The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 30, 2013

Local shelf

The Mankato area continues to prove itself as a literary hotspot.

Here’s a look at just a few of the titles produced by local authors and publishers:

‘Supper with the Savior’

Barbara Sartorius-Bjelland’s journey to her debut publication began with a major conversion at the age of 14.

That’s when she discovered the Bible and became a Christian.

In the following years, Sartorius-Bjelland spent a decade working at an inner-city church as well as at Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato and as the sexton in the Chaplain’s Office at Gustavus Adolphus College. Her years of education and scholarship -- combined with a lifelong interest in creating children’s literature -- have now yielded “Supper with the Savior: Communion in the Bible and Today.”

For the author, the 110-page, hand-illustrated volume marks the culmination of a long-sought goal.

“I’ve been interested in writing children’s books for decades,” said Sartorius-Bjelland, who holds degrees in religion, history and graphic design. “I started the process a long time ago. I had no idea how long that process would take.”

The process actually began in 2004 when the author received a Worship Renewal Grant, a program that is hosted by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and funded through support from the Lilly Endowment. This year, the program is distributing more than $300,000 for various worship-related projects to 31 congregations, educators, churches and schools across the country.

Sartorius-Bjelland used her grant almost 10 years ago to self-publish the first edition of her book. Upon completion, she began shopping around for publishers.

After a few “nibbles” didn’t pan out, she decided to publish her book through Regent College in Canada. Regent is the home of Regent College Publishing, a small publishing imprint that specializes in a mix of out-of-print Christian titles and original work.

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