Canadian Church Press town hall meeting minutes

Published on September 25, 2017 by in News


Canadian Church Press town hall meeting

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 – 11:00 p.m. (ET)

Archdiocese of Toronto and teleconference

 Present onsite: Bill Fledderus (president), Michael Swan (past-president), Ken Ramstead (membership), Angela Bick (member-at-large) Sue Newbery (administrator), Ginny Hostetler (Canadian Mennonite), Keith Knight (Canadian Christian Business Federation), Michael Hostetler (Canadian Mennonite)

Online: Karla Braun (CCP secretary), Brad Wassink (treasurer), James Sweeney (Quebec Diocesan Gazette/Anglican Editors Association), Mike Strathdee (MEDA Marketplace), Robert White (, Lloyd Mackey (The Word Guild), Tess Sison (Anglican Journal), Shiao Chong (The Banner), Matthew Block (The Canadian Lutheran), Karen Stiller (Faith Today). To be confirmed: Hannah Marazzi (Convivium), John Van Dyk (Christian Renewal)

  1. A meeting convened by Canadian Church Press on the occasion of the 60th anniversary to discuss possibilities to change the structure to better serve the needs of existing and potential new members. Hosted at the Archdiocese of Toronto.
  2. Canadian Church Press current membership includes staff at 68 member publications, most (49) periodicals serving a single church family (e.g., Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, etc.) . CCP is led by a volunteer executive of 8 people.
  3. The church communications sector is experiencing changes in methods and operations that may be discouraging some people from participating in the CCP community. Editors have been our core membership group, but are increasingly only one member of a communications team responsible for doing PR, fundraising, marketing, design websites, content editing and design on newsletter, broadcast—video and audio. Some are seeing a need for more parts of the team to be part of a community like CCP, not just one gatekeeper editor.
  4. Intro presentation by Bill Fledderus (see com/ccp-town-hall-meeting/)

Question: Is there a need for an association like the Canadian Church Press today? What is nature of that need? How can we better serve more people? Is there demand for a broader Christian community of communicators?

  1. CCP’s community is mainly editors; it could diversify further.
  2. The CCP community is specific to Canada and cross denominational – connecting various traditions evangelical, mainline, parachurch, ethnic, etc. – and so might benefit many others
  3. CCP provides community which we all need, especially those working in home office, those who are new to the sector
  4. CCP annual convention offers training through workshops and peer relationships
  5. CCP can advance the needs of its members in many ways;
    1. awards contest
    2. lobby on behalf of its members, issues in mailing, government funding,
  • relate with academia and industry bodies
  1. commission research relevant to the broader community
  1. CCP could facilitate online chat groups for encouragement and training
  1. Possible strategies to open CCP membership discussed so far, as summarized by Bill Fledderus
    1. If the community were not only editors and writers but also communications officers, fundraisers, marketers, audio/video producers, social media workers, etc., would that be of benefit?
    2. Membership could be extended to include publications serving a large Canadian audience (currently restricted to those published in Canada)
    3. The “associate member” category for freelancers could be expanded to other communications workers (currently it aims mainly at journalists)
    4. Options for partnership:
  • The Word Guild
  • Magazines Canada or CSME
  • Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada
  • News Media Can (Newspapers)
  • Evangelical Press Association
  • Editors Canada
  • Associated Church Press
  • Canadian Association of Journalists
  1. Previous internal CCP conversations and online poll showed support for partnering with Associated Church Press and for loosening stringent membership criteria. Regional chapters for Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver were suggested. Some questioned the wisdom of partnering with The Word Guild or joining with mainstream org like Magazines Canada or Newsmedia Canada – in so large an organization, our particular faith basis will be lost/unsupported.
  2. Floor opened to questions.

Michael H: Can the CCP do more to serve an interpretive role to larger press? There are opportunities like when a CBC TV program created an inaccurate portrayal of Mennonites.

Bill: Executive has talked about partnering with other mainstream orgs to fund research about what church offers and publicize the results to media colleagues.

Michael S: Journalists trust other journalists, so positioning ourselves that way could make CCP a valuable source of info on faith issues to mainstream journalists. The challenge is informing journalists when they need a faith perspective. They call for a Catholic consult when there’s a new pope, but they may not remember to ask how to interpret census data.

Bill: CCP could help mainstream media connect with Christian experts, provide impartial information.

Robert: Bloggers often work alone and would benefit from connections. Recommend CCP broaden membership to include religious bloggers who may be former journalists.

Keith: There is appeal for organizational communications staff to be part of association that supports the skills needed for their work, especially producing a newsletter or periodical for org (not only church magazines).

Michael S: This is already in evidence with some newsletter-type members such as Scarborough Mission and Spiritan. CCP is journalist focused but not specifically an organization of journalists. Either join ARCCC or join CAJ

Robert: To get more freelancers to join would perhaps require more defined benefits other than contest and conference, a re-visioning of what members can expect. What is payoff, especially with fee to join?

Bill: It would be beneficial to widen connections so one person isn’t gate keeper – everyone working for a member publication could be an active member. A way other magazine staff (e.g. regional correspondents) can join CCP.

Bill: Adding benefits brings up the question: What should be the primary focus of CCP’s energy? If our limited capacity of org led by volunteers is used up planning convention (traditionally one of the big tasks of CCP exec), is that best use of time? There is demand for training.

Keith: Has CCP considered hiring a part-time director to invest in CCP’s capacity?

Bill: The Word Guild and other groups have struggled with being able to financially support staff. We could expand offerings but money needs to come from somewhere.

Lloyd: TWG has seen success with creating regional chapters. Another success story is the Cardus-initiated but multi-faith informed Canada 150 “Thread of Stories”

Chong: It would be beneficial if membership widened to Canadian readership not just published in Canada.

Mathew. Some speakers have expressed concern about expanding the membership of the CCP to Christian communicators more broadly. It’s worth noting that many of the CCP’s member publications already have a dual-life in that sense: functioning as part of the church’s “communications department”” as well as a magazine/newspaper. (My own official title, after all, is “communications manager” for Lutheran Church-Canada.) If a communications department for a Christian organization puts out a publication (in print or online), I’d personally be in favour of expanding membership to include them.

Bill: We may need a sequel gathering to keep exploring these ideas, especially partnering with ACP, and encouraging regional chapters. If a national partnership between orgs doesn’t happen, it would still be possible for local chapters of different orgs to work together, e.g., a Vancouver chapter of TWG and one from CCP might plan an event together.

  1. Bill apologized for the need to change online connection instructions just before the meeting and for the sound quality problems during the meeting. He closed in prayer.

Leave a Reply