MOORHEAD (AP) -- You might be a Lutheran if you only serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color for the season.
You might be a Lutheran if you hear something really funny and smile as loud as you can.
You also might be a Lutheran if you've ever shopped at the Old Lutheran Gift Shoppe.
Founded in 1999 by two Moorhead men, the online gift shop (oldlutheran.com) features T-shirts, office accessories and food products emblazoned with Lutheran theology and, of course, images of Martin Luther himself.
The idea came to David Hunstad in 1999, when he was standing in an Old Navy store with his daughter. With the help of friend Erik Steen, he designed an Old Lutheran T-shirt, complete with the face of the denominational founder.
Hunstad wore the shirt to a meeting of fellow Lutherans, and between the airport and the conference hotel, he sold 20 shirts out of his duffel bag.
The duo knew they were on to something.
Coffee mugs and steins followed. Then they created Old Lutheran Confirmints, which feature the slogan "Reform your breath!" and "This Is Most Certainly Brew," coffee that will remind any good Lutheran of those Confirmation days.
The latest addition to the gift shop is a Martin Luther bobblehead doll -- described as the "perfect gift for your pastor, confirmation teacher, Sunday school teacher, organist, head usher, God parent, or, for the person who always sits in front of you at worship."
"Sometimes we (Lutherans) get a little too serious debating the hot issues of the day," Steen says. "Our goal is to keep things light."
The customers seem to agree. T-shirts that convey "Saved by Grace" don't sell as fast as the "YMBALI" (You Might Be A Lutheran If ...) shirts do.
The business is still an evening and weekend hobby for Hunstad and Steen. Hunstad directs youth and family ministries for the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Steen runs the young adult ministry at Trinity Lutheran in Moorhead.
When they started the Web site, they lured people to their shop by offering free lefse to anyone who registered on their mailing list. The two men spent one Saturday making more than 600 pieces of lefse for 100 brave souls.
"That was a lot of work to get traffic," Hunstad says.
"We don't want to pull a lefse again," Steen adds.
The business filled more than 300 orders for the Christmas season and since then, Hunstad and Steen have expanded the Web site as more than a gift shop. It's a place for Lutheran resources, denominational humor and recipes. There's a Lutheran hymns jukebox, electronic greeting cards and the tidbit of the day, which ranges from an Ole and Lena joke to excerpts from the Small Catechism.
"I think one of the great traditions that has been lost in Lutheranism is that Luther himself had a marvelous sense of humor," says the Rev. Jeff Sandgren of Olivet Lutheran in Fargo. He has given away Old Lutheran products at church events and bought "This Is Most Certainly Brew" coffee for his Lutheran pastor brother-in-law.
"God of grace and glory had enough humor to create people like us," he says. "Self-deprecating humor isn't a bad thing."
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