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Augsburg Fortress expects 2006 profit

Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the ELCA, expects to finish the 2006 fiscal year in the black for the first time in several years, trustees heard at their Oct. 20-21 meeting in Minneapolis.

John Rahja, chief financial officer, told the board that Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the ELCA’s new primary worship resource, is a factor in the expected income surplus.

Through August 2006 the company recorded an overall $2.5 million net loss, which it expects to be made up by the end of the year, Rahja said. Strong overall sales, coupled with orders for nearly 588,000 copies of the ELW pew edition, are expected to propel Augsburg Fortress into the black for 2006, he said.

Because orders of the pew edition exceed availability for 2006, the company will carry a backlog of orders into 2007, Rahja said.

Augsburg Fortress President and CEO Beth A. Lewis said in a written report that any income over expenses would be reinvested into development of new ministry resources for the ELCA and ecumenical partners.

Lewis said sales through the publisher’s Web store are also significant—$5.6 million through September 2006, up $1.2 million over the same period in 2005, and up nearly $4.2 million from 2002.

Web-based resources generated $2.5 million in revenue, and include such online offerings as: NewProclamation.com, a preaching resource and sermon helps; SundaysandSeasons.com, a worship planner; HereWeStandConfirmation.com, a confirmation series; and Akaloo.com, a lifelong formation series for all ages, in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Lewis emphasized the challenge to “proclaim the gospel” using technology. “We think this is where the church is going in communication,” she said.

The company, Lewis also said, has engaged a firm to begin exploring the possibility of a new name.


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