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Hallo again to all.

We are writing this week from a desk in the AO office covered in parish newsletters and magazines. We include in that clutter the electronic as well as paper editions we receive. This is one of the perquisites of being on the AO staff—we are able to spend time reading about other parishes around the Anglican Communion. It is a necessary and enjoyable part of keeping our website global in perspective and for helping us avoid the pitfalls of local parish, diocesan, or even provincial politics and tempests.

This week, for example, we learned about the Hawai'i Sacred Choir's premiere of a mass setting arranged and sung in Hawaiian at the Cathedral of St Andrew in Honolulu that will be featured in a service they will sing at Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, on 13 July 2014. Next we were immersed in a reflection on the book 'How God became King' by Tom Wright* in the Epping (Australia) parish magazine. With another click of the mouse, we discovered new initiatives in family and children's ministry as well as (a couple of pages later) a recipe for a lovely sounding tea pastry, both in the June 2014 parish magazine from Mottram parish in the Diocese of Chester, Church of England. One browser tab later, we read about efforts to support a young Kenyan's education by St Patrick's Church, Dalkey, in the Church of Ireland. We travel the world from our desk, and we regularly find enrichment in the connections we discover between our parishes around the Communion.

In many places, a clear distinction is made between events upcoming and events past by splitting those gone by and those still in the future into two separate publications. Of course, not every parish has the resources to prepare two publications. We find it is common for a parish magazine to combine some elements of recent past events with announcements of the upcoming ones. We enjoy the mix, as it more completely mirrors our experience of parish life.

We have read some well-organized and some not-so-well-thought-out newsletters. One of the latest items we ran across that we deem to be unfortunate is an article about an adult education book study. The editor had entitled it, 'God hates loneliness', and there was a picture of smiling people all identified as participants in the caption. The book sounded interesting, the format of the discussions was intriguing, but then came the sentence, 'The group is now closed to others'. If we were investigating this parish as a place to call our spiritual home, that one phrase would have raised a large red flag.

What exactly makes a good parish magazine or newsletter? We began a list:

  • We like to see a statement of mission or vision and a way for the reader to know how to contact the leadership, both ordained and lay.
  • We think the strongest publications we read include reflections from the clergy.
  • Many newsletters include prayers to read and use in private devotions. We like that - especially when there is an introduction or source attribution.
  • We like when there are articles explaining liturgical practice or music - something to deepen our understanding of the worship services we attend.
  • We enjoy when there is a variety of articles that showcase different ministries and their programmes.
  • Pictures that add value to an article or make the reader feel more connected to the parish seem to be the most successful.

So, dear readers of Anglicans Online, what do you think are the elements that a solid newsletter or parish magazine should contain? Please write to us with your ideas.

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

25 May 2014

*a.k.a. the retired Rt Revd N.T. Wright.


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