We’re heading toward the anniversary of Covenant’s relaunch, which means it’s time for a little review. Last year, I noted that we had no idea whether the blog’s relaunch would be met well, but it was. Our online traffic increased tenfold, our presence on social media was exploding, and we’d seen a great outpouring of goodwill from folks across the Church, even as we occasionally waded into controversy. Not least, a great number of people welcomed us at General Convention, and told us how much they appreciated our work.
At the same time, I made some promises last year: we’d start working on a new, more attractive website, we’d add a number of regular contributors from around the Communion, and we’d take on new topics, including issues around the Communion a lot more often.
So, did we deliver?
Well, we’ve worked on a new website, and I’m happy to say that it will be unveiled next week, during the anniversary of our relaunch (which, almost by coincidence, falls in the week of a Marian feast). The featured image above is a screenshot from what’s in development: it will be much slicker, photo-driven, mobile- and tablet-friendly, and generally “fit for purpose.” (We’ll also resolve the lingering difficulties in our comments section, which has been a frustration to many, I know.)
Here are two more screenshots.
Expect some further experimentation on the site in the next few months, as we test out some of our new features and as we continue to make this an innovative, creative space, not just intellectually, but also aesthetically and technologically.
(Many thanks to Matt Townsend, who recently joined the staff of The Living Church as news editor, for doing the bulk of the work in preparing this new design.)
We’ve welcomed 12 new contributors since last year from around the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, including
- the Rev. Canon Dane Boston, canon for Christian formation at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina;
- the Rev. Dr. Jordan Hillebert, tutor in theology at St Padarn’s Institute in Cardiff, Wales, and curate at Christ Church Roath Park;
- the Rev. Dr. Dane Neufeld, rector of All Saints, Fort MacMurray;
- the Rev. Dr. David Ney, priest at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Calgary;
- the Rev. Esau McCaulley, assistant professor of New Testament at Northeastern Seminary (and soon-to-be “Dr.”)
- Mother Miriam, CSM, Mother Superior of the Eastern Province of the Community of Saint Mary, finishing an STM at Nashotah House;
- the Rev. Brandt Montgomery, chaplain of Ascension Episcopal School in Lafayette, Louisiana, and D.Min. student at Sewanee;
- the Rev. Dr. Bryan Owen, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana;
- the Rt. Rev. Dr. George Sumner, the Bishop of Dallas;
- and the Rev. Dr. George Westhaver, principal of Pusey House, Oxford.
We are set to welcome many more in the coming weeks, especially contributors outside the United States.
We certainly addressed Communion-wide issues this past year. Our posts on the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council marked some of the highest levels of traffic we’ve yet seen, with posts from Esau McCaulley, Wesley Hill, Neil Dhingra, Neal Michell, Matthew Olver, John Martin, Jeremy Bergstrom, Matt Townsend, Graham Kings, Tony Clavier, and me (click here and here for handy links of all the posts).
Similarly, our Canadian contributors and several guests organized a series of posts devoted to analyzing ‘This Holy Estate,’ the recent report on sexuality from the Anglican Church of Canada. And I committed myself to responding to papers delivered at the Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion seminar (see here, here, and here).
Pop culture was our thing this year as well. Jonathan Mitchican inaugurated a new series of posts, “Sifting the Stream,” which I’d commend to you. Erin Jean Warde, a new guest contributor, has recently started a set of posts on “Comedy as Commentary”; they’ll continue through the fall (at least). And we had a series of other posts on topics ranging from Vikings and Star Wars to changes in TV culture to beards, bourbon, and lumbersexuals.
On top of that is our usual mix of devotional material, “Things Episcopalians Say,” cultural commentary, and liturgical reflection; it made for a stimulating year.
I’m glad to say the blog continues to move forward. More people are subscribing all the time, our social media presence has increased by 20 percent, and our regular traffic has increased by more than 10 percent.
Guest contributions are beginning to be a regular affair. Fr. Jordan Hylden, now a colleague on The Living Church‘s staff as an associate editor, together with guest contributor Fr. Keith Voets, kicked things off with a post in the wake of the 2015 General Convention: “A way forward together.” Fr. Porter Taylor of ACNA wrote on liturgical time, Kevin Dodge wrote about “Dante in love,” Prof. Timothy Sedgwick (VTS) launched some questions on the future structures of the Communion, and even Screwtape came out of retirement to provide a little humor.
We’ll continue to work on increasing guest contributions, especially on issues of controversy, so that Covenant and The Living Church continue to play host to important conversations around the Anglican Communion.
Can you expect anything else in the coming year, beyond new contributors, a flashier website, and more conversations? In a word, yes. We have various projects under consideration or in development: a weekly Covenant podcast, regular interviews, photo essays. But more on that anon.
As I promised last year as well, in the coming year you can expect that
we’ll be keeping to our core mission and identity. We’re committed to “seeking and serving the full visible unity of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church,” as our About Us states. That full vision helps keep all of our individual efforts in perspective, especially during troubled periods in our respective locales and churches. I am also committed, as an editor, to ensuring that our writing not only remains substantive but also charitable and constructive, committed to the edification of the Church, “that wonderful and sacred mystery.” We won’t descend into hopelessness, faithlessness, or a lack of good will and love for our brothers and sisters.
Until next week, enjoy our review of the past year on social media, feel free to peruse the archives, and look forward to the appearance of a further, renewed Covenant site.