Submission Guidelines

LeadsLettersMilestone EventsChurch NewsMission NewsAdvertising Policy

Guidelines For Leads

Queries are welcome and preferred. A query can save a writer much work

Length: 1,200 words maximum, excluding autobiography. Please respect this. Your article is not an exception.

Topics: Generally, but not totally, open. To be negotiated.

First Use Only: We purchase only first-use rights. We do not own the material.

Series: Is possible, must be extraordinary in topic and writing skills, and be negotiated. Stand-alone articles are preferred even in a series.

References: Attribute briefly within the text; avoid footnotes.

Bible references/version: For scant references use a full form (Romans), but in multiple references use a shortened form (Rom.). A modern translation, not a paraphrase, is preferred.

Audience: The audience is generally, but not exclusively, EMC members and adherents with a range of educational and cultural backgrounds.

Style: Profound thoughts are to be said in simple language. Use inclusive language (humankindover mankind). Do not use Mennonite in a cultural sense except when linked specifically (GermanMennonite). When using Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Cree, High and Low German, translation is needed. Keep paragraphs short; use two or three short sentences. Include some bold subheads to help the flow. See The Messenger for examples.

Respect: It is important that articles be respectful in tone to other parts of the Christian Church and to people of a different opinion. Non-Christians read the magazine.

Format: We prefer crisp text, proper punctuation and spelling, double spacing, one-inch borders, 12 pt New Times Roman, .5 paragraph indent, one space after a sentence. Please do not have extra spacing between paragraphs. Please do not send PDFs.

Approval: We do not send back edited versions for writer approval. Please do not ask. Our assumption is that both writers and editors do good work.

Autobiography and mug shot: Please provide a photo and information (e.g., active church link, education).

Photos: To be sent in colour as JPEG attachments, normal size, and at least 300 DPI.

Honoraria: $135 for 1,200 words, $15 for photos (excluding mug shot); the single fee covers payment for article appearing in hard copy and on the Internet in PDF format. Reworked sermons are paid at two-thirds rate (because they have been paid for previously).

Commissioned/Kill Fee: If an article, or series, is commissioned and then deemed unsuitable by the editor, it will, if not rewritten, be “killed” with payment at half-fee for the first article only.

Addresses: Please submit articles to and include your regular address.


Guidelines For Letters

A distinction is made between letters intended or not intended by the writer for publication. Where necessary, the editorial staff will seek to clarify this. The magazine reserves the right to edit letters for length, style, legality, and taste. Letters to the editor should be 250 words or less.

Letters published are generally to comment on issues raised in The Messenger. Letters that do not represent official Conference positions can be published in The Messenger. Within a Conference comprised of various voices, the magazine is to encourage the “community hermeneutic” toward responsible Christian belief, teaching and practice.

To be published, letters by regular mail and by fax must contain a handwritten signature with at least the writer’s first and last names and an address. For e-mail letters, the writer’s name, e-mail address, and mailing address are together deemed to be an electronic signature. In all forms of correspondence, a phone number is helpful to clarify matters where needed. The writer’s name and general address are to be published. In sensitive matters, names may be withheld upon request or at the discretion of Messenger staff.

Some letters will not be published under any circumstances: letters that appear obscene, that are anonymous or unsigned, that appear to involve a personal attack, or that involve a legal matter.

Submit a letter to The Messenger.


Guidelines For Milestone Events

There is no charge for publishing obituaries, birth announcements or wedding announcements. Please read the guidelines below before making a submission.

Submitting obituaries

Obituaries should be under 500 words (poetry and Scripture included). If submissions are too long, they will be returned to family to shorten where needed. Submissions should include a clear photo. Mailed photos will be returned if requested; please put a sticky note with the return address on the back of the photo or provide a self-addressed envelope.

Submitting birth announcements

Check spelling of people and places. Please provide the names of the parents, the town and province where they live, the baby’s full name and gender, and the date of the birth. In the case of single parents, or if the parents use different surnames, indicate clearly the baby’s surname.

