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Marvin Roloff

By Mary E. Hughes


MARVIN ROLOFF, Lutheran pastor, helped guide the Protestant church in the major transitions of Christian education curriculum in the twentieth century. In his 39 years of denominational publishing he taught many what excellence looks like in Christian education and in Christian publishing.


Marvin Roloff was born March 5, 1934, in a farmhouse in rural Iowa, five miles west of Waverly, the son of Emil and Edna Roloff. His grandfather Frederick Roloff, a wagon builder, had emigrated from Germany to settle in Iowa, establishing the Roloff family in agriculture for at least the next three generations. Marvin's father, Emil Theodore Herman Roloff bore as his middle names the names of two uncles, who were his baptismal sponsors, a common practice among German Lutheran families. Both Emil and Marv's mother Edna studied at Wartburg College in Waverly in a time when college represented an unusually strong commitment to education. Emil met Edna Kathryn Schemmel of northwest Iowa at Wartburg. He attended one year and completed a business course. She attended two years. They married and settled on a farm nine miles from Waverly to raise their family.

Significant German Lutheran family values and practices described much of Marvin's up-bringing and family life. There were accepted rights and wrongs in life. Children and adults were to love God and do what the Ten Commandments required. "We grew up with the Catechism, the Bible, and the Book of Worship. And worship was a 'given.'"

The Roloff farm raised dairy cattle and the hay and grain to feed them. Dad also did custom baling in the community, and Marv drove the tractor for baling many summer days.

Marv was one of four children: a brother who died in infancy and two sisters. Mom had an educator's heart and was very conscientious about helping with reading and writing at home, making education a home, church, and school partnership. This was a theme that would recur repeatedly in Marv's life and in his later curriculum enterprises.

For kindergarten through sixth grade Marvin attended the local one-room school. There were never more than 21 students, and in Marv's class there were only six, four boys and two girls, including his older sister. Cross-generational learning was a given. He learned his fractions from Ladonna, two years ahead of him. Younger children were always learning from the older ones. Everyone took recess together and played together, usually softball. But there were few extras. With no piano music was a capella or singing with 78 rpm records. The library was a dictionary and a few books, certainly not an encyclopedia.

Teachers were hard to find, and the turnover was high. Teachers were trained for one year and were only 19-20 years old themselves. Sometimes teachers lived in the homes of student families, including one that lived with Marv's Sunday night through Friday. During World War II the teacher shortage worsened. Two local women came out of retirement to teach at the school, one of whom had taught Marv's father. But in this one-room school with limited resources, Marv received a good education, especially in the basics, reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Marv's parents, however, wanted the best education for their children, and for grades 7 and 8 Marv was enrolled in the Christian Day School of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Waverly, Iowa. For his father, that meant driving him and his sister the 9 miles to and from Waverly everyday since Edna never learned to drive. His class now increased from 6 to 15 and classes included confirmation, Bible history, and religion every morning at 9:00 a.m. The family moved into town the following year, Marv's 8th grade year. His father had developed allergies and moving helped his health. But he was also an enterprising man with a head for business, so he opened a John Deere farm equipment business that prospered in the years following World War II. Emil Roloff and Edna were active community participants, especially in their church, St. Paul's Lutheran. Emil was on the church council and was church treasurer, and Edna was always active in her church's women's circle. For eight years he was mayor of Waverly, a town of about 8000. The family work ethic focused on the work of church, school, and community, plus, of course, the work for which you were paid. This work ethic showed little tolerance for those who did not share it, and Marv learned quickly the value of "doing your share of the work." But in this family the church never took a back seat to anything else.

As a child Marv was active in the Junior Mission Band where he learned about foreign missions and was challenged to think about being a missionary. Later he was active in the Luther League. But he never attended Vacation Bible School because he was helping with the farm work in summers.

His two years at the Christian Day School at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Waverly, Iowa, were significant in Marv's life and there Marv had his first inclinations toward ministry. Pastor Otto Fangmeyer, throughout confirmation teaching, reiterated, "Men need to be ministers," and he set a good example. Many pastors came from that church through the decades, for even in this rural area, this was no small parish.

In confirmation with Pastor Otto Fangmeyer students used Dell's Catechism and in two years studied through the Bible. There was much memory work, including a hymn a week. "We don't think that memory work is important, but it sticks with you."

