Joe Thoma, Executive Director
Charlotte Indico, Assistant Director
Eva Stimson, Associate Director for Communications
Jerry Van Marter, Associate Director for Meetings
ACP Leadership — Meet our Board of Directors
The Associated Church Press traces its origin to a Saint Louis, Missouri, meeting in 1916. Editors covering the quadrennial meeting of the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.) decided that they should meet on a continuing basis. Wartime constraints in 1917 and 1918 prevented meetings those two years.The second meeting was convened in Cleveland, Ohio, in June 1919. E. C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, was elected president of the then-named Editorial Council of the Religious Press. Jaspar T. Moses, National Bulletin, and F. M. Barton, The Expositor, were chosen secretary and treasurer, respectively.In 1937, the name of the organization was changed to the Associated Church Press, and the constitution was revised. In 1947, a new constitution was adopted based on the recommendations of a special study committee headed by William B. Lipphard, Missions Magazine. Under the provisions of that constitution, membership in the Associated Church Press was extended to publications rather than to individual editors. However, provision for individual associate membership was made. The constitution has been revised periodically; the current edition appears below as bylaws.The “Statement of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice,” which appears below, was adopted by the Boston convention in April 1983.The Associated Church Press cooperates in educational and postal matters with religious press associations in the United States and Canada. It is also a corporate member of the World Association of Christian Communication, London, England.
Past Executive Directors
|1951-1961||Dr. William B. Lipphard|
|1961-1974||Dr. Alfred P. Klausler|
|1974 -1977||The Rev. Dennis E. Shoemaker|
|1977 -1990||The Rev. Donald F. Hetzler|
|1990 -1998||The Rev. Dr. John Stapert|
|1998 -2001||Joe Roos|
|2001-2006||Mary Lynn Hendrickson|
|2006 –||Joe Thoma|
|1.||No official records records of elections were kept of the meetings from 1916-1918.|
|2.||David D. Baker died shortly after the 1950 convention and Harold E. Fey succeeded him.|
|3.||Roger R. Kahle died in his second year of office and Mary Lynn Hendrickson replaced him.|
ACP Mission Statement
The Associated Church Press is a professional organization brought together by a common commitment to excellence in journalism as a means to describe, reflect, and support the life of faith and the Christian community. Among its purposes are:
– to provide mutual support and encouragement, fostered by personal and professional relationships;
– to promote higher standards of communication through professional growth opportunities and recognition of excellence;
– to join in interfaith and public discourse with those who seek to build a more just society for all God’s people.
The Associated Church Press Bylaws
This organization shall be known as the Associated Church Press.
The purpose of the Associated Church Press is to promote acquaintance and fellowship among members in the United States and Canada, to foster collaboration among staff of its member publications and its individual members, and to stimulate higher standards of religious communication to enable its members to serve and challenge the Christian community to live out its faith and to strive for peace, justice, and the common good in contemporary society.
The Associated Church Press is organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, namely, to encourage, promote, and advance the cause, growth, and understanding of Christianity by providing educational and practical assistance to its members. The organization shall not be conducted or operated for profit, and no part of its net earnings shall inure to the benefit of any officer, director, or any individual; and none of such net earnings nor any of the property of the organization or any other assets of the organization shall be used otherwise than for any of the purposes of the organization. The organization’s activities shall be limited to those permitted to an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. In the event of liquidation, dissolution, or winding up of the organization, whether voluntary, involuntary, or by operation of law, none of the property of the organization nor any proceeds thereof nor any other assets of the organization shall be distributed to or divided among the members of the organization, but shall be distributed exclusively to organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as hereafter amended or supplemented, which shall have satisfied the requirements of Section 508(a) of such Code if and to the extent applicable to them.
(1) Publication membership in the Associated Church Press shall be open to print and digital periodicals and other publications that subscribe to the purpose set forth in Article II and the Statement of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice, that are recognized by churches or denominations as church publications, are affiliated with, or independently serve church constituencies.
(2) Individual membership shall be open to retired or former staff members of ACP publications, to individual professionals in religious communication, to journalists specializing in religion reporting for secular media, to individuals who act as liaisons between religious organizations and the media, and to people employed by or retired from denominational publishing and communications agencies.
