Thursday, December 17, 2009

Disciples World to Fold

I received a rather shocking email yesterday.  It came from DisciplesWorld magazine, the non-official journal of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Disciples World came into existence in 2002 after Christian Board of Publication decided it could no longer afford to publish Disciple Magazine.  The founders of DisciplesWorld heroically stepped in and created an award winning magazine.  Because it was independent of the General Church structure it was able to be more objective and more critical when necessary.  It took on big issues and controversial ones as well. 

I am saddened by this news, in part because I appreciate the great work done by Verity Jones (editor), Sherri Emmons (managing editor), and Rebecca Woods (News Editor).  I'm also saddened by the loss that will be felt by our denomination.  The question now is, how will we stay connected?  Who will tell the news and the stories from a Disciples perspective?  Where will the committed critics go to call us to account -- as Michael Kinnamon and Jan Linn did in the most recent issue of the magazine?

Those of us who are bloggers can do our part to spread the word about what's happening in the denomination, but we don't have the resources to provide news coverage at the level that this magazine does.  But, until we figure something out, I'll do my best to be a voice from within -- if you have ideas, why don't we start sharing them?

Below is the full text of the press release, with more information available at the web site. 

DisciplesWorld magazine, website to cease publishing; non-profit to dissolve
DisciplesWorld, the award-winning journal of news, opinion, and mission for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will cease publication after almost eight years.

Citing declining subscription and advertising revenue, and charitable gifts, Publisher and Editor Verity A. Jones said the non-profit entity that publishes the magazine — DisciplesWorld, Inc. — is also dissolving.

DisciplesWorld was launched in 2002 by James Suggs and Robert Friedly, retired publisher and editor (respectively) of The Disciple. Friedly and Suggs hired Sherri Wood Emmons as managing editor. Verity A. Jones was hired as editor and publisher and Rebecca Bowman Woods as news editor in 2003.

DisciplesWorld won numerous awards from the Associated Church Press, a trade association for religious publications. Following its first year, DisciplesWorld received second place in the “Acorn Award” category for best new publication. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, it placed second in the “Best in Class” category for denominational magazines, and in 2008 it won the top award for editorial courage for the January/February 2008 issue on the ordination of gays and lesbians.

The magazine’s subject matter included controversial issues such as war, gun control, and immigration. In November 2008, the editors devoted an entire issue to the survivors of the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana, 30 years after the tragedy.

Faced with declining revenue from subscriptions, donations, and advertising, DisciplesWorld came close to shutting down in 2007 and again in 2008. In early 2009, the magazine received a major grant to formulate new strategies to adapt to the changing publishing landscape. DisciplesWorld had planned to re-launch its website in January 2010 with expanded features, including the ability for site users to post news articles and share content.

Jones said, “We made a valiant effort. We chose to move forward rather than just hold the course through the recession. I am saddened that this publication is coming to an end, but I am proud of the magazine, its staff, readers, writers, and supporters.”

By unanimous action of its board of directors, DisciplesWorld, Inc., is dissolving and winding down. The corporation will liquidate its assets to attempt to meet obligations to creditors. Any donations received will be used to pay those obligations.

Jones noted, “We thank our current subscribers for their support, and we regret that at this time, we are not able to refund unfulfilled subscriptions. We invite you to consider making a financial gift to DisciplesWorld in gratitude for this publication. Gifts will help us close with integrity.”

The DisciplesWorld website — — will remain live during the wind-down process. Web visitors can read past news articles, and current subscribers can continue to access premium content from the magazine, including back issues and study guides. Updates on the wind down, including future contact information, will also be posted to the website. Gifts in gratitude for the publication can also be made online.

The editors are currently working on a plan to publish a final issue. Updates on the final issue will be posted to the website.

Digital versions of published articles and back issues of the magazine will be available for purchase on Jan. 15 through

In 2009, DisciplesWorld launched a second magazine in partnership with International Disciples Women’s Ministries (IDWM). The closing of DisciplesWorld will not affect the publication of Just Women which will continue to be published by IDWM. Subscribers can expect the Winter 2010 and future issues to be delivered on schedule. Adonna Bowman, executive director of the Office of Disciples Women and secretary/treasurer of IDWM said, “We anticipate a smooth transition, and while we grieve the loss of DisciplesWorld, we embrace the opportunity for Disciples Women to publish their own resource.”
Jones also expressed her gratitude for DisciplesWorld founders who are named on the magazine’s masthead, and for start-up supporters Joe and Nancy Stalcup and the J. Irwin Miller family. “These visionaries gave the church a great magazine,” she said.

From 2002 through mid-2009, DisciplesWorld published 10 issues a year. As a cost-cutting measure, the magazine decreased its page count in 2009. It moved to a bi-monthly schedule with the July/August 2009 issue, but increased the number of published pages at that time.

In addition to a magazine, DisciplesWorld published daily religion news updates, reviews, and articles on its website,, and launched a community publishing and social networking site, The Intersection ( in July 2009.

For more information, visit

No comments: