Thursday, January 26, 2012

Newsletter and bulletin changes coming soon

Bi-monthly Citadel
Starting in March, the Citadel becomes bi-monthly. We will publish 6 issues per year of the print edition: January-February, March-April, May-June, July-August, September-October, and November-December. This is also the last issue that is going out to everyone on the “big” Citadel list.
In this issue you will find a post-card. We are asking each household to fill this out and send it back or put it in the offering plate. We are asking for your preference:

  1. I want the bi-monthly print Citadel mailed to me.
  2. I will pick up the bi-monthly print Citadel at the back of the church on the Mission Table.
  3. I will read version of the bi-monthly print Citadel on the parish web-site when it is posted.

It is very important that when you complete the post card that you fill out your name, address and your e-mail address. We need your e-mail address even if you choose to get a print edition mailed to your home.
We will also set up a similar survey on our web-site using a web-based tool called Survey Monkey.

Deadlines for Citadel and other media and mailings.
2012 Print Citadel Deadlines are as follows:

  • February 19 for March/April
  • April 22 for May/June
  • June 17 for July/August
  • August 19 for September/October
  • October 21 for November/December
  • December 16 for January/February.

Wednesday noon is the deadline for the weekly e-Citadel and the bulletin.
Facebook, Twitter, Blog and web-site news goes up as often as needed up to once a day.
Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, All Saints, Stewardship and special event mailers or post cards as well as quarterly financial statements will still go out via US Mail. Statements will go on the Mission Table for two Sundays before to be picked up in Church before being mailed.

Why the change?
There are three things that are driving the change: cost of postage, cost of copying and effectiveness.
On January 22nd, postal rates went up again. The cost of mailing is driving us out of the mass-mailing business. We just aren’t big enough. While bulk rate does save money over first class, the savings are decreasing while the work we have to do increases. For example, we have to “test” our mailing list for errors using special software and then print the labels so that a bar code appears. Doing this saves us money per piece than if we just pre-sort and let the post office check for errors or bar-code. The more work we do to prepare a mailing, the less it costs per piece. But that cost per newsletter does not include the cost of the software…about $100/year. If an address is wrong or if a person’s forwarding address expires, we have to pay the post office for returning it to us—at first class rates. Finally, the cost of the permit is also fixed and we pay that every year as well.

We can send 75-100 first class pieces to the homebound, shut-in and those who do not have a computer for less than the cost of 325 to every household in the church and every friend or former member outside the parish.

The second cost is copying. We use up a lot of dead trees running things off in the copier and the cost to do that has gone up, too.  A complete copy of the print newsletter can be viewed on line as a PDF file, is searchable and doesn’t require printing. The same is true with the parish calendar. We could handle the ministry assistant schedule the same way.

What balances the second issue is effectiveness. We don’t know who opens or reads the print Citadel but we do know how often the electronic versions are opened. No less than 65% of you who receive the e-Citadel every week by e-mail open it (and that number is higher if you open it without the images or as a text file which we can’t count). We also know that the PDF version of the print Citadel that we post on the web-site is viewed and opened about 500 times by about 350 unique visitors. While we can’t count how many people open the print Citadel that comes by mail versus those who throw it right into recycling, the number indicates that people are used to opening and reading the newsletter on line.  We see fewer people use the on-line calendar but we think it is because fewer people know that tool is there.

In other words, we have now reached a point where enough of you use the internet and e-mail that those forms of parish news are reaching you. Not as many people in the parish use our Facebook page, Twitter feed and parish blog, but these have a decent reach outside the parish and can become normal for people in the congregation.

We need to have more information, and here is how you can help. Fill out the postcard and mail it in or go on line and use the on-line survey that will appear in the e-Citadel staring on February 3. This will determine how we make this change, if at all.

Another change in print media: A Simpler Bulletin
The Worship Committee and the office staff are working on a simplified bulletin. We hope to roll out the new design in Lent for your feedback. Our basic plan is to stop printing hymns (except for hymns that don’t appear in the Hymnal 1982 and service music) in the bulletin. We will also print less of the text of the liturgy and point to the prayer book more. On seasons when we use alternative Eucharistic Prayers from Enriching Our Worship, we will print booklets for the pews. Look for more about this at church in weeks to come.
On Sundays where the liturgy is very different or where we expect a large number of visitors, like weddings, funerals and major feasts, then we’ll print the service in the bulletin entirely.

Cost and effectiveness.  Again, we want to kill fewer trees. Even if one bulletin per household goes home for the week, we end up recycling most of the bulletins we print. We can’t change that, but we can print fewer pages that go to the recycler.

We also want people to become at home with the Prayer Book or simply to look up from the bulletin and see what’s going on, and hopefully feel more apart of the liturgy.Again, we will survey people’s experience in a variety of ways including an on-line survey using Survey Monkey.

Questions, ideas, concerns?
Please speak to Father Gerns, call the parish office or e-mail us at

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