(3) Affiliate membership (non-voting) shall be open to institutions, organizations, and business firms whose purposes are in general consonance with those of the ACP, and to non-Christian religious publications. Affiliate members shall be eligible for committee membership as provided herein but shall not be eligible to serve as officers or on the Board of Directors. Affiliate members shall not have the right to vote on any matter submitted to the vote of the membership.
(4) Applicants for publication membership shall supply to the Membership Committee a statement of the publication’s purpose, the nature of its constituency, and other information as requested. The Committee shall have discretion to consider any relevant matters regarding a publication’s suitability for membership. The Membership Committee shall act on applications subject to confirmation by the Board of Directors, as provided herein.
(5) Membership in this corporation is non-transferable and non-assignable.
(6) Membership will terminate in this corporation on any of the following events: (a) receipt by the Board of Directors of the written resignation of a member; (b) the death of an individual member; (c) the failure of a member to pay dues, as specified in Article XI; (d) the failure of a member to retain the incidents of qualification for membership as described in these Bylaws; and (e) for any other cause, inconsistent with membership, after due notice, hearing, and determination by the Board of Directors in these Bylaws.
(1) The Officers of the Associated Church Press shall consist of a President, a Vice-President, an Executive Director, and a Treasurer, each of whom shall perform the duties and exercise the function usually associated with such offices. The Executive Director shall have the authority to certify the Bylaws, resolutions of the members and Board of Directors and committees thereof, and other corporate documents as true and correct copies thereof.
(2) Each officer shall be elected for a two-year term, except that the Executive Director shall be elected by the Board of Directors for a term of three years; each officer shall serve until his or her successor has been duly elected and qualified. The Board of Directors shall determine the Executive Director’s salary and other conditions of service and employment. The election of officers shall take place at the annual meeting of the members coinciding with the expiration of the previous term holder.
(3) In the interests of continuity and efficiency the Executive Director and the Treasurer shall be eligible for reelection. The offices of Executive Director and Treasurer may be held by the same person. The President and Vice-President shall be ineligible for reelection until one term shall have intervened.
(4) In the event of the death, resignation, or change of occupation of the President which in the judgment of the Board severs the professional affiliation with a member publication, the Vice-President shall immediately become President; any vacancies of other offices for like reasons may be filled by appointment by the Board of Directors.
(5) Each President upon completion of term of office shall become a member of the Board of Directors for the ensuing biennium.
(6) Each officer must be either an employee of a publication member or an individual member.
(7) Neither the President nor the Vice-President nor the Executive Director nor the Treasurer shall sign any statement or pronouncement on behalf of the Associated Church Press unless duly authorized by the Board of Directors, except on matters concerning which the Associated Church Press has clearly stated its position.
(8) At each annual meeting the Treasurer shall submit a report of receipts and expenditures for the past year and a proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
V. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
(1) The management of and responsibility for the affairs of the Associated Church Press shall be vested in a Board of Directors, to be composed of the officers, the most recent living Past President, and four additional members elected, after nomination by the Committee on Nominations and/or from the floor, by a majority of the delegates present at an annual meeting. The additional members of the Board must be either employees of publication members or individual members.
(2) The members of the Board of Directors elected at an annual meeting of the members shall be elected to three-year terms (less-than-three-year terms when a Director is elected to fill a vacant board position) and until their successors have been duly elected and qualified. In the interests of administrative continuity and efficient management, Directors shall be eligible for reelection to one additional term. The total number of terms served by a Director shall not exceed two, including term(s) as an officer, except for the one (third) Board of Directors term as a Past President. Directors elected to fill vacant Board positions also shall be eligible for reelection to one additional term. The terms for the five elected members of the Board shall be staggered.
(3) The Board of Directors shall meet annually in connection with the annual meeting of the Associated Church Press at the place where such annual meeting is scheduled. At its discretion and when the affairs of the Associated Church Press so warrant, the Board may meet at other times and places during the year, including by telephone or electronic conference. Each board member shall be notified in advance of any meeting, and the attendance of five shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Proxy voting is prohibited.
(4) The Board of Directors or the Executive Committee shall have power and at its discretion may commit such power to the President and the Treasurer to invest any part of the reserve funds of the Associated Church Press as they deem appropriate.
