Program Schedule

12:00 – 12: 15 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Welcome and Intro to EPA 2021 Day 1

12:15 – 12:45 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Keynote Address: Walter Kim, President, NAE

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

A Conversation with Emma Green

Emma Green, Staff Writer, The Atlantic
Timothy Morgan, Director of Journalism, Wheaton College

Emma Green has worked at The Atlantic for nearly a decade and previously served as managing editor for the magazine’s website. During this session, Green will share how she develops and reports on a huge variety of religion stories from North Point ministries pastor/author Andy Stanley’s views on the November election, to President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith, and how the Hasidic Jewish community in New York has responded to COVID. She will talk about how she tackles a very complex beat: religion, politics, and culture. Don’t miss this session where she will be interviewed by Wheaton College’s Journalism Certificate Director Tim Morgan.

Overcoming Creative Challenges (panel)

Dan Stelzer (moderator), Art Director, Answers in Genesis
Sarah Gordon, Art Director, Christianity Today
Lauren Farr-Miller, Art Director, Message Magazine
Brian Mellema, Art Director, Focus on the Family

A moderated panel of respected, award-winning designers will share their experience about what it takes to create a successful publication. This interactive forum will bring designers together to discuss the various challenges they face in their work and how they work to overcome them. Learn valuable insights from designers and come prepared with your own questions and solutions to share during a roundtable discussion.

We’ll be covering a range of questions, including:
• How do you best work with your editors?
• Where do you turn for inspiration?
• What are some tricks you have learned to make the most of a limited budget?

Print Magazines That Only Work in Print

Aaron Hanbury, Editorial Director, NXTPG

We all wonder about the future of print publications in an ever-digitizing world. We see some magazine brands shutter, while others thrive. I’m convinced that the primary way to make print work in a digital age is to create reading experiences that are wholly different from online reading experiences. That takes in-depth design-editorial integration, and it takes editors committed to that process.

• What you will learn:
• How to identify editorial ideas that only work in print format
• How to conceptualize and execute those ideas in a collaborative editorial process
• How to ensure your digital expressions do not undermine your print publications

Deadline Writing and Ways to Cut Corners but not Sacrifice Accuracy

Michael Ray Smith, Journalist and Educator

The formula works. That’s the key to deadline reporting. Internalize the formula and your article will nearly write itself. Know the formula. Gather the facts. Check your information with your sources and you can turn the raw information into a published piece in two hours, maybe less. This session draws on your ministry of remembrance. It will remind you of all the tips and ideas that you know but may have forgotten.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

From Conception to First Birthday: What to Know to Launch a Podcast Successfully

Stephanie Rousselle, Founder, Gospel Spice Ministries

This workshop caters to future podcasters. Come with your idea, whether it’s a distant dream or a well-defined concept already, and we will help you take the next step–from launch to growth. We will discuss what you need to know before you launch, the key questions you should be asking and how to find answers, the real issues faced at the various stages, from conception to launch, and the steps to grow your podcast in the first year. Time permitting, there will be a Q&A.

• What you will learn:
• What to know before you launch a podcast
• How to craft a compelling concept, from idea to first episode
• How to grow your audience after launch

How Editorial and Design Collaborate

Sarah Gordon, Art Director, Christianity Today

Ted Olsen, Editorial Director, Christianity Today

We all know editors and designers depend on each other to produce each issue of a publication, and we can all probably agree it’s not always rainbows and puppies. CT’s Editorial Director and Art Director will share how we work through the tough stuff and what weird things make us better collaborators.

What you will learn:
• How to foster good relationships
• How to navigate conflict
• How to celebrate with and encourage each other

Managing Corrections, Feedback and Reader Trust with Your Newsroom

Paul Glader, Executive Director, The Media Project

How do you build trust with your audience when trust in the news is at a historic low? Journalism professor and entrepreneur Paul Glader, founder of VettNews, will explain simple methods and tools your news organization can use to build trust with its audience. One zone is to improve the way you manage corrections and feedback from your audience. The VettNews Cx tool helps newsrooms improve this process and it is being offered free to EPA members this year.

What you will learn:
• How to better label content as news, feature or opinion
• How to create better incentives for readers to help you improve accuracy and fix mistakes
• How these kinds of methods can help a newsroom improve loyalty from readers

Writing Powerful Stories

Anne Marie Winz, Writing Coach, Cru

Stories connect our readers with our mission, and they inspire people to join us in our work. Discover how can you write more compelling stories.

