Mission and History

The 2013 Luther College Writers Festival is the third gathering of writers and readers held on the Luther campus since 2007. In 2007 and 2010, The Lutheran Festival of Writing brought readers together with poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction who have been shaped by the Lutheran tradition. The seed for the festival was an idea from Paul Shepherd (then Writer-in-Residence at Florida State University and a former visiting writer at Luther College) who happened to be Lutheran, and who felt that the great variety and achievement of writers shaped by the Lutheran tradition (cradle Lutherans, practicing Lutherans, Lutheran writers teaching at non-Lutheran colleges, and faculty writers at ELCA colleges, along with Lutheran editors and publishers) warranted a gathering of writers and readers with such an explicit focus.

Luther College was delighted to take the leadership in hosting these successful Festivals in 2007 and 2010, under the direction of Carol Gilbertson. Through readings, lectures, and panel discussions, we aimed to highlight this writing for students, faculty, and a wider public, as well as to support and encourage serious reading and writing and to cultivate a community of writers and readers in the Lutheran world.

Paul Shepherd became the coordinator of the Lutheran Writers Project, an ongoing digital gathering space for this audience to continue their connection to books and authors interested in this focus.

Luther College, the primary stakeholder and sponsor for the Festivals, decided in 2013 to continue its commitment to this gathering, but to change its name to Luther College Writers Festival, in part to expand our audience and focus. The Festival continues its ongoing mission to explore the deep and diverse ways in which highly crafted literature in all genres explores the human condition and illuminates the spiritual and moral imagination of readers. The works of our keynote speakers Mark Salzman and Anne Lamott are examples of this in the highest order. 

We will also continue our commitment to making the Festival a gathering of writers and readers—an event intended to leave room for conversation and exchange among readers and writers, as well as showcase the literary and spiritual imagination that keeps us alive.