National Lutheran News

Metro Lutheran continues new editor search

Mike Sherer will retire on November 1, 2007

The nation’s only independent pan-Lutheran newspaper has begun a search for a new editor/executive director. The current editor, the Rev. Michael Sherer, has been at the helm of Metro Lutheran since 1996. He plans to retire November 1, 2007.

A new editor/executive director search committee, appointed by the paper’s board of directors, has been at work since last spring, fine-tuning a job description for the position. It has now been posted at www.metrolutheran.org (scroll to the bottom of the front page).

Applications will be received until May 1. The committee will conduct interviews during May and make a selection by mid-June. The new editor/director will take the reins on November 1.

The next leader for the paper will need several competencies, including:

* An understanding of and appreciation for the Lutheran Church in all of its North American expressions. There are a dozen Lutheran groups served by the paper, the largest three of which are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).

* A working understanding of Lutheran theology (seminary training is not required, but would be of value).

* The ability to work with Lutheran clergy and lay church folk, a readiness to listen and learn from a variety of Lutheran perspectives, and a willingness to visit in Lutheran congregations.

* Some experience in religion communication.

* An ability to use computer desktop publishing and some skill with (or readiness to learn) newspaper page design and layout.

Metro Lutheran is in its 22nd year of publication. Serving Lutherans across the spectrum, it circulates 33,000 free copies in 17 counties in and around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, plus three additional counties in western Wisconsin. The estimated pass-along readership is 100,000.

Individuals wishing to apply for the position are invited to send a cover letter and a résumé to Metro Lutheran Editor Search, 122 West Franklin Avenue, Room 214, Minneapolis, MN 55404.

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TO REQUEST AN APPLICATION FORM FOR THIS POSITION, SEND AN E-MAIL TO metrolutheran@lycos.com. THE FORM WILL BE SENT TO YOU AS A WORD.DOC ATTACHMENT.

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Job Description of the Metro Lutheran
Editor/Executive Director

Metro Lutheran is a non-profit, independent pan-Lutheran newspaper serving readers in nine church bodies* and independent Lutherans across the Lutheran spectrum in Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding counties in east-central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The paper does not take a point of view, except to champion affirmations all Lutherans hold in common. It does not speak for any judicatory or interest group and does not exclude the views of any in the Lutheran community. It does not seek financial support from judicatories or interest groups (although some such units voluntarily provide contributions from time to time), but depends upon financial support from readers and congregations where the paper circulates.

The paper is a monthly, tabloid-sized journal, publishing 33,000 copies and read by up to 100,000 individuals in Minnesota, Wisconsin and nationwide. It is widely regarded as the best Lutheran newspaper in North America and the only pan-Lutheran newspaper in the country. Its Purpose and Policy Statement declares:

“The purpose of Metro Lutheran is to provide factual information reflective of activities and concerns existing among Lutheran people, their churches and their serving affiliates.

“Metro Lutheran strives to maintain a high level of journalistic excellence. Emphasis is on news, human interest articles and materials that deepen understanding of Lutheranism, its traditions, its history and its ongoing work.

[“The policy of Metro Lutheran is non-political and non-parochial. It seeks to inform its readers without presuming to advocate policies on issues which become subjects of public debate. Fairness and objectivity is the goal in the reporting of matters where Lutherans are in disagreement.

“Metro Lutheran is supportive of Lutheran church bodies and the institutions and agencies through which they carry on their work.”]

[* Lutheran groups served include: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC), Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), Church of the Lutheran Brethren (CLB), Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC), Augustana Orthodox Lutheran Synod (AOLC)]

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Qualifications and Skills

Membership in a Lutheran congregation.

A love for and commitment to the life and ministry of the Lutheran Church.

Excellent writing and language skills, an understanding of religion journalism and, preferably, experience in church communication work.

A clear understanding of Lutheran theology and the workings of the Lutheran Church, both broadly and within local congregations is necessary. Theological training in the Lutheran tradition is a singular asset in this position.

Ability and willingness to work under pressure, meeting monthly editorial, advertising and printer’s deadlines.

Self-managed and motivated, with a proven ability to work with limited supervision.

A commitment to objectivity, fairness and balance is critical. An understanding of, and appreciation for, the polarities and conflicting viewpoints across the wide Lutheran spectrum (including those which exist within individual Lutheran church bodies) is important.