What you will learn:
• How to uncover three levels of conflict
• How to structure your work toward action
• How to add background so your readers care about the story
• How to write like you’re on location

4:00 – 5: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Live Video Meetups for various topics of interest

• Freelancers Social Hour
• Calling All Designers
• Managing Teams Remotely

5:00 – 6: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Intro to Freelancing (panel)

Randy Petersen
Michael Foust
Ann Byle
Joyce K. Ellis

Veteran freelance writers will share tips and best practices for launching a successful freelance writing career. Even those not new to freelancing will benefit from hearing the career experiences of these award-winning writers. (This is a bonus session presented in conjunction with a class of aspiring writers at Dallas Theological Seminary, but open to all convention participants.)

12:00 – 12: 15 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Welcome and Intro to EPA 2021 Day 2

12:00 – 12: 45 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Keynote Address: David French, Senior Editor, The Dispatch

1:00 – 2: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Crafting a Successful Editor-Freelancer Relationship (roundtable)

Ann-Margret Hovsepian, Freelance Writer
Jeanette Littleton, Freelance Writer and Editor
Jeff Friend, Freelance Writer
Diane McDougall, McDougall Editorial
Jesse Florea, Senior Editorial Director for Youth Publications, Focus on the Family

What do editors want from freelancers? What do freelancers want from editors? How can we make each other’s job easier? This roundtable, featuring five industry leaders representing both sides, will discuss the dynamics of developing effective relationships between freelancers and editors.

Best Practices in Reporting

Adelle Banks, Editor & Reporter, Religion News Service

The juggling act that is religious journalism can include short and long stories, breaking news and features, Q&A stories and projects.

• What you will learn:
• Tips on Q&A features and other interviews
• Tips on planning and execution of stories and projects
• Examples of the range of stories on the religion beat

Know Your Audience: The Power of Reader Data, Analytics, and Old-Fashioned Listening

Lou Ann Sabatier, Media & Communications Consultant, Sabatier Consulting

We live in a world that’s overflowing with information. Sifting through all the noise to extract the most relevant insights on your audience can be tough. As editors, marketers, and senior managers you have to stop, look and listen to your audience. Conducting audience research, studying web analytics, reviewing email performance metrics and practicing social listening will enable you to get a better understanding of your audience, which in turn will help you connect with them. It enables you to be customer-centric, rather than product led in your thinking. Audience research can help you prioritize how best to meet their needs or decide who to focus on, how to reach them, or what to offer them. It can also help provide evidence for marketing claims that you may want to make but (as yet) have no evidence to support. The best, most revealing insights are usually discovered when we are able to explore. Sabatier will provide information and tools that can help you shape your thinking, planning and execution in gathering information and data to deepen audience engagement.

Creative Elements in Photography

Bill Bangham, Photojournalist

Whether beginner or experienced professional, still or video, our vision always exceeds our ability to execute it. These 15 elements can help us narrow the gap between what we imagine and what we produce.

2:30 – 3: 30 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Visualizing Data

Sara Quinn, Design Consultant and Researcher

What is good data and where does it come from? Learn indispensable tips for mining data, making sense of it and using it to create relatable, engaging stories from a long-time faculty member at The Poynter Institute and former president of the Society for News Design.

Build Your Brand on LinkedIn: Pro Tips and Hacks

Brooke Miles, Founder, Delaware ShoutOut

LinkedIn is a great place to generate leads, nurture relationships, and grow your publication’s audience. It also has much more favorable algorithms (i.e. you can reach more decision makers) compared to sites like Facebook and Instagram. But it’s often overlooked and underutilized. In this workshop, you’ll learn proven techniques and “hacks” to maximize your experience on LinkedIn for the greatest success. You’ll learn ideas and strategies you can apply right away.

What you will learn:
• How to build a LinkedIn profile like a rock star
• How to attract your audience’s attention with easy prospecting and content strategies
• How to tap into key LinkedIn algorithms to stand out from the competition

Revise Like an Editor

Aaron Hanbury, Editorial Director, NXTPG

When it comes to revising a written composition—someone else’s or your own—every layer matters. In this talk, I work through the layers of whole composition, paragraphs, sentences, and words, including strategies and tips for using each more cohesively.

What you will learn:
• How to break down compositions into their component parts
• How to make each part as effective as it can be
• How to bring the parts (layers) together to form a cohesive piece

Magazine Marketing in a Digital-First World

Jacob Walsh, Vice President and Publisher, Christianity Today International

As publishing continues to shift toward membership models and “reader-generated revenue,” many marketers are wrestling with the best ways to package and promote content for added value. In this session, we will consider how to leverage the unique value of print and digital content, better communicate that value to readers, and discuss digital marketing tools that can make the process more manageable. Join Jacob Walsh, vice president and publisher of Christianity Today, as he shares key takeaways and lessons learned from his work with CT.

4:00 – 5: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Live Video Meetups for various topics of interest

• Moving from Print to Digital
• Denominational Publications
• What Are You Working On?

