Doubts about mergerby John A. Lapp, executive secretary emeritus, Mennonite Central Committee
I am of two minds regarding the merger of Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) and Third Way Media. On the one hand, organizational streamlining makes sense. On the other hand, neither Third Way Media nor its parent, Mennonite Mission Network, have been in the publication business.
As one who remains to be convinced that electronic media is an intrinsic improvement over print journalism (except that it is faster), I worry over how mature judgment, spiritual discernment and deepening conversation can be maintained in the church community without vigorous periodicals, stimulating pamphlets and engaging books. Herald Press and Faith and Life Press have surely been less than perfect, but for nearly 100 years they provided significant Sunday school materials and a long list of books essential to Mennonite life and ministry. These presses, along with their bookstores, have been essential ingredients to the Mennonite witness.
I am grateful for the contribution of Cascadia, Pandora, CMU presses and Good Books to Mennonite thought and witness. But don't we also need a publisher who represents the ministry of the denomination? In this case it is important to recognize that Mennonite Publishing Network represents both Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. I would regret if the transnational character of the Mennonite voice would be further weakened.
My hope is that the vision that inspired Faith and Life Press, Mennonite Publishing House and Mennonite Publishing Network will be strengthened and extended. My prayer is that the publication enterprise will maintain its high standard of productivity.
I feel so deeply about the significance of a vigorous and imaginative publishing program that I propose that whenever the new structure is established that a campaign be launched immediately to raise a substantial fund to support the nurture of this part of the church's life and witness.
Associated Issue: The beat of mission - November 2010
Associated Article: MPN-Third Way Media merger approved by MC Canada
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