Who knew there were that many of us?

There’s something uniquely encouraging about meeting people who share your passion and work.

Earlier this month, I attended my second annual convention for the Evangelical Press Association in Lancaster, Pa.  I met writers, editors, photographers, designers, and publishers for Christian web sites, newspapers, and magazines both local and national.  Some of them were old friends from last year’s convention in Denver, Colorado, which had been called “COLABR8” (a play on the word “collaborate” as spelled on a license plate).

Collaboration is a great value for us to remember – as fellow Christians, as members of the press, as colleagues in a profession, and as evangelicals.  For Tracy and I, it’s also important for us to remember as missionaries.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” – Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

I’ve been posting about the convention this week, trying to catch up with all the sessions, lessons, and experiences.  This year and last year, there were things I wanted to share every day, but I don’t like posting much about being far from home when my family’s still there.  It just seems like inviting trouble to publicize my absence, especially because someone actually bombed our small-town mailbox while I was in Mongolia back in 2005 (yes, really).  People have often reminded us of dangers overseas while overlooking problems here at home.

Two of the seminars I most enjoyed last year were on advanced writing tips and legal issues related to journalism.  Having left the daily newspaper just over eleven years ago, I’m still a bit rusty about writing effectively and efficiently, so those tips were a good mixture of reminders and new information.  One in particular will be especially helpful to me working largely alone as writer and editor.  The legal issues were things I have sometimes wondered about but had never received any formal instruction.  Some of this year’s most valuable sessions for me were on best practices for electronic publications and social media.

If you want to see descriptions of this year’s workshops and keynote speakers, you can read the program here.  Pages 21-29 also feature several of my photos from last year’s convention.

I’ve already posted a little about those sessions I most enjoyed this year, but I haven’t really explained the EPA itself.  It’s a professional association of more than 300 periodicals, organizations, and individuals with a combined circulation of more than 20 million readers.  Print and online Christian publications (magazines, newspapers and newsletters, and content-rich websites) comprise most of the EPA, but there are many freelancers and other individuals who belong as associate members.

The association was founded in the late 1940s and held its first convention in 1949 in Chicago (where it will return next year).

The EPA website states that the group works “to strengthen evangelical periodicals through inspiration, instruction, and networking,” and the annual convention is a key part of that work.  The web site also states that “The vision of the Evangelical Press Association is to see an engaged community of members whose continued pursuit of excellence builds the kingdom of God.”

I like that EPA encourages members to honor God with diligence, excellence, honesty, and community.  I also agree with and respect the EPA’s core valuescode of ethics, and doctrinal statement, both professionally and theologically. The core values are:

  • Faith – We are committed to advancing the work and witness of Jesus Christ through biblical truth, which informs and permeates everything we do.
  • Excellence – We aspire to the highest standards of professionalism, accountability, and authenticity in our viewpoint.
  • Credibility – We strive for accuracy, context, and credibility in our publications to earn the trust of our readers and the approval of God.
  • Community – We express our collegiality by encouraging each other through competition, recognition, and networking.
  • Education – We will provide the very best resources to enhance our competency and effectiveness.

It was about eighteen months ago that I stumbled onto the EPA through a Google search for Christian journalism associations.  I hadn’t known what I’d find or whether it would be worthwhile, but I’m very glad to have become part of a community of fellow believers taking seriously His Word and His calling to share it with others.

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” – Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)

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