Confirmation day was Palm Sunday, 1948. On the Sunday before his confirmation, a public examination took place before the congregation. Marv was asked to recite the second article of the Apostle's Creed and Luther's explanation. Later, Pastor Fangmeyer said, "Oh, you did such a fine job, Marvin."

On Palm Sunday, 1948, Marv was confirmed, an important day in the life of a young Lutheran. His parents bought the flowers for the church that day. Colossians 3:17 was his confirmation verse: "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

As often happened in Lutheran churches, Marv's first communion was on Easter Sunday following his confirmation, and on the next Sunday, the confirmed class was invited to Luther League.

Luther League was the name given to youth groups in the American Lutheran Church, and in grades 8-12, Marv was an active member. The group of about 65 youth met two Sunday nights each month and divided their energy among four areas: work, worship, education and play. The Luther League fully sponsored Pastor Martin Heist, a missionary in New Guinea, through offerings and the annual "strawberry festival." St. Paul's youth directors provided good programs that played an important role in the lives of many high schoolers.

The arts, music, writing, drama, were always part of Marv's life. His 12 years of piano began with a teacher who came to the farm for his lessons. Organ lessons followed in college. He played saxophone in the high school band and sang in the mixed chorus and men's glee club. He was a member of the Masquer's Drama Club and co-editor of the school newspaper his senior year.

Marv's sisters also found active roles in school and church. His older sister Arlene and he graduated together from high school. She continued to live near Waverly. She and her husband raised two children who later graduated from Wartburg College. Arlene died of breast cancer at age 62.

His younger sister Elaine and her husband live in Waverly, and Marv speaks of her role as a special education teacher as her ministry.

Interested in science and pre-med, Marv majored in biology at Wartburg College. He completed college in three years, perhaps following the family's work ethic: "get through school and get to work." While at Wartburg he became best friends with another biology major, Shirley Sekas, from Thiensville, Wisconsin. Later, on June 27, 1959, while he was in seminary, they would be married.

From Wartburg College he entered the University of Iowa's College of Medicine, but during that first year Wartburg's President C.H. Becker sought him out, as he had already done in college, encouraging him to consider ministry. The conversations went something like this: "I think you should still take a look at seminary. I think maybe next year. I've told the seminary you'll be coming next year."

"All of a sudden, life came together for me," says Marv. "This felt like home. I wanted to be a parish pastor."

Seminary and Parish Ministry: 1956-1965

Studying at Wartburg Seminary was a joy for Roloff. In Dr. William Hulme's Pastoral Counseling class he spent one day a week at a mental health institution in Independence, Iowa. He observed classes and wrote confirmation lesson plans for Dr. William Streng. His knowledge and love of practical theology would be put into practice in his internship year at Grace Lutheran Church, Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It was an excellent internship for Roloff under the supervision of senior pastor Dean Kilgust. Grace was a large congregation, with 1600 students in Sunday school, 70 in each confirmation class. The intern was assigned general parish responsibilities with special attention to Christian education.

Part of the value of this internship year was in the strong staff team from whom he learned much. This team would remain friends for decades, and 45 years later many of them were able to reunite in a vacation together.

While at Grace Lutheran, intern Roloff was asked to review children's and youth material for the American Lutheran Church's Board of Education. Roloff had the interest, and Grace Lutheran had a strong educational ministry. The relationship with Richard Evenson and Ray Vogeley of the Board of Parish Education began during this internship and would later lead to vocational focus in curriculum, publishing, and Christian education.

After graduation from Wartburg Seminary in 1960, and at the encouragement of Dr. William F. Schmidt, Chair of the Board of Higher Education of the ALC, he went on to graduate studies in practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. His advisor was Dr. D. Campbell Wyckoff, a recognized leader in the area of church education curriculum. While there, he spent time with Ray Vogeley, of the ALC's Board of Parish Education, who was also studying there, and who had already been nurturing Roloff's interest in curriculum. In May 1960, he received the degree Master of Theology.

For the next five years Marvin Roloff returned to Grace Lutheran Church, Green Bay, as a pastor. Much of his ministry was in education. He was a member of the Parish Education Committee of the Northern Wisconsin District of the ALC, he planned summer events and teacher training, and he continued to review educational materials from the Board of Parish Education.

