Monday, August 3, 2015

Change at The High Calling

For the last five years, I’ve been part of the editorial staff at The High Calling. We are a part-time, mostly virtual group, living in Texas, West Virginia, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania and a few places I’m likely forgetting. We’ve had staff members from as far away as Ireland, South Carolina and Australia.

Working with these writers, editors and fellow pilgrims on the journey of faith has been a remarkable, unforgettable experience. It’s one of those experiences that you cherish each day, knowing that it can change and perhaps end, but while you have it, it is a remarkable thing. What started as an idea in the mind of Howard Butt Jr. created a major presence in the faith and work area.

The announcement of change – that should probably be change in all caps – was made Friday night. A lot of discussion ensued this weekend, mostly on Facebook but some, too, on the post itself. The announcement generated some misunderstanding as well, and I’ve personally received a lot of email messages and private Facebook messages asking for any clarification possible.

Here’s what I know:

The High Calling will cease publishing as it has been at the end of August. Some form will continue – a couple of reflections each week and the Facebook page. But the regular posting of stories built around weekly themes will cease. The site will remain live and accessible.

The Butt Family Foundation, led now by Howard Butt’s son-in-law David Rogers, has decided to go in a different direction with other initiatives. It’s that simple. The High Calling uses the Foundation’s resources and attention, and the Foundation has every right to choose what initiatives it will pursue. My personal feelings, and those of the other staff members, are important to us, but really don’t have any bearing on what strategy the Foundation’s leadership decides.

The understanding of faith and work – living one’s faith in the context of work, including and especially in the secular world – is just now beginning to take hold. It is not a done deal that everyone understands and “gets.” Too many of us still separate Sunday from the rest of the week when it comes to faith. And considerable work remains and, I would argue, is going to become more important as Christians find themselves increasingly at odds with the prevailing culture.

Other groups are actively working the faith and work concept – LeTourneau University’s Center for Faith and Work, the Theology of Work Project, the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, and several more. None of them, however, has the online presence that The High Calling has. And the reason for that may well be that The High Calling was envisioned from the beginning as an online presence, and not only the web and social media properties for an organization or initiative.

The reality is that the change at The High Calling will leave a significant gap in the faith and work area. It’s an exaggeration, but perhaps not much of one, to say that, for faith and work, it would be analogous to The Wall Street Journal announcing it would no longer cover business news.

What I will miss will be the people I work with. We’ll find ways to keep in touch – we already do a lot outside the official High Calling channels via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. But losing that regular interaction, that opportunity to work almost every day with people who have come together to create something of value, not for themselves, but for the thousands of people who've participated in what we’re doing via the online world – that’s the part that’s hard.

So: Ann Kroeker, Charity Craig, Sam Van Eman, Deidra Riggs, Marcus Goodyear, Bob Robinson, Cheryl Smith, Dan King (#Fistbump), David Rupert, Dena Dyer, Kris Camealy, Laura Boggess, Tina Howard, and Katie Cherniss – thank you.

Marcus, Deidra, Katie and Tina – best of success with new Foundation initiatives.

To the thousands of members of the High Calling Network – thank you for those blog posts you created, those posts I read every day and tweeted on behalf of The High Calling. This was an incredible community of people, who were so open and caring that virtual always seemed real.

To all of you: thank you for how much you taught me. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside of you and create something wonderful. Thank you for living your faith through the work we did – and doing it over and over again.

Top photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission. Bottom photograph: one of my favorite photos of The High Calling staff.


Sandra Heska King said...

Some of my favorite guys and gals right there. I'm so glad I finally got to meet you in the flesh last fall. Trusting these relationships will continue... Thanks for this.

Rundelane Blog said...

Thanks for this, Glynn, and for your leadership over the years and in these past few days. You are a man of great integrity and heart. It's been an honor. It truly has.

Marcus Goodyear said...

Thanks for this, Glynn. It has been one of the great joys of my professional career to work with this team as long as it has existed.

Jennifer @ said...

Thank you for this, Glynn. It's been a joy working with you all these years.

Real Live Preacher said...

Wise words Glynn. I'v enjoyed working with you and getting to know you.

SimplyDarlene said...

When I first (and very hesitantly) swung open the doors Blog, after three clicks, I ended up at THC. And today as I look around, the majority of the people I know online came one way or another through channels of THC. Not only have I gained acquaintances, but friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, some of whom I've been blessed to meet in the flesh.

Thank you for the clarification on THC closing its doors. What a hard thing it must be for you folks who've worked and learned and spent so much time together. I hope all the editors know how they've not only influenced me, but my husband (and possibly crews of people within his charge, and even his boss's charge) as I've shared articles with him over the years.

May the Lord bless each of you as you continue to shine His light--online, at work, within your communities, etc.


Maureen said...

I had the privilege and honor of sharing some of my work at The High Calling.

THC became a gateway for me, allowing me to "meet" some of the smartest writers and editors around and, most of all, people who carry love in their hearts and make genuine efforts to show that love through the work they do daily.

