Happy Birthday to us!
Ten years ago today, the name Episcopal Café was launched onto the internet and into the world. Its genesis came a year prior when Jim Naughton began blogging about the short-lived TV dramedy The Book of Daniel. With its premature (but not soon enough) demise, the blog had run out of content matter; but Jim’s interests in the wider Episcopal and Anglican world led him to continue the blog as the Daily Episcopalian. After several months; the idea formed of creating a blog with a team of contributors looking at different aspects of the life of Anglican faith and the Café emerged.
From the first Café post:
“Our aim is frankly, but we hope gently, evangelical. To the extent that we can speak intelligently, passionately, persuasively and truthfully—and to the degree that we manifest wisdom, humility and genuine concern for those we disagree with—we will succeed in drawing Episcopalians more deeply into their faith, and in persuading those without a spiritual home to explore our Church.
The new site includes Daily Episcopalian, a blog previously devoted to news and commentary on events in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. News items can now be found on The Lead blog. Commentary on the Church and Communion can still be found on Daily Episcopalian, but in its new incarnation the blog also features articles on theology, peace and justice initiatives and popular culture. A new blog, Speaking to the Soul, includes sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality.
Most of the art on the Café is provided by The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. The Art Blog offers additional information, and sometimes a brief meditation, on each piece. We also feature a growing collection of multimedia meditations.”
In essence, that mission remains the same and in many respects, the structure remains the same as well. Several teams of volunteers work tirelessly to ensure great content is available for our readers. Several people who were with the Café in the beginning are still part of the team; John Chilton and Andrew Gerns still work on the Lead and Ann Fontaine is our Speaking to the Soul editor and occasional Lead contributor. There have been some changes to the nature of that content over the years. The Lead and Speaking to the Soul remain of course and remain very popular. We’ve consolidated features and analysis under the Magazine umbrella and we’ve been adding podcasts to the mix. We feel we’re doing something right because our readership continues to grow, averaging over 120,000 unique readers each month in just the past six months (that’s a double what it was three years ago).
Perhaps the biggest change was needing to find a way to pay for the site. When launched, it was a ministry of the Diocese of Washington, but that long ago ended. As Jim Naughton stepped away, Jon White took on the role of Managing Editor and created a non-profit to support the Cafe’s mission. Now, thanks to the support and generosity of readers like you, the Café is self-supporting.
And soon, we will be launching a new web design that should make it easier than ever to find the great content you’re looking for. And we know that some of the changes will be an adjustment at first; but that seems to have been true since the beginning as well. In that same first post Jim closed with this:
“Today is our first day online, and we are having trouble with our comment function, so it is turned off for the time being.”
So, thank you for ten years of online community; and here’s to the next ten years!