Salvationists gather at EPA convention

by Warren L. Maye

“The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” —Psalm 68:11, KJV

The Salvation Army was well represented at this year’s EPA Lexington ’24 Christian Media Convention, a gathering of professionals from across the spectrum of Christian publishers. The event is hosted by the Evangelical Press Association (EPA). Now in its 76th year, the EPA remains the world’s largest professional organization for the evangelical periodical publishing industry. Its stated core purpose is to strengthen these periodicals through inspiration, instruction, and networking. Its mandate is derived from Psalm 68:11.

Salvation Army magazines such as SAconnects, The War Cry, Southern Spirit, and Caring Magazine and National Headquarters typically send delegates to EPA. This year, delegates came from NHQ and the Southern and Eastern territories, including five from the Eastern THQ Communications Department. At the convention, they increased their interpersonal connections, attended many of the workshops and sessions led by 42 speakers, visited exhibitors who offered ministry resources, and celebrated with award winners.

SAconnects took home the top award for cover design (our third first-place win in this category) as well as 11 other awards for overall merit, writing, photography, digital and traditional illustration, graphic design, and (for the first time) video, for “From Mat to Mission: Jordan Burroughs,” which finished second in the short-form category. We also took second for single-theme issue, Vol. 9, No. 2, on food insecurity and healthy eating. The War Cry and Caring also received several awards in a field that included such titles as Christianity Today, World Vision Magazine, and other notable publications.

Salvation Army staffers enjoyed evenings together and were amazed by an end-of- conference excursion to the Ark Encounter, a full-sized model of Noah’s Ark built by Answers in Genesis in Williamstown, Ky.

A call to discipleship

Nona Jones spoke during the opening session. A member of The Salvation Army’s advisory board in the Western Territory, she is also a preacher, business executive, entrepreneur, and author of three books. She currently serves as global ambassador for YouVersion, maker of the 500-million-download Bible App. Her corporate leadership duties include serving as the head of Global Faith Partnerships at Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook.

During her presentation, Jones, who in 2022 brought a memorable message to members of The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board in Los Angeles, focused on the importance of belonging and why platforms, be they print or online, should be used strategically to help equip people to grow and mature as community leaders in their work and ministries.

“The strategy of technology starts with the ‘Why?’” Jones said. “Why are we doing this? Because every single one of you in this room have not just been called to build your audience—you’ve been called to make disciples.” She shared stats, thoughts, and strategies from her acclaimed guide, From Social Media to Social Ministry: A Guide to Digital Discipleship.

A holy war of words

Russell Moore, a theologian and editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, was the keynote speaker. Named in 2017 to Politico’s list of 50 influential people in Washington, D.C., Moore is the author of eight books. His most recent, Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America, was the subject of his challenging address during the closing dinner.

Regarding the work of journalists, Moore made a distinction between storytelling—“being a credible witness to something that is true”—and “story selling” of “stories that are a means to an end in order to manipulate.” He said, “Every human being is living in that kind of world right now.”

Moore also made clear the mission and calling of every Christian journalist: “One of the ways that the gates of hell are being battered down is through the stories you’re showing, through the news that you’re reporting, through the analysis you’re providing, and through the examples that you are giving.”

The convention delegation included guests from Germany, Grenada, Barbados, Sri Lanka, and the Lausanne Movement. In her welcome letter to all attendees, Sandra Glahn, EPA board president and a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote, “Our worship will remind us that the Holy Spirit is the one who ultimately empowers us to do work that matters.”