That gateway, by the way, opened into the non-virtual world, for I've also had occasion to meet offline more than a few of the writers.

I once wrote about the meaning of community. I'll remember THC as a place where community was not just a word but a way of life.

Jody Lee Collins said...

thank you for fleshing out the reasoning behind the 'closing' of the doors at THC. I, like Darlene, have found most of my closest relationships and friendships online directly as a result of The High Calling's virtual community.

True, everyone will stay connected as has been done in the past, and who knows what God has for the future through the words of those who write online and in real life?

Much has been accomplished through the children of Israel being scattered. Who knows?

Planes, Trains, Roads | Charity Craig said...

Glynn - You are one of those amazing people I met through the High Calling. So much changed for me by being part of this online community. Thank you for all you've done to encourage and support so many writers (myself included). I'm looking forward to finding new ways to connect with you!

Laura said...

Thank you, Glynn, for putting words to something difficult to articulate. It's been such a joy to get to know you and watch your ninja ways :). Yes, this is not goodbye! I'm grateful for the time we've had as a team. I wonder what the next chapter holds?

Jen Sandbulte said...

Thanks for further explaining. Change is always hard. Always. But one thing I have learned. God can use change for his glory.

I LOVE the High Calling, and the friends I've met there. Many of which are in (RL) friends now. I'm honored to have been able to write a bit, and sad because Faith and Work is my passion.

I'm trusting God to use this change to spur on something incredible. Because I can't, and won't believe that it will just fade away and something great not rise up!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this perspective Glynn. I'm grateful for the work that you and so many others did at the High Calling. It has been a great place to write.

Anonymous said...

I'm really new to this party, but for maybe two yeas, I've had the privilege of reading the wonderful posts at THC. It's been some time since I have been in the professional workforce--i.e., w/ an executive, paying job, but I can tell you that back then, something like this was truly needed. I tried not to proselytize, but on the other hand, I saw no real division between who I was on the job and off, and found that I could witness for Christ in many creative ways. But what a wonderful resource this would have been to me then. I really have no idea how I found THC. I only remember the first blog I ever read (Ann Voskamp's) when I was Googling the phrase "Christian journaling." Up her blog popped! I had no idea that this virtual writing world existed or the multiple interweavings and networking connections. So who knows? Maybe I noticed that a blogger I enjoyed carried THC "button" on her blog and clicked on. I"m really not sure. But I was amazed by both the quality of the blog and the obvious integrity and giftedness of the bloggers. And then I saw *your* name, and recalled an email from Dan D. some time earlier, which connected us as authors who attended Central Pres, and whom he was trying to connect with a new author. So when I found you again at THC, I remembered exactly who you were. I've only written once for them a couple of weeks ago, apparently as things were starting to come to a close, and I considered that high calling of writing for them a high privilege. I really respect so many of the new friends I've met and whose work I appreciated at this meaningful website. Thank you for this excellent explanation, and you're right: Things change and those who orchestrate them have a right to change them. I also know that the Lord ultimately and sovereignly presides over change, and that you can trust Him. I'm so delighted to have made your acquaintance, even in this most circuitous, online way, when you are right in my own back yard! I wish you so well with your retirement and newfound time to pursue your writing gift in however God would have you use it! And just one of these days, I'm expecting to stand behind you in a Central pew and when you turn around during the greeting to finally shake hands with someone I've admired virtually. All the best to you during this transitional season!

Bonnie Gray said...

thanks for being The High Calling to me.. as you've said, the special gift that being an online fellowship is a world of difference than being a social media extension to promote products, goods or even messages. It's a blessing to have been a part of experiencing something real and authentic through you, your leadership through the gift of your faith, your writing and your editorial work. Somethings don't have to last forever in order to have a forever impact and gift - that goes beyond the limits of time. blessings, friend, as God will continue to lead each of you to new places of words, work and faith.. !! and we'll still be connected through fellowship of faith, fiction, friends. ;)

diana said...

In many ways, YOU are The High Calling to many of us. This is true for all of the marvelous editorial staff, past and present. But somehow, you epitomize the goodness and integrity of what THC has stood for in our lives most thoroughly. Thank you for your faithfulness over these years. Thank you for your prodigious output of good words, your technological facility, your grace under pressure, your honesty and your enormous generosity. And thank you particularly for these words today - they are helping to clarify what has happened and offering a lovely gift of grace in the process.

The High Calling was one of the very first places I found a sense of belonging when I ventured into the blogosphere five years ago. I will be forever grateful for everything I've learned through the work of this good, good place. And as Marcus noted in his farewell piece, it is the IRL connections I've made because of THC that have become some of God's best gifts to me during these years. I hope we will find a way to stay connected, both virtually and IRL, and I'll be perusing the Laity Lodge retreat list every year, trying to figure out which one would come closest to what I experienced twice in that beautiful canyon with the crew from The High Calling. Thank you, Glynn. Thank you.

spaghettipie said...

I am so grateful for your friendship, your wisdom, your servant's heart, and your example of integrity. I'm glad we can stay connected through other means, and I hope that we keep in touch!