceeded to interview a whole bunch of AF colleagues to ask about our reasons for working here, our sense of call, what Augsburg Fortress and Fortress Press and sparkhouse stand for, etc. Then, they went to work. They came up with the idea to play with a "flannel board" much like many of us used in the "pre-PowerPoint and video" days of Sunday School and to have some fun while getting across the sense of call that we feel for our work.
So, here it is
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Church Publishing Incorporated/Morehouse Education Resources based in Norwalk, CT:
Some resources that come to my mind with this thread and conversation:
Renovare - a group that focuses on spiritual formation "becoming like Jesus" http://www.renovare.us/
Listening Hearts Ministries http://www.listeninghearts.org/index.htm
Episcopal Peace Fellowship - lots of prayers and resources, including litanies: http://epfnational.org/
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (lots of focus on world poverty and the MDGs): http://www.e4gr.org/news/prayers/index.html
I also think of the work and ministry of Parker Palmer http://www.couragerenewal.org/ and Eric Law with the Kaleidoscope Institute http://www.losangelesdiocese.org/ki/
Thursday, September 2, 2010
You asked for it....we've got it!
Over and over again, I have heard questions like these from people throughout the country:
"Does AF offer a web-based Bible study program? We have members who want to participate in Bible study, but can't because they are ___________. The blank is filled in with a variety of phrases:
"traveling with their work"
"parents of young children who can't afford weekly babysitters"
"web-oriented and much more comfortable with the Internet than with traditional forms of reading and study."
You asked....we've got it! Starting this Sunday, September 5, we are launching a FREE year-long on-line Bible study
How can you participate?
You may journey through this Bible study on your own;
Or, with a small group;
Or, through your campus ministry;
Or, with your family and friends who live miles apart from one another;
Or, as a congregational activity;
Or, as a chaplain with the men and women in the armed forces with whom you serve.
The key is to participate! And, we'd love to hear from you. How are you using this new on-line Bible study resource? We are confident that you'll have some creative ideas to share with us.
Thanks for asking for this new resource! Be sure you let us know what else is on your "faith formation & worship resources wish list." We're listening and trying very hard to meet the needs of your community of faith!
Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress
Some ways discernment is being practiced in faith communities:
1. A church whose council uses consensus rather than Robert's Rules to govern their work
2. Same church elects council members during worship in the fall using an ecclesial ballot
3. Churches that practice group spiritual direction (do you know of any?)
4. Churches that sponsor mornings for listening (do you know of any?)
5. Churches that create meditation spaces: places to sit, read, reflect, journal, walk a labyrinth, etc. Some churches do this during Advent or Lent.
6. Churches that gather groups around a few "beautiful questions" (Mike is really good at this!) to discern what God is already doing among them and what God is calling them to be in their neighborhoods
7. Churches that begin worship with a long silence (more than 60 seconds) so that together "we create a space and an attentiveness to the God who has called us together and is present to bless us"
8. Pastoral modeling of spiritual formation is central (do you know pastors who make this a priority, have spiritual directors, etc.?)
We ask for your thoughts on this subject and please post in comments or on the site. Thanks!
The first phase of the resources focuses on families of infants and young children who are being baptized. The second phase will focus on adults - but planning is only just beginning for this.
By the end of November, we'll see three new items:
First, a "Sourcebook" of resources including
a) 5 different approaches for a pastor to use in preparing families for a baptism (using the Catechism, walking through the ELW, walking through scripture passages, using Dan Erlander's "Let the Children Come" and a suggested way to involve youngsters who are infants in preparation for their own baptism;
b) short, practical background pieces - also for pastors;
c) customizable handouts for sponsors and parents
d) reproducible bulletin inserts
Second, a book "Living the Promises of Baptism: 101 Ideas for Parents"
This is a small, illustrated volume that will look more like a gift book than a theological book; it has short suggestions for ways that families can act on the promises they make during a baptism for children from infancy to age 12; suggestions are in categories like "meal, play, bedtime, celebrating the seasons."
Third, a certificate for godparents. The certificate includes some simple ways that godparents can carry out the promises they have made during the child's baptism.
Then, next spring we will see a board book for infants and toddlers, "Welcome, Child of God." It's written by Anne Ylvisaker, and the text can be sung to the tune "All Through the Night." Illustrated by Claudia McGehee (who also illustrated "Living the Promises of Baptism." See her work at www.claudiaillustration.blogspot.com)
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Also, the volumes are finished for the series of introductions and alternate accompaniments for the ELW for piano and for organ - 10 volumes each, and there is a discount for anyone who purchases the 10 volume set.