(5) The Board of Directors shall have power and at its discretion may commit such power to sell, assign, and transfer any and all stock and other registered securities owned or held by the Associated Church Press in any capacity and to execute such assignments, powers or attorney, and other instruments and documents as may be necessary, proper, or convenient to accomplish any such sale, assignment, or transfer. Contingent upon the authorization of the Board of Directors, the President and the Treasurer may exercise the above stated powers.
(6) (a) Any or all of the members of the Board of Directors may be removed with or without cause by vote of those persons entitled to vote at a meeting of the members. (b) A director may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Board of Directors or to an officer of the corporation. Unless otherwise specified in the notice, the resignation shall take effect upon receipt thereof by the Board of Directors or such officer. Acceptance of such resignation shall not be necessary to make it effective. (c) Vacancies in the Board of Directors shall be filled by a vote of those persons entitled to vote at a meeting of the members. A director elected to fill a vacancy caused by resignation, death, or removal shall be elected to hold office for the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.
The Committees of the Associated Church Press shall consist of the following:
(1) An Executive Committee, composed of the officers and the most recent living Past President, shall perform such duties and exercise such functions as delegated by the Board of Directors. At any meeting of the Executive Committee an attendance of three shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(2) A Committee of Membership composed of the most recent living Past President, the Executive Director, and at least three other members to be appointed by the Board of Directors, one of whom shall be a current member of the Board of Directors. The Membership Committee shall review all applications for membership, considering all relevant information concerning the applicants. It shall make a recommendation to the Board of Directors concerning each publication-membership and affiliate-membership application. The Membership Committee shall have discretion to approve or to disapprove of individual-membership applications, subject to review by the Board of Directors. The Membership Committee may consider any relevant matters regarding an individual applicant’s suitability for membership; individual applicants shall supply samples of their work, as requested. The Membership Committee shall also have discretion to consider any relevant matters regarding an affiliate-member application; applicants for affiliate membership shall supply information as requested. The Board of Directors shall make the ultimate determination on all membership applications.
(3) A Committee on Nominations consisting of one director and at least two additional members to be appointed by the Board of Directors not later than three months before the annual meeting who shall present nominations for officers and members of the Board of Directors. The Committee on Nominations shall strive to ensure representation of the Association’s diversity, and shall consider both publication members and individual members, when preparing nominations.
(4) The Board of Directors may establish additional committees or advisory commissions to serve ongoing or temporary functions.
(5) All committee members or advisory commission members must be 1) employees of publication members, 2) individual members, or 3) employees of affiliate members.
(1) The Associated Church Press shall meet annually at such places as the Board of Directors shall designate.
(2) The Board of Directors shall establish the date, time, and program of the annual convention and the annual business meeting.
(3) Special meetings of the association may be called by the Board of Directors at any time and place the Board deems necessary or desirable.
(4) The Board of Directors shall also have power to arrange for joint sessions from time to time with organizations functioning in religious publishing, communications, public relations, and related fields.
(5) At any meeting of the members, an attendance of twenty-five (25) of those persons entitled to vote as specified in Article IX shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(6) Visitors to all meetings shall be permitted according to conditions approved by the Board of Directors.
(7) Written or electronic notice stating the day, place, and hour of the meeting, and the purpose if a special meeting, shall be communicated to each member not fewer than thirty days preceding the meeting.
The Bylaws may be amended at any meeting of the members of the Associated Church Press by a two-thirds vote of those persons entitled to vote and present, as specified in Article IX below, provided that notice of the proposed amendment shall have been circulated to all member publications and individual members at least thirty days prior to the meeting at which such amendment is considered.
Voting shall be by those persons entitled to vote who are present at any annual or special meeting of the members, and the decision shall be determined by simple majority, or by a two-thirds majority of those present when amending the Bylaws. At any annual or special meeting, each employee of a publication member who is present shall be entitled to one vote, and each individual member who is present shall be entitled to one vote. However, if an individual member is also an employee of a publication member, such person shall be entitled to only one vote. Proxy voting is prohibited.
X. CITATIONS OF HONOR
Citations of Honor may be conferred upon individuals in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the Associated Church Press and/or in the field of religious journalism. Names of persons proposed for honorary citation should be sent to the Executive Committee with suggestions for two additional letters of endorsement. The Executive Committee shall make its recommendation to the Board of Directors, which will have authority to confer citations during a convention or other called meeting of the Associated Church Press.