12:00 – 12: 15 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Welcome and Intro to EPA 2021 Day 3

12:15 – 12: 45 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Keynote Address: The Gospel and Mental Health

Kay Warren, Co-founder, Saddleback Church

Kay Warren will share from her own life and family experience the challenge of mental illness and how the church can follow Jesus’ example to care for and support people living with mental illness. By looking at God’s heart for people who are suffering, Kay will explain the Biblical basis for mental health ministries and practical steps for how every faith community can be part of the solution.

What you will learn:
• How to understand God’s heart for people living with mental illness
• How to be able to communicate the Biblical basis for mental health ministries
• How to explain the CHURCH acrostic as a model for mental health ministries

1:00 – 2: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Writing about Mental Health and the Church: The Why and How (panel)

Meryl Reist Gibbel, Clinical Psychologist, WellSpan Philhaven
Arthur Brown, Staff Chaplain, WellSpan Philhaven
Nelson Yoder, Pastor and Social Worker, WellSpan Philhaven

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 43.8 million – experiences mental illness in a given year. Many of these individuals turn to their church or their personal faith in search of support and guidance in times of emotional distress. Despite the prevalence of mental health concerns, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness in many Christian churches. The predominant culture of silence along with mistaken expectations and misguided attitudes often cause suffering believers to feel shamed, blamed, and alone in their experience of mental illness. Despite a growing desire to help those suffering with mental illness, church communities often report feeling ill-equipped to address the issues of mental illness and mental health in their pastors, church leaders, and congregation members. This breakout session will involve a panel of WellSpan Philhaven mental health experts and chaplains prepared to discuss: mental illness stigma in the church; success stories of faith communities effectively addressing mental illness and mental health; and the questions of why and how writers/ editors should and can address the issue of mental health.

What you will learn:
• Mental illness is a prevalent problem in the U.S., including within Christian church leaders and congregation members. There is still a stigma attached to mental illness in many churches.
• Churches can play a vital role in (1) promoting the mental health of their leaders and members, and (2) supporting members of their faith communities in recovery from mental illness. There are faith communities that are actively working toward these efforts and can serve as models for other churches interested in doing the same.
• Writers and editors of Christian periodicals have a unique opportunity to influence the larger Christian community in the areas of both mental health and mental illness.

How to Edit Photos for Maximum Impact on Your Audience

Bill Bangham, Photojournalist

A hands-on exercise in choosing photographs that compel the reader to look at your article, website or social media post. Good photographs always ask questions, not answer them.

Social Media and Our Social Witness

Daniel Darling, Senior VP of Communications, NRB

Social media has both elevated voices that were previously marginalized and contributed to a culture of canceling, shame and retribution. It has been an invaluable vehicle for connecting writers and their audiences and yet has been a divisive tool in creating divisions in the Body of Christ. So how should Christian communicators steward their voices in the digital age?

Writing Tips for Multicultural Audiences

Lisa Crayton, Freelance Writer and Editor

Effectively reaching a culturally diverse readership is challenging—but possible. Discover how to identify and write for multicultural readers of all ages. Discusses gospel-centered reasons to write with inclusivity, common myths and misconceptions, and best practices. Helps identify problem areas in content that hinder cross-cultural communications, and offers methods for improvement. Includes content sensitivity issues, using sensitivity readers/critique partners, and more.

2:30 – 3: 30 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Countering the Rise of Anti-Semitism in America

Susan Michael, USA Director, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

At a time when conspiracy theories are proliferating and political polarization is feeding anger and fear, anti-Semitism is growing in America. Learn how to recognize it and guard against what has been called “the longest hatred.” Learn about resources developed for Christian leaders that can both inform you and aid you as evangelical thought leaders and communicators.

Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing

Diane McDougall, McDougall Editorial

You might have heard some version of the saying, “I hate to write, but I love to have written.” Is that true for you? Once you’ve completed your research and conducted your interviews, what are your tricks for getting past the inertia and assembling the raw material? Bring with you a new assignment or something recently published, if you can.

What you will learn:
• How an “elevator pitch” can help you narrow down your focus
• Advice from experts for making your first draft a strong one, rather than a throw-away
• A few tips for taking draft 1 to draft 2

Marketing Made Personal: Building Meaningful Relationships with Your Audience

Lou Ann Sabatier, Media & Communications Consultant, Sabatier Consulting

2020 forced many publishers to deviate from their marketing plans. Events were canceled, budgets were slashed, and your audience expected you to deliver excellent content and customer service. Many of us were marketing on the fly, if at all. As we regroup, imagine a marketing strategy that recognizes that your audience is comprised of different people; you are focused on getting to know them as individuals, and you choose to build strong relationships that last over time. Sabatier will challenge conventional thinking when promoting your organization, publications, products and events. This session will include an overview, myths, facts and ideas to fuel your marketing.”

