Different Means, Same Story

The final edition of Episcopal News Monthly, a print publication of The Episcopal Church launched just one year ago to succeed the 20 year-old publication, Episcopal Life, contains a column by the Rev. Scott Gunn, rector of Christ Church in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

In “Different Means, Same Story” Scott+ writes that the communication tools we have at our disposal for sharing the Gospel story may be radically different from the past, but the message is the same.  He writes

We have to remember why we are doing something before we can decide what to do. Whether we use hand-calligraphied scrolls or Twitter, the church is trying to share the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ and what God is doing in our own lives today. The question cannot be, “Should we have a Facebook page” or “How long will newsprint survive?” Instead the question is, “How is God calling us to tell the story of how our lives have been changed?” “How is God inviting us to share the good news with a world that desperately needs to hear an encouraging, hope-filled Word?”

[Read the whole piece …]

What my friend Scott+ is writing about is the crux of the conversation Episcopal Communicators across the church have been engaged in for a long time.  When I started as Communications Director at the Diocese of Maine in 1998, virtually every diocese had a monthly or bimonthly tab-sized newspaper.  Ours, The Northeast, published continuously since 1872, is the oldest news journal in the Episcopal Church, and we’ve been proud of that.  Today, very few diocesan newspapers publish even six times a year.  Many have gone to quarterly news magazines, and many – as we are in Maine –  are working hard to determine how we can retain a print presence that is relevant, timely and represents good stewardship of our limited resources.

Scott+ and I served on a panel with other New England communicators in October at the Province 1 Deacons Conference where the theme was ministry storytelling and its vital role in sharing the Good News  as it plays out in the our lives -for  both the teller and the listener.  In the column linked above, he writes that the more and more communication becomes relational through social media like Facebook and blogs like this, the NNE, “The publishing model will give way to the storytelling model.” I think that’s true.

In this newly created space, I invite you to share the stories and pictures of the ministries you and your congregations are engaged in across the Diocese of Maine.  And to make it a true forum – a dynamic interaction of ideas – please please please comment on the postings of others…ask questions, ask how one church’s program can be replicated in yours. Send your news (300-350 words is best) and photos to nne@episcopalmaine.org .

Monthly, beginning in February, we will gather the previous month’s stories into a pdf that congregations can share electronically or reprint for their own newsletters or bulletins.  That’s the plan for 2011, anyway.  Things are changing but our charge remains the same, as this week’s collect so aptly nails it:

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

–Heidi Shott
Canon for Communications and Social Justice

1 Comment

Filed under Ministry Storytelling

One response to “Different Means, Same Story

  1. Ben Barr

    The print media and medium are still very much needed. Many of our parishioners are yet (and probably will be) without Internet services and there are many who do have the Internet, but only with a dial-up connection, which makes downloading much of the articles and other media nearly impossible.
    Also, it is my contention, that the print medium is a longer lasting record of what has been communicated. I do believe that we need both types of communication preserved not only through digital means, but by hard copy also.
    From what I could observe, the sending of the glossy magazine, The Northeast, was not an effective way to distribute the news and happenings of what is going on in this Diocese that concerns the people in the pew and those who are Episcopalians, yet, for whatever reason, aren’t in our churches on a regular basis. Nor was there very much pertinent information in that format.
    So, while change is necessary and inevitable, communicating in the old style is still relevant. Of course, with our economics and demographics in this day and age, there are no easy answers.