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Communication program restructured at Church Center


New public affairs unit, ’Episcopal Life Media’ group launched.

Communication resources serving Episcopalians, seekers, and media professionals in diverse geographic regions are newly strengthened by reorganization of work based at the Episcopal Church Center.

New collaboration with dioceses in each of the Episcopal Church’s nine geographic provinces is integral to the reorganization, which also launches a new public affairs unit to coordinate media relations, and reconfigures current online, print and video communication programs into one integrated media group.

This approach “offers greater flexibility for in-reach to the church and outreach to the world,” said Linda E. Watt, the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer, in announcing the new structure, which includes the possibility of basing some operations at a satellite office in Los Angeles while other functions continue at the Church Center in New York City.

The reorganization also “builds upon the recommendations and accomplishments of the Church Center’s communication staff in recent years,” said Watt, who has reconfigured current Church Center personnel to staff the two newly delineated areas.

Canon Robert Williams, who has directed the Episcopal Church’s Communication Office since July 2004, now moves into a new role as director of “Episcopal Life Media,” Watt said, noting that in this capacity he will oversee a working group that integrates current online, print and video operations with the Episcopal Life monthly newspaper and the Episcopal Books and Resources unit.

Watt also announced the appointment of Neva Rae Fox to lead the new public affairs unit. Fox joined the Church Center staff in February 2007 after seven years as communication director for the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Her new job title is senior program officer for public affairs.

Williams and Fox will work closely together in sharing current communication management duties, a change Williams described as “very welcome and beneficial to bringing new energy to media relations and public discourse in particular.”

Both Episcopal Life Media and the public affairs unit will operate within the triennial 2007-2009 budget approved by General Convention, Williams confirmed.

Other senior staff members within Episcopal Life Media will include video/multicast producer Michael Collins; Episcopal Life Online editor Matthew Davies; art director Wade Hampton, Episcopal Books and Resources general manager Bernice Lucas; publishing operations general manager Larry Moore; and the Rev. Jan Nunley in the new role of executive editor, and anchor of regular new video and “multicast” reports.

Nunley will bring to her new role 33 years’ experience as a reporter and commentator in television and radio journalism. She will also continue her leadership in communication research and analysis, “new media” applications, and in the editing of the “epiScope” news blog. Nunley will anchor the new monthly “Episcopal Life Focus” video “multicast” set to debut September 13 online and for distribution to local cable-access channels.

“One of the first goals for Episcopal Life Media is to build a strengthened configuration of freelance reporters and communication volunteers spanning the Church’s nine geographic provinces, Williams said. ”We will also make a priority of consulting with dioceses that have little or no current communication infrastructure so that new partnerships can be built and resources shared in ministry across the church"

Fully integrating new online, print and video resources with the monthly Episcopal Life newspaper and Sunday bulletin-insert editions is the current focus of the new media group, Williams said, adding that increased reporting in Spanish, French and other languages spoken by Episcopalians continues as a priority, together with greater application of “closed-captioning” technology.

“An added bonus is the creation of new synergy between Episcopal Life and Episcopal Books and Resources,” Williams said. “We have new opportunities to build thematic approaches that highlight and strengthen various ministries.”

A full review and refinement of Church Center-based websites is also among priorities for 2008, along with comprehensive reporting next summer on the every-decade international Lambeth Conference of bishops of the Anglican Communion, Williams added.

Meanwhile, the new public affairs unit will “serve as an expanded bridge between the media and mission and people of the Episcopal Church,” Fox said.

The public affairs web-based “NewsLine” will continue to expand its services to media professionals, while the companion “InfoLine” will strengthen its responses to inquiries received from the general public and individual Episcopalians.

These new efforts “enhance awareness among media professionals and the public at large concerning the diverse ministries of the Church,” Fox said.

Fox brings to her new role nearly 30 years’ experience in communication, public relations and journalism. She also served the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey as newspaper editor, communication officer, and Standing Committee member. Concurrently she was principal of her own communication firm, the Fox Group. She is active in her local parish, St. John’s, Somerville, New Jersey.

Williams builds upon a nearly 22-year career in Episcopal Church communication, the newest chapter of which involves steps to establish, together with colleagues in Brazil and England, “a new international partnership to help Anglicans and Episcopalians in other parts of the world develop much-needed church communication resources and infrastructure.”

In the past three years, Williams has led New York-based staff teams in reorganization of the Church Center’s media, web and bookstore operations while also overseeing press relations for milestones ranging from the release of the international Windsor Report through the election and investiture of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“I look forward to a new approach that will be of greater service to dioceses, congregations and individual Episcopalians across the Church’s nine geographic provinces,” Williams said.


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