The Pilgrim Press, the publishing arm of the United Church of Christ with a legacy that dates back 400 years, is getting a new look, launching a new website, issuing new books and planning a major presence at the UCC General Synod in Milwaukee in June.
Debuting today (April 30) is The Pilgrim Press' new logo and relaunch of The Pilgrim Press website. Managing Editor Rachel Hackenberg has also announced three exciting new books now in the works that will be published before General Synod.
"The Pilgrim Press is a bold voice with a rich heritage," said Hackenberg. "Long before Colin Kaepernick knelt, English Separatists challenged ecclesial norms of kneeling as an act of faith, printing pamphlets to prove their point. Long before we debated the language of The New Century Hymnal, the Puritans wrote their own translation of the Psalms so their faith community could sing together. Their Bay Psalm Book in 1640 was the first English language book to be printed in North America, making ours the oldest English language publishing tradition in North America."
"And yet times have changed over the past 400 years," said Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, Associate General Minister, Justice & Local Church Ministries. "Our collective understanding of the detrimental impact of colonization has evolved, as has our commitment to acknowledging the harm caused by the annihilation of the first peoples of this land. The enslavement and commodification of people of African descent and the subjugation of non-European settlers in North America changes our awareness of our complex history as a nation with much to celebrate and much to grieve. So with prayer and discernment, Justice & Local Church Ministries has made the decision to modify the Pilgrim Press logo to honor that tension between truth and tradition."
The new logo has been changed from the Mayflower to a book framed by a compass, Blackmon said, "to emphasize the truth of exploration versus the lie of discovery. The capitalization of Pilgrim has been removed to depict our identity as wanderers versus settlers of occupied land. The new logo has tested well in focus groups and we are hopeful it will be embraced warmly by all."
"Over time, The Pilgrim Press has marked its pilgrimage with symbols of a book, a meeting house tower, and iterations of the Mayflower," said Hackenberg. "We are pleased today to represent the journeys we publish with the symbol of a compass that recognizes the many paths we follow in response to the One Who Guides Us."
Forthcoming titles "highlight that call to faithful exploration," notes Hackenberg, "from churches expanding their competencies to leaders navigating institutional change to each of us participating in God's work in the world."
These two books will be released just in time General Synod in Milwaukee.
• Multi: The Chemistry of Church Diversity by Paul Nixon, the author of another popular title from The Pilgrim Press: I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church. This book is expected to be an invaluable resource for congregations that want to engage their multi-contextual communities.
• Dynamic Discernment: Reason, Emotion, and Power in Change Leadership by Sarah Drummond, the new President of Andover Newton at Yale, offers a toolkit for leaders on the landscape of change.
Also at Synod, The Pilgrim Press will be holding book signings by some of its authors and holding drawings for book prizes at its booth in the exhibit hall. And in a special pre-Synod event on Thursday, June 20, The Pilgrim Press is hosting an all-day workshop on how to write a strong book proposal, for writers of all genres who dream of being published. Information and registration on TPP's website. The cost is $25.
As Hackenberg emphasized, "We are all pilgrims, striving after insight in life and faith, delighting to understand the Spirit in our own words. The Pilgrim Press—the pilgrim press—is a daring adventurer and a trusted companion along the way, a testimony that there is 'more truth and light yet to break forth.'"
"We are a denomination that has always committed to wrestling in the complexities of truth and tradition. We are people who, however imperfectly, are committed to human equity and love of all creation. We are a church that has always engaged in active resistance to the marginalization of any people," Blackmon said. "As we experience a resurgence of targeted repression of religious freedom, the legacy and commitment of Pilgrim Press is needed. Our righteous response to this resurgence is a vibrant publications outlet for theological thought and spiritual practices that might be silenced without our commitment."