The confirmation program at Grace Church was one example of this congregation's educational ministry. With 5000 members, there were large confirmation classes. Study focused on Bible, church history, and the Small Catechism, and testing occurred throughout the year. To maintain strong family ties, Pastor Roloff and the Director of Education visited in every student's home, meeting with parents and students together. Educational ministry had to be excellent to keep members returning to their downtown church from the suburbs to which they were moving. Parents appreciated the academic rigor of this confirmation program and many young families enrolled their children and became members because of the strong education program.

In the spring of 1965 Pastor Roloff was surprised by a phone call from Richard Evenson asking him to interview for a job as editor of confirmation materials for the American Lutheran Church's Board of Parish Education. Although not interested, Roloff met with Wilson Egbert, then "never thought too much about it." When he received a letter of call through the mail a few weeks later, he had to get serious about the invitation. Later that year he moved to Minneapolis to be part of the team developing confirmation materials for the American Lutheran Church.

Augsburg Publishing House

As editor with Augsburg Publishing House 1965-1970, the confirmation materials he edited were part of the Grace/Faith/Life series. A new age of curriculum in the Lutheran tradition was beginning. First, more sophisticated understandings of developmental psychology and educational theory began to permeate the curriculum process. Secondly, inter-Lutheran cooperation stimulated educational innovations. In the early 1960's, the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America had been formed from the merger of previous Lutheran church bodies. Discussions between these new churches continued, sometimes including the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

In 1961 C. Richard Evenson became Director of the Board of Parish Education of the ALC. W. Kent Gilbert III was Executive Secretary of the LCA's Board of Parish Education. Both Gilbert and Evenson had earned Doctor of Education degrees from Teacher's College, Columbia University. The theological and educational competences of these two men raised educational ministry and curriculum development to new standards.

Evenson brought to the ALC's Board of Parish Education a large, competent staff of professional educators and practical theologians from parish ministry. They created exciting concepts for church education and leadership training. The Augsburg Publishing House Board of Publication was charged with bringing those concepts to fruition, securing and training writers, editing, and publishing materials. It was into this highly energized environment that Marv Roloff came to Augsburg Publishing, eventually serving both with the Board of Publication and the Division of Parish Education, two sides of the ALC's avenue toward providing educational resources for congregations in the ALC.

Immediately he became involved with editing Grade 8 confirmation materials in the new Grace/Faith/Life series as well as youth and elementary curriculum. One feature of this confirmation curriculum was its move toward a more holistic approach to educational ministry that brought together Sunday, weekday, and home. Lay teachers and parents joined pastors and learners in the confirmation enterprise.

Between 1969 and 1971 Roloff provided practical information to congregation educators through numerous columns and articles about new curriculum for Sunday school and VCS as well as about curriculum itself. He always valued that communication with the local practitioners. He wrote about new curriculum resources, about age level development, and about the Christian's need for education. At the same time, he remained a meticulous and thorough editor.

In its October 1970 convention, the American Lutheran Church "swept aside the 450-year-old practice of confirmation as a requirement for Communion. In its place they sanctioned an inter-Lutheran proposal - already approved by the Lutheran Church in America - which permits admission of children to Holy Communion at grade five or approximately at age 10 or 11." (Lutheran Standard, November 10, 1970, p. 4) Roloff made sure that within six months the ALC had the study materials needed to prepare 5th graders for their first communion with Welcome to the Lord's Table.

This separation of confirmation and first communion resulted from the work of the Joint Commission on the Theology and Practice of Confirmation. A cooperative program based on the recommendations of that report was one of several projects shared by the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America "to plan and produce a program of parish education for use by congregations of the two church bodies. Phase I of the joint project involved the formulation of "a central objective for educational ministry in the parish – an attempt to answer the basic question, "What should the church seek to accomplish in its educational ministry?" (Lutheran Teacher, May, 1970, p. 14)

In 1971, when Roloff became Curriculum Editorial Director of the Division of Parish Education, he also assumed additional responsibilities in the work of that joint effort in educational ministry and its implications for curriculum. By 1974 this cooperation had evolved into cooperation with LCA counterparts "on a project-by-project basis" at "points of the most mutual advantage." (The Lutheran, April 16, 1974, p. 23)

Roloff was the administrative leader of the Curriculum Editorial Department of the ALC between 1971 and 1974, then Director for Media Resources for the Division for Life and Mission in the Congregation, 1974-76. A highlight of that period was the preparation of Good News, the ALC's new church school curriculum for children. Written by congregation-based authors, the curriculum was developed in response to congregational requests for biblical, group-graded, economical and easy-to-use materials. Good News was a dramatic change from the more traditional closely graded, complicated curriculum, and it introduced experiential learning as a centerpiece of the classroom. Although aimed at small churches, congregations of all descriptions received it eagerly.

