Covenant College Colleagues and Neighbors Celebrate Book Accolades
By RuthAnne Jenkins
Edrington Weichbrodt

Writing a book is often compared to running a marathon. You train by learning and researching a particular topic, which leads to months of writing while also being edited or coached on the sidelines. The process is long and often lonely, without many people around who understand the intricacies of publishing your work for the world to read. A team of editors and marketing experts can’t compare to the simplicity of being known in community and understood by those who have either gone before you or, in Liz Edrington and Elissa Weichbrodt’s case, those who unexpectedly walk alongside you. 

On the surface, Edrington and Weichbrodt are two friends who happen to live a few houses away from each other in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But since meeting each other in 2014, their lives have intertwined in unique ways. The two met while simultaneously (and providentially, as they would later realize) searching for a place to watch the 2014 World Cup. Edrington had relocated to Chattanooga that week and met Weichbrodt walking along the same street. 

Weichbrodt is an associate professor of art and art history at Covenant College where she has taught for 11 years. Throughout her career, she has explored what the integration of art and faith looks like and how to observe, receive, and enjoy art as a Christian. Instead of approaching art separated from the Christian faith, Weichbrodt believes that, for Christians, art can lead toward doxology. Anyone who looks at images can do so in a way that increases their love for God and love for others. 

And that is why, in part, she published a book on art and faith last spring. “Redeeming Vision: A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art” is a book Weichbrodt says has been in the making throughout her career as a professor. In a recent interview with byFaith, she shared that the first line of the book is, “This is a book for people who look at pictures.” Anyone who holds a smartphone in their hands throughout the day, scrolling social media; people who visit museums, read magazines, or edit their own personal photos can see art from a different perspective, especially Christians. Weichbrodt believes her vocational calling is ministering to college students, so her book is written with them in mind, but also their moms: How can students explain what they’re learning in accessible, inviting ways?  

“I think that our faith can actually transform the way that we see,” she told byFaith. “It’s not just putting up guardrails of what we should and shouldn’t look at, but instead, I’m looking at our faith because our faith is transformative. …We can direct our looking to grow our love for God and to grow our love for our neighbor.”

While Weichbrodt was writing and publishing “Redeeming Vision,” her friend, Edrington, was also working to publish her own book, “Anxiety: Finding the Better Story (31-Day Devotionals for Teenagers).” 

Through years working in ministry and as a professional counselor, Edrington continued to hear about and see the problem of anxiety among teenagers. When she first moved to Chattanooga, she served North Shore Fellowship Church through teaching high school Sunday school classes. After a year of volunteering while she also worked as a counselor, the church hired her as its director of youth. 

Though community looks different for Edrington and Weichbrodt, it was — and is — essential to the work and ministries they both cultivate in their vocations.

Through ins and outs of different seasons of her life, Edrington has sought to follow God’s direction rather than her own ideas of what her life would look like. After four years of carrying a private counseling practice in Tennessee, the state changed its licensure requirements. 

“I laid down counseling, wondering what God might do with that. It was a death for me,” Edrington said in an interview. Within a year, Covenant College invited her to join the staff as an adjunct professor in their psychology department, which was a “really joyful, surprising invitation” for her. 

In addition to counseling and youth ministry, Edrington also worked with Rooted, a gospel-centered youth ministry movement she’s been a part of for 13 years. Rooted seeks to equip anyone who works with or cares for teenagers, to disciple them toward lifelong faith in Christ. She spent several years writing for the Rooted blog, and began exploring writing devotionals in 2009 when she couldn’t find a theologically grounded resource for her students. 

She authored a few chapters in books before the opportunity came up to write the devotional on anxiety in 2021. 

As both women began writing their books around the time of the pandemic, neither knew, at first, that the other was going through the publishing process. It wasn’t a planned coordination, but more of a coincidence that provided a unique experience to share together. Both women described the experience akin to running a race, knowing you’re not alone in the trenches of what can often be a difficult, long process. 

“It was really sweet along the process of writing the book proposal and hearing back good news from editors and the ins and outs of publishing, offset by about a month from each other,” Weichbrodt noted. “It was sweet to get to celebrate with someone along the way who was hitting the same milestones.” 

And hitting those milestones together not only resulted in two published books, but books that landed on The Gospel Coalition’s 2023 Book Awards List, and “Redeeming Vision” won an award of merit from Christianity Today’s 2024 Book Awards. 

Though community looks different for Edrington and Weichbrodt, it was — and is — essential to the work and ministries they both cultivate in their vocations. From teaching college students to writing to working with youth, both women cited community (or the absence of it at times during the past few years post-pandemic) as an important piece to their writing and vocational lives. 

Edrington emphasized this, sharing how various groups of people from different spheres of life cheered her on throughout the publishing process: “I couldn’t do what the Lord has given me the opportunity to do without those different pockets of community.” 

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