Hymns for ensembles - instrumental arrangements for about 100 hymns, score and CD-ROM so that musicians can print the parts they need for their instruments will be released in mid-October.
Simplified Keyboard liturgies, with guitar chords is coming in early 2011.
Lots of new items to make worship planning more exciting!
Participants are invited to explore where they fit in the greatest story and how the greatest story fits in their lives. The Lutheran Study Bible is at the core of each lesson, introducing participants to the Bible through stories, illustrations, and reflections. Each session is visually depicted through captivating session videos that feature the sand art of renowned artist Joe Castillo.
The Greatest Story can come alive for you and your congregation as you share the great stories of faith.
Washed and Welcome - Baptismal formation materials in four parts. The first three parts are due toward the end of November. This publication will deal with families with infants and young children because those are the ones most commonly baptized. It will have a Baptism Sourcebook with a CD-ROM and there will be a full-color smaller sized book to give to parents or sponsors with 101 Ideas for remembering, celebrating, continuing the rite of baptism.
The fourth part will come in the spring and will deal with adult baptisms.
Be sure to watch this site for news of its arrival. Get your name on the list to preview this new, long awaited material.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This is the new and very much improved version of Bread for the Day. I believe this fits very well our synod emphasis on connecting home and congregation. There is even a discount for group orders!
Bread for the Day is a daily-use devotional resource filled with rich treasures:
- A brief scripture reading (NRSV texts) for each day following the daily lectionary developed by the Consultation on Common Texts and presented in Evangelical Lutheran Worship
- A prayer and hymn for each day
- Brief yet helpful introductions to the seasons
- Table graces/meal prayers for the holidays and seasons
- Household blessings for special times throughout the year (for example: Blessing for the New Year, Blessing of the Home at Epiphany, Prayer for Placing Palms in the Home, Blessing of the Easter Meal, Blessings for Mother's and Father's Day, Remembering Those Who Have Died, Lighting the Advent Wreath, Blessing of the Christmas Tree)
- Monthly pages for recording prayer requests
- Notes on festivals and commemorations
- Simplified forms for morning and evening prayer
- Waking prayers and bedtime prayers, including prayers with children
Use Bread for the Day for personal, household, or group devotions. This is the perfect resource for individuals, congregations, households, Bible study groups, prayer groups, pastors, church councils, outreach teams, confirmation students, and teachers.
Friday, August 27, 2010
As of Friday we have 54 ordered toward our next order of 100. If you'd like to take advantage of this almost 1/2 price deal, call the Center or email right away.
Looking forward to sharing ideas of new resources in the coming weeks with you on my blog.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I agree both with her assessment and her thankfulness for Professor Grafton's list of helpful websites. I'll share those resources in my next blog post.
Thanks Karen for sharing this with all of us. This is my way of sharing it with all of the congregations in our synod.
Here is Karen's email to us this morning:
I have been really disturbed by the misinformation, misplaced fear, and hate that have bubbled to the surface in a big way around the Muslim community center being planned near (not AT) ground zero. I decided that it would be helpful for congregations to have HELPFUL information about Islam/Muslims and our relationship with them. David Grafton, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at LTSP, provided me with a wonderful list of resources. I thought you might be interested in these resources, too (although some – such as organizations and people resources – are probably most helpful for those living in NJ/PA).
Are any of you familiar with the NPR series, “This I Believe?” I found a link to Eboo Patel sharing a piece on what he believes for one of these “episodes.” For those of us who were fortunate enough to hear Eboo speak at the Communicator’s Conference, this story will be familiar. But, it is a story worth sharing here for those who didn’t hear him in Chicago – and it bears repeating for those of us who were there (it’s only 4 ½ minutes long):
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Dr. Janet Ramsey and Dr. Terri Elton from Luther Seminary are keynote speakers at this event at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills.
Marilyn Sharpe will be doing a workshop on faithful grandparenting.
Cost is $35 per person which includes lunch and materials. The time: 9 am - 3 pm.
Lyngblomsten Care Center is sponsoring this event. See www.lyngblomsten.org
Registrations are due on Sept 20.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A critical role in the process is played by those leading bible studies in their homes or in their congregations.
Are you looking for material to enhance your teaching skills or support others who are teachers?
Teaching and learning the Bible is one of the primary faith formation practices for Christians. For members of the ELCA, the Book of Faith Initiative calls us to encounter the Scriptures in a deep and powerful way. Teaching the Bible, Hosting the Conversation helps support the development of teaching skills.