David W. Preus, president of the American Lutheran Church, wrote,

"I like the fact that this material is unabashedly biblical, filled with Bible stories and with opportunities for using the Bible. I like the way it assumes that the gospel – the Good News - is the real power of the church and that children grow by this gospel. I like the fact that our church continues to affirm the importance of Christian instruction of the young. I believe this new curriculum is good news for ALC congregations. … It should be well received because it reflects a careful listening to the concerns of many parishes." (Lutheran Standard, April 15, 1975, p. 20)

Rebecca Grothe was one of the editors who worked for and with Roloff. She reflected on his leadership in curriculum during these days. He had a "passion for biblical teaching that is age-level appropriate. One thing I remember him saying many times as he reviewed session manuscripts is something like: 'God is the one who acts. How does this session help learners know that?'" (Grothe)

Vacation Church School was also becoming a greater occasion for educational ministry, and Augsburg's VCS curriculum was among the most respected, used by many Protestant denominations. Themes such as "Family" (1971), "Neighbor" (1970) were studied by hundreds of thousands of children and youth.

It is impossible to know the extent of Roloff's influence on the learning and growth in faith among children, youth, and adults who studied and taught curricula he edited. He would be humbled yet grateful to know that every student and teacher who used the materials he made possible heard the witness of Roloff's own faith and love for God. His influence was, indeed, far-reaching throughout Lutheran churches and other denominations.

When Roloff was made Director for Education Resources for the ALC Board of Publication, 1976-1987 he supervised the planning and preparation of education materials for congregations to be published by Augsburg Publishing House. He oversaw the preparation of major curricular projects for the ALC, including Proclaim Sunday School curriculum for children, the Search Weekly Bible Studies for adults, and The Decisions Series for youth.

Neil Alexander, president of the Methodist Publishing House, would later say of Roloff,

he "believed and believes in the power and promise of the art of Christian teaching and the importance of the adventure of life-long learning. He cared and cares deeply about the quality of faith formation for people of all ages who respond to the church's invitation to go deeper in mining the treasures of Scripture, to grow in understanding our shared history, and to cultivate capacity and passion for informed and enlightening Christian conversation. He has invested years in dreaming and wrestling about what could happen in Sunday schools, confirmation classes, adult study groups, and other settings where two or three are gathered together to explore and discover more about God, Jesus Christ, and the people of God." (email, 5/21/06)

During those years he also developed close working relationships with the professors of Christian Education in the seminaries of the ALC, the LCA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Each year he visited each campus and spoke with Christian education classes about curriculum and curriculum development. He participated in, and encouraged Augsburg Publishing House to help support, annual meetings of those twelve professors. When those professors discussed writing a textbook together, Roloff stepped forward to edit Education for Christian Living: Strategies for Nurture Based on Biblical and Historical Foundations (Augsburg Publishing House, 1987.) Perhaps editing that book was the definitive symbolic act of Roloff's commitment to the shared work of these three church bodies and to the creation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988.

The ELCA combined the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the two publishing houses, Augsburg and Fortress Press, melded into one, Augsburg Fortress Publishers. The combined annual sales volume of the two publishing houses was $55 million, and together they employed over 700 persons in 1987. (The Lutheran, October 16, 1987, p. 17).

In the new publishing house Marvin Roloff directed education resources development until 1991 when he became Vice President for Marketing, then Vice President for Customer Resources and Relationships 1993-1995.

