Publisher Wendy Grisham says her new imprint, Jericho Books (booth 3628), which officially launches today, will be reaching out to the “disassociated, disestablished, and disgruntled” within the Christian community. She explains: “The disassociated are the ones that walked away from their religion. They may have lost their faith, might be taking a break, or just fed up with the establishment. The disestablished are secular. They have an opinion but don’t have a dog in the fight on religious issues. They might call themselves spiritual but not religious. The disgruntled are those who have stayed in the church but want to push the boundaries. This group also includes many who were disassociated but have returned.”
Grisham, who admits to being one of the “disgruntled” and left of center, says the evangelical church is “hemorrhaging 20- to 30-year-olds,” and many people who want a deeper faith “are not finding it in traditional churches.” With Jericho, part of Hachette’s Nashville Division, she wants to “keep the conversation going across the divide between the religious right and left.”
Grisham feels the church should not be exclusive but “radically inclusive”—something she believes its founder would agree with. “I don’t think Jesus would approve of the country club church. I think he would say, let’s open the doors and make this a community. Let’s open this up to people who are displaced, homeless, single moms, gays and lesbians.” She says author Justin Lee, founder of the Gay Christian Network, is not welcomed in some churches.
Grisham is seeking nontraditional authors with “new perspectives” for her list. Launch books include Fall to Grace by Jay Bakker; Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian McLaren; Selling Water by the River: A Book About the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way by Shane Hipps; and Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee.
All four authors sign today starting at 2 p.m. Jericho will also give out tote bags and celebrating with cakes and drinks. Grisham notes that her authors are donating a percentage of royalties to nonprofits, which reflects the spirit of the imprint. “For me, Jericho Books is a mission I want to live out, not just talk about.”