Submitting wedding announcements

Check spelling of all names and places. Please provide the full names of the bride and groom, the names and basic location (town and province) of their parents, the date and location of the wedding, the name of the officiant, and the current resident location of the couple (town and province). Please provide a full mailing address (this will not be published) and the EMC church connection if the couple should be added to the magazine’s subscription list.


Guidelines For Church News

2014 Guidelines for Reporters

What is news?

Building construction
Pastoral changes
Local graduates
Children’s clubs
Youth activities
Women’s activities
Guest interview
Christian service workers
Church dedication
Vacation Bible School
A creative angle
New members
Weekend retreats
Annual meetings

Important legal matters

For legal reasons:

  • We prefer not to publish photos of minor children unless parents give their permission (VBS, camp, and more). We can refuse to publish such photos.
  • Reporters are to seek written permission of members received, people baptized, people ordained, for instance. (Just because people share their testimony locally among people they trust does not mean they expect that it will appear in a national magazine or on the Internet. We cannot assume it.)
  • Photos of children who cannot be identified might be okay (the teacher’s face is seen, but children’s faces are not).
  • The magazine respects legal realities; it did not create them. It does not seek to complicate matters.
  • The reporter, the local church, and the magazine can sleep better when legal matters are followed.

How should the news be organized?

Place the important news first. Remember the five W’s and the H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and (sometimes) How. Suggest a creative title.

How long is an article?

Less than 500 words. With a picture or two, this fills a page.

What about spelling?

Please ensure the names of people, businesses, and places are spelled correctly: Dueck, Dyck, Dick; Bear Lake Bible Camp. Spelling is critical in wedding/birth announcements and news about illness or death.

How often should a report be sent?

Four to six reports per year are welcome by fax, e-mail, or regular mail.

How long before the report is printed?

The magazine works about two months ahead. If you submit an article by April 8, for instance, it will appear in the June issue. The “next” issue is two months away.

Will all the photos go in?

Unfortunately, we do not guarantee this. We suggest only one or two photos be sent with each report.

What if a report is missed?

Focus on what is current or important. Given our publishing cycle, “old” news gets even older.

What happens to the report after you get it?

It is edited as needed (tightened, rearranged or title added). In layout, a report might be cut to fit; we might decide between a paragraph and a picture.

What about pictures and captions?

Colour photos are fine. Do not send pictures that are unclear or have people’s eyes closed. Photos are to be normal size, high resolution, and sent as an attachment (not embedded). One or two pictures are adequate. Captions list people in order they appear, not man first.

How are birth announcements reported?

HILL– to Jack and Jill of Winnipeg, Man., a son, Jerry Cole, on Oct. 1, 2014.

Use the above format. It will save everyone work. A father, mother, and child might have different surnames.

What about wedding notices?

Check the spellings and surnames of all people. The parents might be married to each other or not. We don’t announce engagements.

What about obituaries?

They are to be under 500 words (poetry included). If not, please ask the family to shorten it. (To avoid hurt feelings, we prefer the family do it.) A clear photo is needed. There is no charge. As stated earlier, there is a delay in publishing.

What if a new reporter takes over?

Let us know. Encourage the new reporter.

What is a reporter’s role?

News is what happens and what people say about it. With churches holding similar events, there is room for creativity.

Anything to avoid?

Cliches: delicious food, good fellowship, a good time was had by all. Ink that smears. Captions that do not identify people. Using Mr. and Mrs. instead of couples’ names. Too many exclamation marks. Use of &.

What if help is needed?

Contact us: 204-326-6401; Send us your e-mail address so we can clarify details.

Your work is appreciated.

Together we encourage our readers (Heb. 10:24-25). Your work is appreciated. You have a solid readership of an important section in The Messenger. Thank you for working to inform us of what is happening within the life of your congregation. This is important to the life and work of our EM Conference.


Guidelines For Mission News

2014 Cross-Cultural Orientation
Terry M. Smith
Editor, The Messenger

Cross-cultural workers need to: Write. Smart. Safely. Well. Soon.

Scenario One:

John and Jane Missionary are both happy and disgruntled. They are happy their Foreign Secretary gives them five minutes to share at conference council where delegates will be present; they are unhappy because they wanted 20. John and Jane Missionary are happy to write newsletters that go to dozens of financial supporters; they are unhappy because The Messenger editor nags them to write four 500-word articles (with a photo or two) per year. They don’t like to write, there isn’t time, and there are many more important activities.

