The email was short and to the point. The reader found one of the articles in the last issue of Connections offensive. They understood that the article was the author’s opinion, but felt that by publishing the article the editorial board for the magazine must support it. So they asked to be removed from the mailing list for any future issues.
FYI, there is no “editorial board” for Connections, just myself and communications director David Dreisbach. I responded to the reader that articles published in Connections do not necessarily match my own opinions, or that of the diocesan staff or even the bishop. We often publish articles with viewpoints I do not agree with. And I have published (and written!) articles that others do not agree with.
I shared with the reader that as editor, my aim is to connect people with many different backgrounds and opinions and viewpoints and give them a place to begin the process of having conversations, even if they are disagreements. That the most important thing is even though we may think differently, we remain together in beloved community. It is (in my opinion) the best thing about the Episcopal Church – we worship together in unity even though we may not see things the same way.
The now ex-reader thanked me for my thoughtful response, but repeated their request to be removed from the distribution list.
This exchange got me thinking that we should probably add something to our masthead that says “opinions published do not necessarily reflect that of the bishop, etc.” But also that with a new year on the horizon, it was an opportunity to connect with our readers to talk about what Connections is, and what it isn’t.
You may have noticed over the last few years that Connections is no longer a newspaper that reports on events; rather it is a place where stories and opinions and reflections can be shared. The editorial calendar for 2019 is listed here. If you see a topic that you would like to weigh in on, please do! You don’t have to be a theologian or a scholar to have an opinion, so you don’t have to be one to submit an article to Connections, either.
Maybe you’ve read a book related to one of the upcoming topics and would like to tell others about it. Or maybe you’ve experienced something that you think others can learn from. (Anybody ever fail at anything? You have a chance to share your wisdom about it in May.)
You may just want to share a great story about something that is happening or has happened at church. I often receive requests for “someone from the diocese” to write a story about something happening at their church. But I firmly believe that no one can tell your story better than you can. Even the best reporter may not pick up every nuance or get the story just right. But as a participant, you can – so send it in! We always wrap up every issue with a section called “Connecting,” just for these stories. And our September 2019 issue, “Storytelling II,” will be solely focused on congregations sharing their stories, as they did in our “Storytelling” issue this past January.
My hope is that you will read something in every issue of Connections that excites you or resonates with you or makes you think. But if you do read something that you really don’t agree with, I hope that you will take it to your priest or some fellow parishioners and hash it out together – where it fits within your understanding of scripture and tradition and our current culture. You may come away with a different perspective. Or, you may just agree to disagree. Either way, I pray that you don’t walk away. All voices are welcome, so hang around and be a voice in our diverse and beautiful beloved community.
Connections editor Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communication for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.