Fresh off her successful run as the advocate for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 2016 Golden Halo-winning performance, Beth Lewis is back for her second year with Lent Madness. We have no clue how she can possibly top that, but we’re delighted Beth didn’t decide to do a “one and done” turn as a Celebrity Blogger (like most of the players on her beloved Kentucky Wildcats basketball team). Fun fact: Beth is not our only Lutheran Celebrity Blogger. Stay tuned!
Beth Lewis is the President & CEO of 1517 Media, the ministry of publishing of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 1517 Media is the parent organization for Augsburg Fortress, Fortress Press, and Sparkhouse. This call, having begun in 2002, followed 20+ years of work for several Fortune 500 publishing companies and owner of a computer and technology career school. Beth has announced her retirement from this role, effective September 2018. But, retirement from this role means she hopes to continue speaking, serving on Boards, etc. while finding more time to spend traveling and wine tasting with her husband, the Rev. Dr. Rick Rouse. They have recently built a new home in Mukilteo, WA to be closer to young grandchildren and wineries. Beth is a popular speaker in ecumenical groups on a wide range of topics; some of the most popular are Gutenberg to Google: Effective Use of Technology for Congregations, Strategic Planning for Faith-Based Organizations, and Congregational Hospitality. Having been raised Lutheran in Lexington, Kentucky, Beth continues to be a dedicated fan of UK Wildcats basketball, so brackets are among her favorite things to follow! She writes the One Mission blog and you may connect with her on Twitter @bethalewis and on Facebook.
1. What is the single most inspirational place you have ever visited (besides your own church).
I was surprised by how moved I was when we visited the gorgeous St. Nicholas Church (Nikolai Kirche) in Leipzig, Germany. But, the inspiration doesn’t come from the congregation’s beauty. Rather, it is inspirational because this congregation was the center of the Peaceful Revolution through their civil disobedience actions that brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989. Hearing the stories of pastors and members of this congregation having the courage to stand up to the Stasi as a witness to their faith inspires me to be courageous in standing up to injustices today. It is especially troubling to think that only 28 years later the injustices of the powerful against the weak seem to be gaining strength rather than dissipating.
2. Share one unusual fact about yourself with the Lent Madness public.
I love to speak and teach. Because a significant amount of my time is spent in this way, across the Church, many people assume that I’m an extrovert. But, in my heart of hearts I’m a deep introvert who relishes time alone. The opportunity to be at home all by myself with an engaging book to read and either a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine close at hand (depending upon the hour of the day) is a little slice of heaven! If I can watch the ferry traveling to and from Whidbey Island from my chair, that’s even better!
3. Of the saints you’ve written about for Lent Madness 2017, what most inspires you? What most disturbs you?
Last year, I wrote about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His courage in returning to Germany and standing against the Nazi regime when he could have safely stayed in the welcoming academic community of Union Theological Seminary in New York inspires me. And, while I’m excited to be writing about Martin Luther for 2017, I am always deeply disturbed by his condemnation of Jews and Muslims.
4. If you could get just one tattoo this Lent, what would it be? (besides the Lent Madness logo and “none” is not an option).
The very thought of a tattoo makes me squeamish! Needles! But, if I could get one of the type that wash off, I would opt for Katie Luther! What an extraordinary woman. She was courageous enough to leave her vocation as a nun and marry a man who while brilliant, must have been quite a challenging spouse. While keeping the house going and raising the children would have been the norm in her day, she went well beyond that. Her entrepreneurial spirit and energy launched a boarding house for students, a brewery, and other business ventures while her husband was stirring up trouble in the Church!