Do the Math:

4 x 500 words = a 20-minute message at 100 words per minute
that goes to 61 congregations
with 3,300 households

with, on average, one person glancing at it

If you were given 20 minutes to speak to 3,300 people, how would you rate this assignment’s importance?


Scenario Two: 

John and Jane Missionary, who serve in Village A, meet Jose Ruiz. They write an article that says, “Jose Ruiz has a problem with drinking. His wife says he beats her. Please pray for him that he will find Jesus.” The editor publishes the article and a PDF copy is placed on the Internet. A friend of Jose’s discovers the reference. Jose objects and says he will sue the missionaries and the magazine for libel. His wife will no longer visit with Jane. How would the possibility of a lawsuit threaten to ruin John and Jane Missionary’s day, their finances, and their ministry?

Write. Smart.

Scenario Three:

John and Jane Missionary work in a restricted access country. They screen their mail and are careful in print. On furlough they visit and happily report in an EM church, and a church reporterhappily includes their names and status as missionaries in an article that is happily published in the national publication that is happily placed on the Internet. Who is happy then?

Scenario Four:

John and Jane Missionary and children proudly pose for their missionary card photo. The card goes to the homes of supporters, supporting churches, to their denominational magazine, and (along with a missions report) is posted on the Internet. Suddenly John and Jane are uncomfortable: the photos and names of their young children are available on the Internet. Should they worry? Why did they give the magazine the photo they did?

Write. Smart. Safely.

Scenario Five:

  • John and Jane Missionary send their newsletter to the General Secretary or the Foreign Secretary, assuming it will also go to the editor. It doesn’t.
  • They send their newsletter to the editor, who takes the wrong section and puts it into print; they are unhappy.
  • They want the editor to send them a copy of the edited version for approval before it goes into print; the editor won’t. They are unhappy.
  • The editor asks for 500 words; they send 800 (how could you say it in fewer?), which is edited (500 with a photo fits on a page) and they are unhappy.
  • They write 500 words, bury what is most important at the bottom; the editor moves it up and they are unhappy. The reader who skims, however, is happy; so is the editor’s journalism instructor who taught that what is important goes first; when space is tight, material can be easily cut from the bottom.

Why should we have to learn these things? they wonder. It is really worth it when it is so tough? So they turn away in disgust. Their night’s reading is to brush up on Spanish verbs. Now that’s easy!

Write. Smart. Safely. Well.

Scenario Six:

Do the Math (Again):

4 x 500 words = a 20-minute message at 100 words per minute
that goes to 61 congregations
with 3,300 households

with more than one person glancing at it

For how many Sundays would John and Jane Missionary have to present in various churches in order to reach the same number of people four times a year?

Write. Smart. Safely. Well. Soon.


Advertising Policy

The Messenger does not sell advertising. However, a limited amount of advertising will be accepted as a service to subscribers, as space and suitability permit. Only advertising that will better, edify and enhance our Conference, churches, boards and ministries, and that of the wider Church, will be accepted.

Advertising is not to be for personal monetary benefit of any individual or group. It is recognized that a grey area exists: Some organizations, while officially for profit, operate to serve the Christian Church’s membership and can be given some consideration. Further, advertising that is interpreted by the board as impinging upon EMC programs or institutions can be refused.

The magazine reserves the right to convert boxed ads to classifieds, to shorten material, and to pull an ad after it has appeared twice unless prior arrangements have been made.

Advertising in The Messenger is provided as a courtesy to readers, not as a right to any and all institutions. While the space is free to advertisers, it does cost the publication to run an ad and our expectation is that advertisers will strive to be courteous by notifying us as soon as possible when space for an ad is no longer needed.

General types of acceptable ads include (but are not limited to) the following: personnel needs (pastoral or for other Christian organizations), coming events for churches and affiliate organizations, recruitment ads for affiliated schools, books by EMC authors.

Contact editor Terry Smith or assistant editor Andrew Walker to inquire about publication of an ad.


A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference

%d bloggers like this: