Founded in 1918 in New York City, Church Publishing Inc. is celebrating its first century this year. Although its first book, the Hymnal 1918, is still in print, the press has significantly broadened its publishing program. While it continues to publish liturgical and musical resources for the Episcopal Church, its list includes books on church leadership, pastoral care, and Christian formation, as well as more distinctly trade titles.
In 2003, the publisher began expanding to reach an audience beyond the church, adding religious books with wider appeal such as The Gospel According to Sam: Animal Stories for the Soul by William Miller and We Are Theologians: Strengthening the People of God by Fredrica Harris Thompsett. And in 2005, CPI acquired what was then its largest competitor, Morehouse Publishing, a publisher of trade titles for the religion market.
Today, CPI publishes between 60 and 70 titles a year for both children and adults. Many are geared toward what Mark Dazzo, senior v-p and publisher, calls “the none, done, the searching and the seeking,” referring to religiously unaffiliated readers, as well as those who are curious about religion.
As an example, Nancy Bryan, v-p, editorial, at CPI points to a March release, Beyond a Binary God by Tara K. Soughers, a priest and mother of a transgender young adult. “We decided to publish Beyond a Binary God because it reminds us that all of us are made in God’s image: trans people, like all people, reflect something of God both in the ways in which we share human commonalities and in the ways in which they are different,” says Bryan.
Another March release, Christ on the Psych Ward by David Finnegan- Hossey, describes how the author suffered from mental illness while in seminary. In September, CPI will publish Today Is a Baptism Day by Anna V. Ostenso Moore, illus. by Peter Krueger, a children’s book depicting diverse characters. And next year, the publisher will continue its In Conversation series, which features discussions between Christian leaders on issues believers face. The second book in the series will feature Rowan Williams and Greg Garrett, who will discuss the significance of listening to faith and the writing of good fiction.
In addition to serving an evolving audience, Church Publishing is the official publisher for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.—the governing body of the church that meets every three years.
Looking ahead, publisher Dazzo predicts even more expansion in CPI’s publishing program. “I see Church Publishing growing in areas that start with our core and expand to address the needs and concerns of the broader Christian market,” he says, “books and resources that engage progressive and thoughtful Christians on stimulating topics.” He plans to do books on environmental and LGBTQ concerns, racial reconciliation, evangelism, faith, and wellness.