Special Message from the Executive Director on the Impact of COVID-19 on EPA

Like every other organization in the U.S. and, for that matter, in the entire world, the Evangelical Press Association has been impacted by COVID-19 in unprecedented ways. For the first time in more than 70 years, EPA has not held its annual convention, the April event being cancelled after the nationwide shutdown went into effect in March.

Due to contractual obligations with the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, EPA was forced to delay a cancelation decision until the hotel itself canceled our convention. Of course, it was very disappointing as we had a great program ready to go and advance registrations indicated a larger than average attendance.

Typically, we announce the date and location of the next convention at the annual business meeting. Absent that meeting, we are announcing that our 2021 convention will be held in Lancaster, PA, on April 28-30, 2021—I might add, Lord willing, as many things are uncertain about the future. A number of the breakout sessions scheduled for this year will be rescheduled for next year. Beyond that, we are planning to try again for Colorado Springs in 2022, although a new contract will need to be negotiated, which may or may not be with the same hotel. This will enable us to utilize the local guest speakers we had booked for this year to be rescheduled as well.

With no annual business meeting, the planned membership vote on the bylaw changes announced earlier this spring will be postponed until next year. There was also to be an election of two new board members to fill the expired terms of Rick Knoth, treasurer, and Marquita Smith, advisor. Without an election, the remaining members of the board appointed Rick to continue as treasurer one additional year. Marquita, however, was unable to accept an appointment to continue on the board as she will be taking on a new job this fall and will no longer qualify to be a voting member of EPA. Her seat on the board will remain vacant until an election can be held next spring. The two nominees for these positions, Danny Conn and Warren Maye, will be presented as candidates again next year.

In order to provide professional development opportunities for our members, this spring EPA introduced a series of six weekly live webinars on various subjects broadcast via Zoom on Tuesdays from April 28 through June 2. All sessions were scheduled to be recorded and can be accessed through the Members menu at evangelicalpress.com/webinars. Login is required.

Also in the works are multiple online conferences to be held this fall. These virtual summits will consist of a series of related sessions over two or three days. Summits for writing, editing, design, social media, marketing and more are expected.

So, how does all this impact EPA’s finances? The annual convention is a significant source of revenue for EPA, representing nearly 50% of our annual budget. While registration fees cover most of the costs of holding the convention, funds raised through sponsorships are a major part of underwriting operating expenses over the course of the year, supplementing membership dues. Without the sponsorship revenue we expected to raise at this convention, EPA is facing an estimated shortfall of about $40,000 when our fiscal year closes on June 30.

Fortunately, EPA’s reserves, along with anticipated grants from federal stimulus programs, are sufficient to withstand this loss without causing a cash flow problem for this year. For this we are very grateful.

How is this coronavirus affecting EPA members? Freelance associate member Lori Arnold interviewed a number of our editors and her story was published in the summer issue of Liaison. Do you have a story to tell? Send me an email. We would love to hear from you.

Lamar Keener is the executive director for EPA.

Posted May 28, 2020