LOUISVILLE Despite the faltering U.S. economy, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) has announced that sales increased in 2008.

At its recent meeting in Chicago, the PPC board of directors was told that the increase ― from just over $8 million in 2007 to $8,205,000 last year ― was attributable to publication of the first of two volumes of Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary and The Discipleship Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version
including Apocrypha.

Marc Lewis, PPC president and publisher, said, “Despite a struggling economy and a book industry reeling from bookstore closings across the country, PPC achieved a solid year financially. We not only exceeded our sales from the previous year; we received fewer returns from bookstores and enjoyed a balance of strong sales from our backlist as well as frontlist titles. We are so grateful to have experienced these results in such a difficult time for so many.”

Edited by David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word is among the most comprehensive lectionary commentary series ever to be published. Its published in partnership with Columbia theological Seminary in Decatur, GA.

“Each week pastors and those who preach are provided with sixteen different perspectives on how to communicate the scriptures using the Revised Common Lectionary,” said Vince Patton, PPC’s executive director of communications, church relations, and staff services. “We hope to attract even more subscribers as the remaining volumes in the series become available.”

The Discipleship Study Bible, the first NRSV study Bible to be published in more than five years, was edited by Bruce C. Birch, Brian K. Blount, Thomas G. Long, Gail R. O’Day, and W. Sibley Towner. It offers introductions and exegetical notes for each book of the Bible by top-notch biblical scholars.

“Another distinguishing feature of the study Bible,” Patton said, “are the notes and annotations that highlight the importance of discipleship and justice in serving and worshipping God in a community of believers.” Additional features  in the book, he added, include a chronology of events, a concise concordance, and eight pages of color maps.

Other contributors to the year’s success include God and the New Atheism by John F. Haught, Great Prayers of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann, Acts for Everyone by N. T. Wright, The Parables of Dr. Seuss by Robert L. Short, and The Yellow Leaves by Frederick Buechner.

In 2009, Patton said, PPC plans to publish nearly 90 new titles by authors such as Tom Long, Patrick Miller, Serene Jones, Ann Weems, Kathleen Bostrom, Eugene March, Jason Byassee, Will Willimon, Brian Blount, Kevin Vanhoozer, and the late Letty Russell.

Board members were also introduced to WJK Radio with Dan and Jana, a monthly podcast featuring interviews with Westminster John Knox Press authors. The first podcast, Feb. 23, featured an interview with Rufus Burrow Jr., author of Martin Luther King Jr. for Armchair Theologians, which will be in bookstores in May.                                                              

The PPC management team updated the board on the launch of The Presbyterian Leader.com, an online resource center for PC(USA) leaders that will be launched June 1 ― just before the June 11-13 Big Tent Event in Atlanta.  

The Presbyterian Worship Planner, Version 3.0 will be the centerpiece of the new Web site. The updated version of the worship planner will contain the Book of Confessions, the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, worship bulletin templates, and many other resources in an electronic format.

Other sections of the subscription site ― which will cost $99 ― will include leadership guides and studies on Presbyterian doctrine and beliefs, developed in partnership with offices in the General Assembly Council (GAC) and the Office of the General Assembly.

General Assembly Stated Clerk the Rev. Gradye Parsons said, “It is very exciting to see God’s amazing work being done in the PC(USA). This timely project will enable church leaders from ministers to ushers to continue to enrich their gifts and skills. I believe The Presbyterian Leader.com will help provide resources we all need to participate in God’s continual reformation of the church.”

PPC management staff reported to the board that it had reached an expanded partnership agreement with the GAC’s Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP) and Presbyterian Distribution Services to provide a wider selection of PPC books for adult study that will supplement CMP’s official denominational curriculum for adults.

“PPC is pleased to have this opportunity to work in partnership with Congregational Ministries Publishing and Presbyterian Distribution Services to provide Presbyterians with additional options for individual and group study,” Lewis said. “So many of the books we publish are excellent supplements to the PC(USA)’s official denominational curriculum.”

The PPC board continued to mourn the passing of William Placher, renowned theologian and author who had just completed his manuscript for a volume on Mark ― the first in a new 36-volume series, Theological Commentary on the Bible. Amy Plantinga Pauw, a professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Placher’s co-editor for the series, will continue her work on the series, which will be published in Placher’s memory.

With a heritage of more than 175 years of publishing in the Reformed tradition, PPC publishes books and resources under three imprints: Westminster John Knox Press, Geneva Press, and The Thoughtful Christian.com. PPC also publishes periodicals These Days and Theology Today.

PPC books are available at all Cokesbury stores, by calling Cokesbury at (800) 672-1789, or by visiting the Web site. Churches and individuals interested in purchasing subscriptions to These Days and Theology Today can call (800) 624-2412.