Difficult years at Augsburg Fortress

The 1990's proved to be difficult years at Augsburg Fortress. In 1992 Gary J.N. Aamodt was elected president of Augsburg Fortress Publishers, then resigned under pressure in April 1995. The Board of Directors turned to Roloff and appointed him Acting President and Chief Executive Officer. After an extensive search process Roloff was elected President and CEO of Augsburg Fortress Publishers in April 1996. Board Chairman Alan Seagren called him "the right person for the context and the situation because of his strength in planning and church relations." (The Lutheran, June, 1996, p. 49). Thirty years' experience in various positions had brought Roloff to his greatest challenge, to see Augsburg Fortress through its most difficult years.

"A smoldering compensation dispute between the ELCA publishing house and its former CEO (Aamodt) erupted July 30 when the two parties filed charges and countercharges in a Minneapolis court." (The Lutheran, September 1996, p. 40). A settlement was finally reached May 19, 1997. (The Lutheran, July 1997, p. 51) When those two years of distraction and disturbing conflict were resolved, Roloff set the course for the future, "The settlement puts to rest all issues related to these disputes and allows the publishing house board and staff to devote their undivided energies into fulfilling the publishing house's mission to serve the church." (The Lutheran, July 1997, p 51)

Roloff found himself squarely in the middle of the stress and distress of sales declines, restructuring and relocations, inventory write-off, operations adjustments, and technological innovations. Major changes continued as Augsburg Fortress sought stability. Roloff's steadiness and devotion to the church inspired trust, and Augsburg Fortress remained the third largest Protestant church-owned publisher in the United States during his two terms as president. In October 2001, Roloff announced he would not seek a third term when his second term ended in 2004, making the announcement early to "provide for a smooth transition." (Press release, 10/26/01)

In his remarks to the Board of Directors announcing his retirement decision, Marv said,

"It has been a privilege and an honor for me to serve this church in the ministry of publishing for so many years. I thank God for the church that has entrusted me with responsibilities and leadership in all areas of publishing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although these are challenging times for denominational publishers, they are also exciting times of new opportunities for electronic publishing, for meeting the diverse needs of our church and culture, and for meeting the needs of people who are hungry to find purpose and value in life." (Press release, 10/26/01)

Family and Church

Shirley Sekas Roloff graduated from Wartburg College with as biology major and was a medical technician. She worked in hospitals and in various kinds of research through the years.

Marv and Shirley are parents of three children. Reed, a St. Olaf College graduate and his wife Tami live in Bloomington, Minnesota. Reed works in the area of Customer Service for Best Buy. Ross graduated from Wartburg College. He and his wife are both graduates of Valparaiso College of Law and live in River Forest, Illinois. They have two children: Oliver, age 3; and Henry, age 1. Robyn graduated from Warburg College and is an elementary school teacher. She and her husband Brook Oldre live in Bloomington, Minnesota. They have three children: Aidan, age 6; Ronan, age 4; and Kian, age 1.

Shirley and Marv are members of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Bloomington, Minnesota. They have been members there for 41 years. Two of their children were baptized there and all three were confirmed in the congregation. Two of their children were married at Christ the King and are still members. Shirley has been active in the choir, Women's Circle, an usher, and served on the Church Council. She knits prayer shawls and Baptismal blankets. Marv has been active teaching classes and leading the adult forum, men's Bible studies, a money counter, and has served on the Church Council.

Contributions to Christian Education 

Marvin Roloff, born March 5, 1934, helped guide the Protestant church in the major transitions of Christian education curriculum in the twentieth century in three primary ways: (1) Through 39 years with Augsburg and Augsburg Fortress publishing he edited and supervised curriculum development as it began to take seriously the foundations of educational theory and developmental psychology. (2) He provided the steady and trusted hand to guide the third largest Protestant church-owned publisher in times of turmoil. (3) He worked tirelessly to foster inter-Lutheran and ecumenical cooperation in education and church publishing.

His leadership was especially felt in his home Lutheran denomination, but his influence was felt by every major Protestant denomination in the United States. A citation from the Wartburg College Alumni Association in 1998 stated,

"Congregations that have used resources from Augsburg and Augsburg Fortress have benefited from his management, oversight, and skills. The same is true of literally thousands of youngsters who have used Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, confirmation, and high school resources and materials." (citation)

In 1998 he received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from his alma mater, Wartburg Theological Seminary.

