The annual Anglican Editors Association (AEA) conference held online, via Zoom, June 5-12, was an opportunity for diocesan paper editors and communicators, as well as Anglican Journal and General Synod staff to focus on digital publications.
Host Catherine Pate, communications director for B.C. diocese and conference host, and AEA President Mark Hauser, editor of Dialogue for Ontario diocese, facilitated four online sessions from their homes in Victoria and Kingston, respectively. The conference was originally planned for Victoria but was moved online due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Matt Morrison, owner of Tithe.ly Sites (formerly Ascend), described the benefits of online publications, such as cost-effectiveness and the ability to reach vast audiences quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for the Anglican Journal and diocesan papers to build and expand their digital presence. Many diocesan papers are now offered in print and digital format and the Rupert's Land News is digital only. Options for reading The Messenger currently include subscribing to receive a print edition by mail, or reading a digital copy of the paper at www.edmonton.anglican.ca.
Many members of the Edmonton diocese have worked with Morrison to launch their parish website on the Ascend and/or Tithe.ly platforms, or know him from the parish website workshops offered by the Edmonton diocese. A Christian, Matt is passionate about creating easy-to-use websites for churches and helping people understand the web in language they can understand. In January, he partnered with online giving provider Tithe.ly to create Tithe.ly sites which offers website development, including tools for online giving, events management, electronic newsletters, sermon podcasting and much more.
The Diocese of B.C., one of many Anglican Church of Canada dioceses to launch websites on the Tithe.ly platform, is piloting a new feature which will give parishes the ability to share news and events with the click of a mouse. Tithe.ly will be rolling out this new feature for all parishes and dioceses very soon. Tithe.ly Sites is also developing a messaging platform which it hopes launch by the end of the summer.
Since the merger, Tithe.ly Sites has been able to substantially reduce its fee for developing and hosting websites. Parishes and dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada can now purchase a Tithe.ly website for $149, plus a monthly hosting fee of $19. This price reduction will be passed on to the Edmonton diocese and parishes already on the platform.
With a Tithe.ly Sites website, parishes will be required to create a free Tithe.ly Giving account. Registering with the Diocese of Edmonton link enables a discounted transaction rate when a donation is made to your parish through Tithe.ly. The diocese was able to negotiate a group transaction fee as we have multiple parishes signing up for Tithe.ly giving. (It’s important to note that this registration link simply entitles you to the discounted rate. The diocese has its own online giving account which is entirely separate from your church account.)
The business session of the AEA Conference included reports from president Mark Hauser, treasurer James Sweeny, and Anglican Journal Editor Matthew Townsend. Also in attendance was Joe Vesci, General Synod Director of Communications. Diocesan Post editor Susan Down shared tips for growing a digital audience, such as using a combination of captivating headlines, short stories and great photos, localising national stories and making space for the story subject’s voice. As always, a highlight of the conference was a critique of diocesan papers and suggestions for improving newspaper designs and design software skillsets by Saskia Rowley, art director for the Anglican Journal.