Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Morse code in newsprint

Note:Written for ISSUES
______________

There has been a great deal of justified angst about the proposal from the Episcopal Church communications director to eliminate Episcopal Life and the Episcopal Life printing partnerships with diocesan newspapers. Episcopal Life would be replaced with a glossy quarterly magazine with the same name. Episcopal Life online would continue.

The proposal was greeted by cries of outrage generated at least as much by the apparent lack of consultation with the Episcopal Life Board of Governors and the printing partners as by the proposal itself.

I confess to a great deal of affection for Episcopal Life as a monthly newspaper. It has been a literal lifeline for Episcopalians in Fort Worth.

Our former leadership worked for years to isolate the diocese from the larger Episcopal Church. One of the first things eliminated was Episcopal Life. There were many Episcopalians in Fort Worth who did not even know of its existence. Parishes were kept isolated from another and communication between parishes was actively discouraged. Parish directories were closely guarded. The bishop denounced Fort Worth Via Media as “thieves” when they began to share addresses out of their own members’ parish directories. No names or email addresses of diocesan leaders were available on the diocesan website.

So one of the ways those of us who intended to remain in the Episcopal Church found each other was with Episcopal Life. It became a signal in the dark from one Episcopalian to another, a Morse code in newsprint from one freedom fighter to another.

The presence of a stack of Episcopal Life on a table in a parish hall signaled that this parish’s leadership was at least open to news about the Episcopal Church. Someone actually carrying a copy of Episcopal Life was a clear declaration of one’s intent, no matter one’s place on the progressive-moderate-conservative continuum.

Episcopal Life helped us locate one another and communicate with one another. I know of no better definition of a newspaper’s purpose.

Episcopal Life continues to play a vital role as we in Fort Worth work to reconnect with Episcopalians across our geographically large diocese and with the larger church. I understand the budgetary realities facing the staff at 815, but I do know that our work of reconnecting will be made more difficult if the monthly Episcopal Life goes away.

4 comments:

corstarr said...

Since I was so totally in the dark (didn't even know about Episcopal Life or anything about the national church anymore), I would want to keep print and online available for a little longer.
In the Diocese of Ft Worth, I was a misfit liberal member of a more and more far rightwing EC. When they actually left the church, I was shocked, sad, mad and didn't even know where to find a group to affiliate with. Thanks to Fr Stanford at St Christopher's, I found the St Alban's faith community in Arlington. They were so put together that I realized they had seen it coming and prepared. Now I am a rabid information gatherer and think all of us should be!

Elaine C. said...

beautiful testament to the lights that sustained in Fort Worth

Beryl Simkins said...

Your words could be restated with emphasis in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

"Our former leadership worked for years to isolate the diocese from the larger Episcopal Church. One of the first things eliminated was Episcopal Life." And, ..."Episcopal Life plays a vital role as we in [San Joaquin] work to reconnect with Episcopalians across our geographically large diocese and with the larger church."

With a tight budget in San Joaquin, individual contributions are coming in desigated to keep the monthly WRAP alive, (news about our Diocese that arrives in a wraparound with the Episcopal Life edition). The symbolic value of Episcopal Life needs to be a part of the equation.

Melodie said...

Thank you, Katie, for your words. Episcopal Life may be finished, but church communications isn't. We'll al ljust have to work harder and find creative ways to share the story of what the Episcopal Church is doing. Thanks for being such a helpful part of that in your slice of God's Kingdom. --Melodie Woerman