Taught by professors of Christian education, religion and the Bible at ELCA seminaries and colleges, this course explores the many facets of the church’s ministry of teaching, especially as it relates to the Bible. Focusing primarily on teaching adults, individual sessions examine the dynamics of adult learning, methodology, designing teaching/learning experiences, pastoral implications of teaching the Bible, multi-cultural considerations in exploring biblical texts, and the use of media in teaching.
1. Teaching as Conversation: Where Do We Begin?
2. Teachers and Learners: Relationships Matter
3. Adults as Learners: What Does the Brain Tell Us?
4. How We Teach Matters as Much as What We Teach
5. Hearing Other Voices: Multi-culture Encounters with the Bible
6. From Creche to the World Wide Web: Using Visual Media to Teach the Bible
I'm very pleased that their is an online version of this course that combines the use of the DVD lectures, reading assignments, and online interaction with fellow participants and the class facilitator, Diane E. Shallue, Ed.D., president of Lutheran Association of Christian Educators. You can find out more about how you can be part of this online course by contacting me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-579-1556.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Dr. Martin Marty headlines a fabulous line-up of faculty, who will explore issues of our Christian history. Dr. Marty likes to quote a British scholar who explained why he was an historian: "Because I find everything so odd, and I wonder how it got that way." Others say, "we study history in order to interrupt and overcome history." Abraham Lincoln guides others: "If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we might know what to do and how to do it."
This course is open to all who are graduates of this synod's lay school, or any other lay school across the country!
For information, visit their website at: www.layschoolofministry.org or email me at: email@example.com or call me at 715-579-1556.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I highly recommend this resource!
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Every Congregation needs to have at least one copy of the new re:form DVD, leader guide and anti-workbook! This wildly creative, joyful without being silly, humorous without being disrespectful, right-on theological, DVD answers questions that I had in Jr. High and could never find a definitive answer to for years! I wish I had had this! The DVD contains segments with questions we all ask, such as “Is the Bible true?” “Am I supposed to believe that Mary was a Virgin?” “Why does the Bible contradict itself at times?” “Did God create the devil?” 40 questions such as these are answered with clarity, grounded in Lutheran theology, in accessible language without being condescending, and with graphics that are creative and will age well. Creative ideas for activities and questions are contained in the anti-workbook and the leader’s guide. This is a good investment for your congregation! You can use it for new member classes, adult small groups, Bible studies, classes of any age, youth retreats and youth meetings, devotions for church council –any meeting-- and Bible study for women’s and men’s groups. The list is endless. Congratulations, Augsburg Fortress and Sparkhouse, I think you’ve hit a grand slam home-run with this resource!
Specialist in Resources
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA
813-876-7660 ext 229
Thursday, July 15, 2010
John Roberto is the president and founder of LifelongFaith Associates, an organization dedicated to nurturing faith growth for all ages and generations in the parish and at home. He is editor of the journal Lifelong Faith, and works as a consultant to churches and national organizations, teaches courses and conducts workshops in faith formation. He manages the www.lifelongfaith.org website.
The summer 2010 edition of Lifelong Faith is about emerging adults and faith formation. You can download a free copy of the survey of research on effective practices and congregations demonstrating practices on this topic on the website.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'd like to also share a link to a document that shares a variety of links regarding social media. It is a very helpful document and was put together by a couple of Millennials who are employed by a huge health care system (carilion clinic) in the Roanoke, VA area. It shares information about Facebook, blogging, tweeting, what a good church website looks like, etc.
One of the documents I found fascinating was a 'map' - http://interactivesnack.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/social-media-map.jpg
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Select Learning will film Dr. Powell in July for a new stewardship resource. Here is a sneak preview!
Biblical Stewardship: Our Duty and Delight
Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio
Stewardship means "belonging to God" -- all that we are and all that we have comes from God. We are grateful to God for it all, and responsible to God for how we use it.
There is a connection between stewardship and spirituality: generous giving as a spiritual discipline helps us to grow in Christ.
"Duty and delight" are both motivating factors for giving -- doing what we ought to do as responsible church members, and making cheerful sacrifices out of love for God.
The over-arching theme of each session will be this is good news…
the biblical message of financial stewardship is promising and encouraging
not (usually) guilt-inducing
biblical stewardship is a way of life
and for many of us, it just may be the way to a better life.
Session 1: Belonging to God
Session 2: What is a Steward
Session 3: Treasures and Hearts
Session 4: Motives for Giving
Session 5: Duty and Delight
Session 6: Cheerful Sacrifices
Bonus Session for congregational development
Available from Select Learning: September 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Filming has begun on the fifth Book of Faith Initiative course, "Teaching the Bible with Children and Youth."
To learn more about these resources, contact us at the Synod Resource Center.