WASHINGTON, DC: Awash in a swirl of controversy, the Episcopal Church is attempting to revitalize its image by hiring its first-ever director of communications.
WASHINGTON, DC: Awash in a swirl of controversy, the Episcopal
Church is attempting to revitalize its image by hiring its first-ever
director of communications.
The successful candidate - who, according to the church’s Web page, must
be prepared to ’develop a clear and coherent image of the Episcopal
Church in the public media’ - will be immediately forced to confront
some thorny challenges.
The church has traditionally been pegged as a haven for the
Its members are considered to be tolerant but not necessarily
’Like many mainline Protestant churches, (the Episcopal Church) has been
losing members,’ said John Green, director of the Bliss Institute for
Applied Politics at the University of Akron. The church numbered 3.5
million baptized members in 1970 but only 2.3 million active baptized
members two years ago.
Green suggested that the church has been under pressure from within.
Some Episcopalians, particularly baby-boomers, have become more secular,
while older members are more conservative and dissatisfied with the
church’s socially liberal tendencies. In particular, gay rights -
especially as it relates to the clergy - has become a hot-button
A recent incident involving two American priests accentuates the need
for a more unified PR front. The priests, both from the church’s
conservative wing, were consecrated as bishops in Singapore rather than
elsewhere because they sought to ’reestablish the unity that has been
violated by the ... denial of basic Christian teaching.’ The move
triggered a strong reaction from presiding bishop Frank Griswold who,
according to the Episcopal News Service, criticized the unorthodox
procedure and denied his church was ’in crisis’ as it sought to address
The new director of communications will report directly to Griswold and
be installed as a member of the church’s management team.
- See religion PR feature, p20.