(1) Annual Membership Dues—Publication Membership dues shall be collected on the basis of gross annual budget at a rate fixed by the Board of Directors or on the basis of a circulation formula as fixed by the Board of Directors from time to time, whichever is the lesser amount. In the calculation of annual budget the following shall be included: managerial and secretarial salaries and benefits plus all costs in editing, producing, advertising, and circulating the member publication. Where salaries are paid by other organizations, pro rata adjustments shall be made as fairly as possible.
Dues for individual and affiliate members shall be set by the Board of Directors and reviewed at the Board’s discretion.
The Board of Directors shall have power to make any necessary adjustments in the payment of dues. The Executive Director shall have power to act on behalf of the Board in exceptional circumstances to negotiate deferred or reduced payment of dues. Such accommodation shall be reported to the Executive Committee.
(2) If by the time of the annual meeting, a member’s dues are not paid, that member shall not be entitled to vote. If by the time of the annual meeting a member’s dues are in arrears for both the current year and the prior year, that member shall be dropped from membership.
(3) A person applying for individual membership and serving on the staff of a publication eligible for membership may be accepted for no more than two years of such individual membership. This provision may also apply to a person whose eligible publication dropped membership but wishes to continue personal contact with ACP. Exceptions may be made by the Board of Directors.
XII. PRESS CARDS
The Executive Director is authorized to issue press cards to staff and correspondents of publication members and to individual members. Press cards shall be limited to the calendar year in which the membership dues of the member have been paid, certifying that the person for whom the press card is requested is accredited by the Associated Church Press.
The Board of Directors shall authorize the corporation to pay or reimburse any present or former director, officer, or employee of the corporation any judgments, fines, penalties, costs, or expenses actually and necessarily incurred by him or her in any action, suit, or proceeding to which he or she is made a party by reason of holding his or her position. Payment or reimbursement is conditioned on the director, officer, or employee having acted in good faith and in a manner he or she reasonably believed to be in, and not opposed to, the best interests of the corporation. However, the director, officer, or employee shall not receive indemnification if he or she is finally adjudicated to be liable for negligence or misconduct in the performance of his or her duty to the corporation. The indemnification provided in this paragraph shall also extend to good-faith expenditures incurred in anticipation of, or preparation for, threatened or proposed litigation. The Board of Directors may, in proper cases, extend the indemnification to cover the good-faith settlement of any action, suit, or proceeding, whether formally instituted or not. The rights of indemnification set forth in this Article are in addition to, and not exclusive of, all other rights to which the director, officer, employee, or agent may be entitled.
Statement of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice
The purpose of the religious press is to use publications to foster development and growth among the faithful and to seek effective communication between the faithful and others in society. Inherent in that purpose are responsibilities to the faith that inspires Christian publications, to the organizations sponsoring them, to their contributors, to their readers, and to humankind in general.
Disciplined journalistic inquiry seeks to provide information and insight—praise, reproof, and steadfast truth in news reporting—in the conviction that society as a whole and each community within society need trustworthy sources of information and interpretation in order to function productively. Members of the Associated Church Press commit to report the facts accurately, clearly, fairly, impartially, and promptly to church members and to the world through appropriate media.
Fundamental to any statement of journalistic principles is the concept of freedom of the press. Such freedom is not a privilege of journalists but a need of the community—a need of its leaders as well as of all its members. It is out of concern for this that all publications strive for complete editorial freedom. That freedom and the integrity required of the religious press must be guaranteed if church members are to have confidence in the news and information they receive. To meet these responsibilities adequately, religious publications must be able to function without censorship, interference, manipulation, encumbrance, retribution, or any other limitations, immediate or potential, expressed or implied.
The religious press, especially, has a responsibility to know, observe, and refine the ethical standards of journalism as a profession. Over the centuries journalism’s most responsible practitioners have developed specific criteria for judging its performance. Not all that growth can be attributed to journalists exemplifying religious awareness, and yet the standards that have evolved are fully in harmony with Christian love and other religiously based respect for the rights and freedoms of the human person.
Journalistic ethics have their ultimate grounding in the divine commandment that forbids us to lie—to tell, rather, the truth at all times.