Christian Communications across Cultures: When the Same Message can Offend and Inspire

Geoff Peters, Chief Marketer, Operation Mobilisation

Operation Mobilisation (OM) has recently completed messaging research with Christians in seven countries around the world. From Australia to Ghana, and Hong Kong to Brazil, their research reveals popular message themes that inspire Christians in one culture, while offending Christians in another. As our audiences continue to become more international and diverse we cannot assume the same voice, tone, message and themes will always engage our readers. OM is making their research available to all EPA members through this workshop.

What you will learn:
• Shape your content for a multicultural audience
• Learn issues and fears which motivate Christians from other cultures

4:00 – 4: 30 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

EPA Annual Business Meeting

12:00 – 12: 15 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Welcome and Intro to EPA 2021 Day 4

12:15 – 12: 45 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Keynote Address: Jo Saxton, Author, Speaker, Podcast host, and Leadership coach

1:00 – 2: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Reclaiming the Name ‘Evangelical’ (panel)

Daniel Darling, Vice President of Communications, NRB
Walter Kim, President, NAE
Michael Wear, Founder, Public Square Strategies, LLC
Karen Swallow Prior, Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Four leading Christian communicators will discuss what it means to be “evangelical.” Is the term still viable in its original intent or has it become too politicized? Can the name be reclaimed or is it time to find another way to identify followers of Christ?

How To Grow Your Subscriber Base Using Social Platforms

Andy Walker, Director of Integrated Communications, Infinity Concepts

Do you want to grow your subscriber base? In this workshop, discover the most effective strategies for publishers and ministries to grow their subscriber base using social media platforms. You’ll learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more to get in front of new audiences. And we’ll show you how these channels can be used in conjunction with email marketing for maximum impact. The workshop will provide a practical framework that will help you develop a successful strategy for growing your audience online.

Rhythm & Flow: Taking Your Writing to the Next Level

Joyce K. Ellis, Writer and Author

Poor rhythm and flow in our writing can distract readers and even cause them to quit reading—something we never want to do. In this workshop we’ll look at ways to enhance our readers’ pleasure by varying sentence structure and length, creating emphasis where desired, and employing other tools in the writer’s toolbox to create harmonious balance.

M&M – Can Ministry and Marketing Be the Same?

Chris Maxwell, Freelance Writer

Why do we select the words, stories, and titles we choose? Maybe to get attention. Maybe to keep attention. Maybe to tell the best stories and most relevant news reports possible. But as we write and market what we write, how does ministry fit? What makes EPA different from the general market? This workshop investigates motives, and offers ideas for quality work — for both ministry and marketing.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

The Great Divorce: Detangling Christian Publishing from Celebrity Culture

Karen Swallow Prior, Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Celebrity culture and publishing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Their histories are as intertwined as the double helix of DNA. But must it be so? Can Christian publishing be decoupled from celebrity culture? Karen Swallow Prior will ask us to at least try to imagine it together.

Every Creative Can (and should) Lead: How to Bring Thought Leadership to Your Design Approach

Adele Mulford, Director of Creative, Make-A-Wish America

As a creative, it’s easy to approach work with a project-by-project mentality. However, every organization (whether they know if or not!) needs smart, strategic design leadership that infuses their workplace with excitement for opportunity and ladders up into organizational strategy. What if you could be that person? In this session, Adele will leverage her years of experience (and some hard-won insights) to inspire, encourage and mentor the creative leader in you.

Covering Christianity & Religion Internationally: Case Studies from

Paul Glader, Executive Director, The Media Project
Meagan Clark, Managing Editor, Religion Unplugged

Evangelical America is a growth engine for Christianity in the West. Meanwhile, it’s a small fraction of Christendom globally. How can American journalists think and report about the two billion Christians around the globe, from Africa to India to Latin America to Europe? From protestants to Catholics to Eastern Orthodox? And how can journalists who are Christians report on and understand people from other faiths? And why is any of this important? The two lead editors at, an award-winning, non-profit platform, will explore some case studies.

Revision Strategies that Work

Lisa Crayton, Freelance Writer and Editor

Some writers dread revision, others fully enjoy shaping a project until it sings. This workshop centers on revising to meet readers’ needs and helps identity common micro and macro content development issues. In addition to self-editing, it addresses working with editors and how to revise based on editorial feedback. Includes suggestions for balancing projects in varying stages of development to maximize time management and meet deadlines.

4:00 – 5: 00 p.m. EDT (GMT-4)

Higher Goals and Awards of Excellence Presentation