Leaving Church House, but not the Café

Here is an announcement of a big change for me, and a small one for Episcopal Café:

On December 11, I will be leaving my position as canon for communications and advancement for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to form Canticle Communications, a strategic communications partnership that will work primarily with church clients.

My partner is Rebecca Wilson of Akron, Ohio, whose work Café readers may remember from this summer’ s General Convention. Rebecca already consults for a number of Episcopal Church clients, including Seabury Western Seminary, Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland and the Chicago Consultation. In the last few months, she and I have also been working with the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

I will continue to work for the Diocese of Washington as a consultant. The Café will become editorially independent, but that change sounds more significant than it is; my bosses almost never asked me not to publish a story that I found newsworthy. The diocese will continue to act as the financial agent for the Café, so you can still support us by contributing to the Bishop’s Appeal. Just make sure to “dedicate” your contribution to the Café!

Our Web site, canticlecommunications.com, should be up and running soon. To see the story on my transition from the November/December Washington Window, click Read more. It was written for a diocesan audience, so it’s a little more “me centered” than a press release for a general audience would be.

From the November/December issue of Washington Window:

Jim Naughton, the diocese’s canon for communications and advancement is resigning on December 11 to form Canticle Communications, a strategic communications consulting firm focused on churches and faith-based advocacy groups, Bishop John Bryson Chane announced last month.

Naughton, the founding editor of the Web site Episcopal Café will continue to work for the diocese as a consultant.

“Jim has done groundbreaking work for us, and we’re very glad that we’ll continue working together even as he finds more ways to help the church,” Chane said.

Naughton’s partner in Canticle Communications is Rebecca Wilson of Akron, Ohio. Her clients include Seabury-Western Seminary, Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, the Diocese of Northern Michigan and the Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the Anglican Communion.

“I love working for Bishop Chane and for the diocese,” Naughton said, “and I’m also eager to explore this opportunity to help shape the way the Church presents itself to the wider world.”

During Naughton’s tenure, the diocese re-launched its newspaper, Washington Window, and its Web site (edow.org.) and instituted the weekly e-news letter Church House News.

He offered “visibility analysis” to parishes interested in raising their profiles, and coordinated the diocese’s 2009 speaker series on evangelism. The diocese’s annual fund-raising campaign, The Bishop’s Appeal, has increased by an average of more than 30 percent a year under his leadership.

Naughton said the diocese’s communications and development efforts would remain strong. “The Window has been (editor) Lucy Chumbley’s baby for several years now, so readers won’t see a diminution in quality,” he said. “Lucy Bremner and I will continue to work on the Bishop’s Appeal together, and Margaret Dimond and I will continue the revision of the Web site.”

Episcopal Café, a popular source of news and commentary on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, will become editorially independent, but the diocese will continue to act as its financial agent.

Naughton, who joined the diocese in 2002, is best known in wider church circles as the author of “Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right” (edow.org/follow), a frequent spokesman for the liberal wing of the Church, and as the editor of the Café. Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, recently appointed him to her Council of Advice, and he served, until last month, on the steering committee of the Chicago Consultation.

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