The same commandment instructs us not only to avoid lies but to make relevant truth available to all who need it. So understood, the commandment asks that its practitioners cultivate a disciplined professional curiosity out of a conviction that individual readers need truth to form their opinions and to live their lives in consonance with God’s will. The religious press helps the Christian faith to confront the challenge of modern society. And, through the same channel, others in that society are helped to understand—and perhaps accept in time—the faith articulated and practiced.
The existence of such a journalistic covenant—unwritten, but real, nevertheless—is acknowledged by members of the Associated Church Press.
Statement of Ethics
Members of the Associated Church Press hold diverse views, and they perform diverse functions in the communities that they serve. Nevertheless, they share a commitment to these moral and journalistic principles:
(1) Since the fundamental principle of journalism is to speak the truth, policies governing news reporting, commentary, promotion, and circulation should observe these requirements: (a) accuracy; (b) sufficient explanation of important matters, as needed; and the disclosure of all possible information of relevance; (c) fairness—the avoidance of half-truth, distortion, uncorroborated evidence, questionable implication, and sensationalism; (d) identification of conjectures as such; and (e) separation of fact from opinion or explicit identification of them as determined in a specific case.
(2) Editors and journalists must be accurate, fair, and objective in reporting the news, and should avoid misrepresentation of someone’s views, particularly if opposed to those of the writer or publication. Important substantive errors must be corrected in its next issue.
(3) The religious press should take the initiative in publishing news and in interpretive and investigative reporting. In investigative reporting sources should be revealed where possible, and reasons should be given for any concealment or lack of identification.
(4) An individual’s right to privacy should be compromised only in a clear case of the readers’ right to know.
(5) The religious press will not publish statements damaging an individual’s reputation unless the facts behind such statements have been verified, and unless such statements are vital to the story. The persons about whom such statements are made must be given an appropriate opportunity to respond.
(6) The religious press will not publish statements which constitute personal attacks or which appeal to prejudice.
(7) The religious press, its editors and reporters, will defend freedom of the press wherever it is endangered.
(8) The religious press endorses vigorous expression of opinion through published reactions, alternative views, and criticisms whether in letters-to-the-editor or opinion pieces.
(9) Members of the religious press shall not serve on committees, commissions, or agencies or accept assignments or remuneration from persons or groups which place them in positions of conflict of interest. As a general rule, a religious journalist should not report on the activities of an agency for which he or she serves. Any potential conflict of interest must be disclosed fully.
Standards of Professional Practice
The Associated Church Press recommends these practices as standards of professional performance for member publications.
(1) Advertising shall be distinct from editorial content in format.
(2) Regarding contributors: (a) non-staff contributors shall be notified promptly of acceptance or rejection of an article. Policies governing payment and related matters shall be clearly articulated and consistently applied; (b) religious publications must guard the rights of contributors to protect their works from unauthorized use, and to obtain fair compensation and/or proper credit; (c) substantial parts of any person’s work must not be published without his or her specific consent; (d) material shall be edited responsibly, and not changed significantly, in either substance or intent, without the author’s consent; and (e) copyright laws and contracts must be observed scrupulously.
(3) Employees shall be entitled to fair compensation, security when their professional performance is acceptable, and reasonable notice and severance when it is not. The employee has a right to expect the employer to have a specific policy related to termination and to follow it consistently.
(4) Opportunities for professional growth and continuing education for staff members shall be encouraged, and training internships shall be established if possible.
(5) Professional contact with colleagues in press associations on this continent and throughout the world shall be encouraged.
Members of the Associated Church Press shall assist each other and other journalists in the religious or secular press when their legitimate efforts to provide fair and accurate reporting and interpretation of the news are under attack. They shall also commit themselves to providing a means through which persons who feel themselves mistreated by a member of the association can air their grievances and obtain an appropriate assessment of the merit of those grievances.
This document constitutes the statement of ethics and standards of professional practice of the Associated Church Press. Members of the association are pledged to uphold these standards and to encourage others in the religious press to adopt them.
- Adopted May 22, 1969
- Revised May 11, 1972
- Revised April 25, 1974
- Revised May 15, 1975
- Revised April 19, 1978
- Revised May 2, 1979
- Revised May 12, 1980
- Revised May 6, 1981
- Revised April 13, 1983
- Revised April 12, 1985
- Revised May 19, 1987
- Revised May 20, 1989
- Revised April 18, 1990
- Revised April 20, 1993
- Revised April 22, 1997
- Revised April 22, 2008
- Revised April 21, 2015