Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Gold Pen will go to pair of Minnesota Lutheran humorists

Presentation will be made at Metro Lutheran’s annual dinner

Two Augsburg College graduates, with a knack for making upper-Midwestern (often Scandinavian) Lutherans look as silly as they sometimes are, will share the 2006 Metro Lutheran Gold Pen Award.

Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, who co-authored the popular spoof on their own faith tradition, Growing Up Lutheran, will be honored at the Metro Luther-an annual dinner on October 15. Recently the content of their book was used to create the story line for the currently running stage play, “Church Basement Ladies,” at Plymouth Playhouse.

Keynoting the annual dinner, scheduled for Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, southwest Minneapolis, will be Gustavus Adolphus College horticulturist, and WCCO radio personality, Jim Gilbert. His message will focus on God’s creation and our responsibility to care for it.

The Gold Pen Award recognizes distinguished service to Christ and the church through notable contribution in public communication. It recognizes service that is consistent and significant.

Martin is co-owner, with her daughter and son-in-law, of Scandinavian Marketplace, Hastings, Minnesota. Nelson resides in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Following graduate work in Scandinavian studies, both in Minnesota and Norway, she directed Concordia College’s Nor-wegian Language Village for ten years.

The two have collaborated in writing and speaking, offering a traveling road show, “Those Lutheran Ladies.” Their programs are nostalgic, focusing on growing up Scandinavian-American in strongly Lutheran farm communities in the Midwest in the 1950s.

They met at Augsburg College during Freshman Week, 1964. According to their own publicity, at Augsburg they found themselves “surrounded by hippies and heathens.”

In 1998 they were awarded the Minnesota Book Award for Humor for their joint publication, Growing Up Lutheran. The stage play based on the book, “Church Basement Ladies,” regularly sells out.

Gilbert recently retired as the Director of Linnaeus Arboretum at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minne-sota. He still teaches at Gustavus part-time, in the Environmental Studies program.

For 30 years he was a science teacher and naturalist in the Hopkins Public Schools. He is a consulting naturalist for WCCO radio, co-author of Minnesota Weatherguide Calendars, has written two books on nature, and writes a weekly nature column. He lives near Lake Waconia.