The Protestant Church-Owned Publishers' Association was an important arena for his gifted service. The PCPA, incorporated in 1951, has as its mission to "Enable its members to serve their denominations by providing visionary leadership through the ministry of Christian publishing." ( The official Church-owned publishing houses of about thirty denominations of varying Christian theological perspectives are members of PCPA where they learn from and support one another in their common publishing enterprise. For years, Roloff's participation in PCPA enhanced the publishing ministry of dozens of Protestant denominations. Davis Perkins, President of Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, says of Roloff,

I appreciated "his devotion to ecumenism and the common cause of publishing for the Protestant mainline tradition. In the former capacity, he organized a colloquium for the four denominations in the newly minted "Shared Faith" partnership (ELCA, PCUSA, UCC, RCA) and in the latter capacity he promoted tirelessly the health and wellbeing of the publishers in the Protestant Church-Owned Publishers Association." (Perkins)

The professional and personal friendships shared among the executives of these publishing houses provided peer support for Roloff and many others. "The real joy in knowing Marv was to experience his friendship. He not only cared about Augsburg Fortress and the organizations such as the PCPA he provided leadership to, but he also cared about his colleagues as human beings. I still miss the collegiality and friendship we shared over the years." (Perkins)

In 1998-2000 Roloff served as President of PCPA.

He mentored and taught others the skills needed for paying intense attention not only to what to teach, but also how and when to teach in ways that captivate the imagination and lead learners into a life-long love affair with understanding and living the Gospel. Marv brought these appreciations and commitments to the arenas of ecumenical collaboration where denominations with varying theologies and practices learned from and counseled each other. His gentle and earnest spirit called for the best in us and increased opportunities for cooperation and shared discovery across denominational lines. This was the reason for his election as President of the Protestant Church-Owned Publisher's Association - and for the respect and profound appreciation he received from his peers. (Alexander)

For twenty years (1971-1991) Roloff was consultant to the Curriculum Selection Conference of the Armed Forces. His work with the National Council of Churches has been extensive: Ministries in Christian Education, Unit Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Executive Board. He also gave "enormous amounts of time, know-how, and encouragement to the work of (the NCC) and its work in Bible translation and utilization - serving with distinction as the Chair of the Committee responsible for stewardship of the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. (Alexander)

Neil Alexander, president of The Methodist Publishing House, summed Roloff's contributions to Christian education in these words:

Marv's love of the Church, delight in its teaching and learning ministries, generous engagement and shared labor with other denomination's publishers, and his uncommon interest in paying respectful attention to the needs and struggle of the people the Church is called to serve have taught many of us what excellence looks like in Christian education and in Christian publishing.

Works Cited

  • Information in this article is drawn from conversations with Marvin Roloff and the works cited below.
  • Alexander, Neil. (May 21, 2006). Email from Neil Alexander to Mary Hughes.
  • Augsburg Fortress, Aamodt sue each other. (September, 1996). The Lutheran, p. 40.
  • Augsburg Fortress President Won't Seek Third Term. (October 26, 2001). Augsburg Fortress Publishers Press Release. Minneapolis, MN.
  • ELCA Publishing House sets course. (October 16, 1987). The Lutheran, p. 17.
  • The grace to trust. (November 10, 1970). Lutheran Standard, 10(23), 4.
  • Grothe, Rebecca. (June 9, 2006). Email from Rebecca Grothe to Mary Hughes.
  • About PCPA.
  • Joint programs focus on parish needs. (April 16, 1974). The Lutheran, p. 23.
  • Perkins, Davis. (May 22, 2006). Email from Davis Perkins to Mary Hughes.
  • Preus, David W. (April 15, 1975). "Good News" is good news for the church. The Lutheran Standard. p. 20.
  • Publishing house suit settled. (July 1997). The Lutheran, p. 51.
  • Roloff to head Augsburg Fortress. (June, 1996). The Lutheran, p. 49.
  • Uthe, Edward W. (May, 1970). Lutheran Teacher, 45(5), 14
  • Wegmeyer, Norman. (June 8, 2006). Personal interview with Mary Hughes