Diplomatic, with the ability to be gracious when responding to readers who object to something printed in the Metro Lutheran.

A knowledge of and appreciation for Lutheran Church history in North America in its varieties.

The ability to supervise and work in a congenial and collegial way with an office staff which currently includes a full-time office manager/advertising sales person, a staff associate responsible for data entry and communication with donors, and a staff associate responsible for bookkeeping, and maintaining records related to accounts receivable and payable.

An ability to act as an executive director of the paper, overseeing an annual budget currently in the $320,000 range and building and maintaining relationships with financial supporters, who presently provide 15-20% of the income for the paper.

An ability to initiate fund-raising events and activities for the Metro Lutheran and encourage others to become involved in organizing and carrying out such events.

A facility with, or a readiness to learn quickly the use of the hardware and software used in the office and for the production of the paper and oversight of the Metro Lutheran Website. (The new editor will be consulted before assuming the position regarding the selection of new hardware and software for the Metro Lutheran, so it can be acquired and installed prior to assuming the position.)

Ability to work effectively in collaboration with the Board of Directors composed of approximately 18 individuals from across the Lutheran spectrum, and its four standing committees. Currently the board meets five times a year, with members from congregations within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations and members of independent Lutheran congregations.

The willingness to work “after hours” and on weekends to cover stories and to represent the paper at congregations for speaking engagements.

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Tasks/ Roles/ Responsibilities

Manage the production and distribution of 12 monthly issues per year (each normally available for distribution in congregations the last Sunday of each month.)

Select the content for each monthly issue — including that for special monthly sections, determined in consultation with the Director of Advertising.

Work with free-lance staff writers (there are currently three regular and two occasional), keeping them supplied with writing assignments, and arrange for appropriate photography to supplement their submissions.

Conduct interviews for stories when good opportunities present themselves, or cover significant events lending themselves to story material, and arrange for supporting photography where needed and appropriate.

Lay out monthly pages. Typeset stories, calendar, classified ads and material from columnists (or import text from submitted electronic files). Import electronic ad files. Design ads when needed. Collect page files for output to the commercial printer. Burn and submit to printer discs with photos and page layouts.

Determine which submitted content is appropriate, and write new copy as needed.

Write a monthly editorial for readers, using language that honors the sensitivities of the broad spectrum of Lutheran readers. (An editorial supporting or condemning a woman’s choice to have an abortion would not fit this criterion, but one championing the dignity of human life would, etc.)

Envision new directions for the publication, including how to attract younger readers. Change layout, format and design as appropriate.

Monitor the distribution of the paper and ensure efficient delivery of the paper.

Initiate ideas for expanding the circulation of the Metro Lutheran. (Work with a “Circulation Committee,” when one is established by the Board of Directors, to explore ways to increase the circulation of the paper.)

Oversee improvements, updates and maintenance of the Metro Lutheran Website, located at www.metrolutheran.org. Stimulate and oversee the upgrading of the paper’s website to increase its appeal and use.

Initiate fund-raising events and activities for the paper and involve Board Members, staff and volunteers in carrying out the event. (Currently fund-raising activities include an Annual Dinner in October, annual hymn festival, semi-annual commuicators’ workshop.)

Oversee and promote a development plan for the paper, including the Metro Lutheran Endowment Fund.

Oversee the financial accountability of the paper and its operation within the adopted annual budget.

Provide input for the annual performance reviews of other office staff to the Executive Committee of the Board, and submit to an annual performance review by that Committee.

Create an annual report for the Board of Directors, summarizing editorial, advertising and financial activity for the calendar year and prospects for the coming cycle.

Advocate for the publication publicly in any and all venues which seem appropriate and represent the Metro Lutheran as a spokesperson among its church constituencies and the broader public. (Informational presentations at congregations and other groups, Bible studies, adult forums, etc.)

Attend the annual Associated Church Press (ACP) Conference. Prior to the conference, select Metro Lutheran articles from the previous year to enter in the competition between publications judged at the conference.

Stimulate and oversee the upgrading of the paper’s website to increase its appeal and use.

Report to the Board of Directors through its Chair and keep the Board of Directors fully informed of planned changes to the Metro Lutheran or activities and events carried out in the name of and for the support of the Metro Lutheran.

Attend all meetings of the Board and its committees.