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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Magazines face unclear future

Being relevant, sustainable key

These are challenging times for denominational magazines, as some fold and others face reorientation. That prompted an "Affirmation of Religious Journalism" statement by the organization that represents many church publications.

The Lutheran is a member of the Associated Church Press, the oldest interdenominational Christian press association in North America. In September the group's board approved a statement sought by members that it eventually sent to denominational leaders of member publications (www.theacp.org/acp-affirmation-of-religious-journalism).

"In recent years reorganization and strategic repositioning in many denominations in North America have led to the demise of a host of venerable denominational magazines, newspapers and news services," the statement said. Denominations affected included the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and Reformed Church in America.

Further, "many other churches' print and electronic news sources have experienced severe financial and staffing cutbacks and/or pressure to redefine their missions in greater alignment with corporate communication models and development priorities in their denominations." It asked leadership to "stop this serious erosion of religious journalism" and discuss the issues with ACP members and other journalists and communicators in their denominations.

The Lutheran did not attend the meeting. However, the magazine's prospects and the reasons why are clear and common to all church publications.

When The Lutheran opened with the ELCA in 1988, it was the only game in town. The Internet changed everything. Many sites and resources deliver the increasingly specific, unique information folks want — usually for free.


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