  • (1987). (Ed.) Education for Christian living: Strategies for nurture based on biblical and historical foundations. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.
  • (1980, September 2). "Sunday school isn't dead for us." Lutheran Standard 6-8.
  • (1977). (Ed.) God's table of grace: Preparing children and parents for holy communion. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.
  • (1971, September). "Welcome to the Lord's Table." Lutheran Teacher 46 (8): 16-17.
  • (1971, February). "Family: 1971 VCS Series." Lutheran Teacher 46(2): 6-8.
  • (1971, January). "A historic event." Lutheran Teacher 46(1): 4-5.
  • (1971). (Ed.) Welcome to the Lord's Table. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House and the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America.
  • (1970, September). "Those great and changing years 6-12: the ongoing creation of a person." Lutheran Teacher 45(8): 15-18.
  • (1970, June). "What's new? Report on the new developments in curriculum." Lutheran Teacher 45(6): 22-23.
  • (1970, April). "Preparing for VCS: Hints about things to collect and how to get ready to use the Neighbor Series, 1970 VCS." Lutheran Teacher 45(4):26-27.
  • (1970, April). "Elementary: A summer about history." Lutheran Teacher 45(4): 23.
  • (1970, March). "Elementary: Something new in Grades 1 and 6." Lutheran Teacher 45(3): 30.
  • (1970, February). "Neighbor: An introduction to 1970 VCS Neighbor Series." Lutheran Teacher 45 (2): 8-11.
  • (1969, May). Elementary: curriculum is building bridges, an overview of new Grade 6." Lutheran Teacher 44(5): 23.
  • (1969, February). "Be God's people. What VCS 1969 is all about." Lutheran Teacher 44(2): 26-27.

Curriculum Projects: 1970-1991

  • Marvin Roloff provided supervision for the design and preparation of many educational resources for congregations, including the following major curriculum projects:
  • Grace/Faith/Life Confirmation series, Grade 8 materials
  • Good News Sunday School curriculum
  • Proclaim Sunday school curriculum
  • The Decision Series for adolescents
  • The Image Series for senior high youth
  • Search Weekly Bible Studies for adults
  • Vacation Church School curriculum 1970-1991

Excerpts from Publications

Roloff, Marvin L. (1987). "Introduction." Education for Christian living: Strategies for nurture based on biblical and historical foundations. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.

(Education) "is bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to someone who has already heard the good news. This may sound peculiar to some, but if we consider the work of the church today, we discover that there is both mission and education. Mission is introducing someone to God and to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ; education is bringing the good news to those who have already heard.
Three biblical texts summarize the tasks of education for Christian living today.
In 2 Peter 3:18 we are encouraged to "…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." This implies daily growth to meet the needs and challenges of Christian living.
At the same time, John 10:10 reminds us that Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus wants our lives to be abundant in our relationships with him and with others.
Finally, in Luke 18:8, Jesus posed the question: "… when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" It's a poignant question for today. Surely the Son of man will find many religions and material things, but will he find faith?" (pp. 9-10)

Roloff, Marvin L. (1980, September 2). "Sunday school isn't dead for us." The Lutheran Standard: 6-8.

"Lutheran immigrants to the United States in the 19th century brought with them a great concern for education in the church. As new congregations were established, Sunday schools were organized for formal instruction in the faith. Learning is still a high priority in our church today, and the three precious resources the immigrants brought with them - the Bible, the hymnal, and Luther's Small Catechism - continue to be our basic resources for learning." (p. 6).
"The Sunday school teacher may be young or old, trained or untrained, experienced or inexperienced. But he or she likely is filled with love and dedicated to sharing God's love. Sunday after Sunday, teachers share their faith and make a difference in the lives of the members of the class. And in the process, teachers experience renewal of their personal faith." (p. 6).

(1971). (Ed.) (1971). (Ed.) Welcome to the Lord's Table. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House and the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America.

Within six months of approval of the inter-Lutheran proposal to permit Holy Communion by children of age 10, Roloff made this ground-breaking resource available to Lutheran congregations.

Roloff, Marvin L. (1980, September 2). "Sunday school isn't dead for us." The Lutheran Standard: 6-8.

On the 200th anniversary of the Sunday School Roloff reflects on the past and current significance of this educational movement among Lutherans.

Roloff, Marvin L. (1987). Education for Christian living: Strategies for nurture based on biblical and historical foundations. In his short intro Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House.

In his short introduction to this book, Roloff states his basic convictions about Christian education.

Author Information

Mary E. Hughes

Mary E. Hughes (Ph.D., The Ohio State University) is Professor of Christian Education at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.