Rev. Bill Shillady met President Bill and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton for Easter brunch in April 2015, and from that point on he would lend his support during what became one of the most acrimonious presidential campaigns in American history. He offered to send her a devotion every day, and she agreed.
Each morning, he began sending words of encouragement and quotes from Scripture, sometimes based on the events of the previous days. He wrote them himself for three months; then enlisted the help of about 20 other clergy and laypeople who contributed devotions. Today, 365 of the over 600 devotions written for Clinton are collected in Strong For a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Abingdon, Aug. 15).
“She said that it was the first email she read every day,” Shillady told PW. “She often told me the devotions and prayers from many who supported her helped her get through the darkest times of the campaign.”
Clinton, he noted, has roots in the Methodist church, attending Park Ridge United Methodist Church as a young person living in Illinois. “Her Methodist roots go very deep,” said the reverend. “She is a person of faith and though she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve, in my heart of hearts I know she is a true disciple of Christ.”
Clinton first met Shillady at a 9/11 memorial in 2002. Later, with her daughter Chelsea, Clinton attended Park Avenue United Methodist Church, where Shillady was pastor on New York’s Upper East Side. Both their friendship and the book came as a surprise to Shillady, who said he never planned on publishing the devotions written to Clinton.
“I wrote the book because she encouraged me to,” said Shillady, who is now CEO and executive director of the United Methodist City Society in NYC. “Right after the election I had a long, poignant phone call with Secretary Clinton and she said the nation needed to read these.”
She agreed to write the foreword, and Shillady approached Abingdon Press, the publishing arm of the United Methodist denomination.
“This partnership made sense to everyone involved and we were thrilled to be part of this project,” said Tamara Crabtree, executive director, marketing and sales for Abingdon Press.
Abingdon and public relations firm DVL Seigenthaler, hired to assist with national media, are targeting all major morning and evening shows on big networks—such as CBS, ABC, and NBC—as well as news channels such as CNN. They are also targeting news outlets such as NPR, the Washington Post, New York Times, the Atlantic and others for interviews with Shillady and other coverage.
The publisher is also in the process of securing coverage on major Christian outlets such as Sojourners and the Christian Century, as well as radio and television programs and podcasts, according to Crabtree.
Further, Abingdon is working closely with brick-and-mortar and online retailers, including Barnes & Noble. “We’re working with each retailer—whether indie stores, national chains, or online retailers—to craft promotional packages and in-store displays based on their needs,” she said.
A robust online and social media promotional campaign is also planned for the book’s release. “We're reaching out to fan groups such as Pantsuit Nation and others [for review coverage and support] through online advertising and social media campaigns," she said, also mentioning Clinton's own Facebook page as a contact point.
“Based on the response we’ve already received, we’re looking at a second print run,” said Crabtree, who declined to reveal the initial print run. “This is a strong book telling the story of the 2016 presidential campaign through the lens of faith.”
According to Shillady, Strong for a Moment Like This provides both insight into Clinton’s life and hope for the future. “Hillary Clinton is a very gracious person, though there is no doubt she was brokenhearted by the election,” he said. “What has helped is her faith, her family, and the love she feels from those 66 million people who voted for her. And she’ll continue to advocate for the marginalized.”