Advent marks the beginning of the church’s year, and this Advent will also mark the beginning of a new phase in the life of the Episcopal Café. As that season and new beginning draw near, I wanted to share with you what’s happening. So, what’s next for the Café? Hopefully, lots more of the same great news and contributions that have been the Café’s hallmark. As I said to Jim Naughton, the Café’s founder, my primary goal is to maintain the integrity of the Café and ensure it remains the prominent place for news and insight about the Episcopal Church.
Much of the current team will be continuing; Ann Fontaine, John Chilton, Andrew Gerns, and Weston Matthews will be continuing as part of the team that produces the Lead. Joining them will be myself, Eddie Isom, and David Streever. Eddie has a long background in broadcast and print journalism and David is an independent web consultant who is active in public policy advocacy.
In addition I’m pleased to say that several new folks will be joining the Café in other roles. Jennifer Brandlon, from Portland, OR, will be joining our editorial board and bringing her many years of journalistic and public relations experience. Kathryn McKey-Dunar, former Youth Missioner in Milwaukee and currently an independent communications consultant in Boston, will be joining as our web designer and Social Media guru. Along with Ann Fontaine, the Rev. Martin Elfert, Diocese of Spokane, and the Rev. Anne Smith, Diocese of San Joaquin, will be working on developing feature content as well. I’m also happy to say that our contributors for Speaking to the Soul will still be around, producing the same great reflections and devotional pieces as always. I expect to be adding several additional people to the Café team in the near future as well.
But the Café needs a new home and a new platform; it has outgrown its current host and the platform is clunky and increasingly unreliable. Working with the Café’s webmaster Bill Joseph, we’ve developed a plan to accomplish this during the week of Thanksgiving in order to re-launch on December 1st. As part of this move, we’ll also be taking the opportunity to redesign the site to allow us to take full advantage of current technology as well as to make the Café mobile-friendly.
With the redesign, there will be one significant change to how our content is organized. The Lead will stay the same, offering news on the church and the life of faith in America, and Speaking to the Soul will also remain as it is. However, the Video Blog, Art Blog, and Daily Episcopalian will be brought together in a new section we’re calling the Magazine. In this section we’re hoping to focus on a different theme each month and bring you stories, reflections, and features built around that theme. We’ll be posting our themes in advance and inviting your submissions as well.
The other significant change is that we will need to solicit donations to keep the Café running; our overhead isn’t huge but it isn’t insignificant either. We’ve already set up the Café as a non-profit corporation and have applied for 501(c) listing. But that designation may take several months to be completed. In the interim, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beckley, WV, has agreed to act as financial agent for the Café to allow us to offer you the opportunity to make a charitable donation in order to let the work of the Café not only continue, but thrive.
I have been honored and humbled to be allowed this opportunity to guide the Café forward, and I am excited about working with team members (both old and new) who will make it possible. We are very excited about this next step in the Café’s life, and we all hope that you will like what we offer and continue read and discuss and debate what we post.
Jon White, Editor to be