The Anglican Church of Canada’s Continuing Education Plan will no longer offer clergy and lay members free subscriptions to the quarterly magazine Practice of Ministry in Canada, a move that could jeopardize the magazine’s survival.
Last December, Jenny Mason, director of General Synod’s pensions department, wrote to the magazine’s board announcing the change, effective immediately.
There were two reasons, Mrs. Mason said in an interview. “We were not too happy with the governance structure of PMC and for the cost of providing those subscriptions, there are other avenues that could provide plan members with the continuing education information.”
Pensions administers the Continuing Education Plan, which is a mandatory benefit for all Canadian clergy, lay employees and General Synod employees.
Members will receive a letter about the ConEd plan’s actions and may decide to buy their own subscriptions to PMC, Mrs. Mason said. “Some members think it’s one of the best publications in the country; some don’t know they get it,” she said.
PMC magazine carries several pages of course listings, as well as advertisements from educational institutions, which readers can use to plan professional or personal development.
The magazine is administered by an ecumenical board that includes representatives of the Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches and goes to an ecumenical readership. However, the Anglican church provides the bulk of the publication’s support and manages its subscription list.
According to the subscription office, PMC magazine has 2,453 subscribers. Of these, 1,664, or 68 per cent of subscriptions are purchased at a discount ($17.75 per year compared to the regular rate of $20 per year) by the ConEd plan for a total expenditure of about $29,500 per year, or about 65 per cent of subscription revenues.
The magazine is not losing money and advertising revenues have increased over the past couple of years, said editor Ann Bemrose. The winter issue has just been published and there will be a spring issue she said, adding, “I’m not predicting the death of PMC.” When asked whether the magazine would have a long-term future without the Anglican funds, she said, “Good question. PMC costs money to print.”
Board chair Rev. Andrew Asbil, rector of Redeemer Anglican church in Toronto, said the board is reviewing ways to function more effectively. One board position – a representative from the Canadian Baptist Federation – is vacant.
“Over the past five years, we didn’t have the right skill base (in publishing) around the table,” said Mr. Asbil. Another problem, he said, is lack of accountability. “We are accountable to our readership but we don’t have ties to any governance bodies in our organizations.”
The board is reviewing options for the future of the magazine, Mr. Asbil said.