The start of a new year seemed as good a time as any to re-launch the Diocesan Post under a new name and in a new format. The Diocesan Post is now Faith Tides and will be published exclusively online, on a web platform developed by the national church. The Anglican Journal and Rupert’s Land News will also be launching their web presence on this platform, which was developed partly in response to the fact that Canadian Heritage will be phasing out funding for printing costs over the next few years.
The decision to be an early adopter of the platform was motivated by the fact that the Diocesan Post had already started to transition away from print in 2020 with the introduction of a “digital” version of the newspaper — a PDF version of the paper laid out with three columns, which saw its debut in October 2020. The move to a digital paper was motivated by the September 2020 Synod and election of a new diocesan bishop. Given that the deadlines for the print edition of the paper are five weeks in advance of their publication, the print paper wouldn’t have allowed the news of the Synod and election to be shared in a timely manner.
In 2021, the Diocesan Post was only published in print three times. The last ever print Diocesan Post was sent out to readers in December 2021. Catherine Pate, director of communications for the diocese, commented on the need to move to an online format: “When I started in this position in 2016, we talked about how long it would be before we’d be ready to move the Post online. It seemed then like that day was a long way off. But so much has changed, and particularly since 2020, our way of relaying information has turned the digital corner, practically overnight.
“This has been no less true for the church and how we communicate — even livestreaming our worship services. We know that there are still places in our region where the Internet cannot be counted on, and this impacts a smaller and smaller, but no-less important part of our population. However, continuing to absorb the costs associated with printing and mailing copies to our 1,500 subscribers — a number that represents a 50 per cent decrease since the General Synod began requiring “opt-in” subscriptions rather than relying on parish lists — is not faithful financial or ecological stewardship. Sharing the stories and news of life in our diocese with every corner of our region continues to be a priority for this new digital platform, and as we have in 2021, we’ll work with parishes to ensure it reaches everyone who wants to receive it.”
A look back at the history of the Diocesan Post
This isn’t the first change to the newspaper. The diocesan archives contain diocesan newspapers and magazines dating back to the early 1800s. A version of the paper called The Challenge appears to have been published from 1944 and the first issue of the British Columbia Diocesan Post, as it was known until 1992, was published in June 1963. In that first issue, Harold Sexton, who was Archbishop and metropolitan of British Columbia at the time, encourages clergy to spread the newspaper to everybody on their parish rolls and comments on the 5 cents annual subscription fee and the challenges presented by high printing costs. So, not a new challenge it seems!
The issue also highlights some of the changes in the church and the wider world over the last 60 years. Two of the most noticeable changes being the ordination of women into the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Canada — the Anglican Church Women recently held a Zoom celebration to mark the 45th anniversary of women’s ordination — and the phasing out of the term “Indian,” which was still widely being used when the June 1963 issue was published.
Why Faith Tides?
The switch to an online edition offered the perfect opportunity to reflect on the paper’s name, and Diocesan Post no longer seemed to fit. As an online publication, the word “post” felt antiquated. The name also no longer suits the editorial direction that the paper has slowly been moving toward: away from simply reporting on news and events from around the diocese — many of which are now shared on the diocesan website and in the diocesan and parish e-newsletters — and toward a focus on the ways in which our churches are working to further social, racial and ecological justice. In recent years there has been a focus, in particular, on the diocese’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples and reconciliation efforts.
So, why Faith Tides? We wanted a name that would reflect the fact that we are a faith-based publication, hence “faith.” And one that would also reflect the unique character of this diocese of islands and inlets and the straits and ocean that are an ever-present part of life here. Also, an ever-present feature of our lives over the last two years: change. Whether that’s on a global level through the impacts of the pandemic; on a national level through an awakening to racial injustice and Indigenous genocide; or on a provincial level though the climate emergency that has cost so many lives and livelihoods in BC. But there is hope that in this ebb and flow of change, we will be renewed as people of faith.
We also want Faith Tides to be a space where people of faith and doubt can walk alongside one another, share their stories and grow together. To this end, we will continue to publish stories from across the diocese about the incredible work parishes are doing to further social justice and live out their faith in these islands and inlets, whether that’s distributing food, holding space for reconciliation or hosting talks and book groups. We will also create space for reflections and feature articles.
Faith Tides will continue to publish ten issues from September to June. To be notified of the latest issue, subscribe to the diocese’s newsletter at bc.anglican.ca/subscribe. You can reach the editor at [email protected].