On Wednesday July 1st, the Church of England officially announced that the Archbishops Council had finalised its agreement (see previous reports) to hand over its publishing division, Church House Publishing, to Hymns Ancient and Modern:
The Archbishops’ Council has signed an agreement with Anglican charity Hymns Ancient & Modern to publish liturgy, key reference titles and other resources for the Church.
Under the agreement, the Council will continue to publish a range of titles to support the ministry and mission of the Church under its Church House Publishing imprint, with Hymns Ancient & Modern (HA&M) acting as its production and marketing arm.
Philip Fletcher, who chairs the Archbishops’ Council’s Publishing Group, said: “Hymns Ancient & Modern have a long and distinguished track record in publishing. This agreement with them will ensure that a full range of vital Church resources, including Common Worship, Crockford’s, the Church of England Year Book and other key titles will continue to be published to high standards in an economic way. We shall also be working with Hymns Ancient and Modern on maintaining and developing the Council’s electronic output, including Visual Liturgy Live and Crockford’s online.”
Whilst this announcement answers some of the questions previously raised — particularly those raised by the Revd David Green concerning the future of the Church of England’s e-publishing — a number of other questions have not been addressed, most importantly about what this handover means for Church House Publishing staff.
Private correspondence offers me some reassurance in this regard but even so I find it very sad and deeply disconcerting that the Church — the one organisation which above all others ought to be committed to putting people first — seems by this announcement to regard the transfer as nothing more than a business transaction, making no mention whatsoever of the people concerned. Publicly, it seems, no regrets, no recognition for achievements and no good wishes for the future.
For those people it is, without a doubt, the end of an era. For publishing in the Church of England it may well be a new beginning. Be that as it may, however, as I recently said of Zondervan publishing, this is not the Archbishops’ Council’s finest hour.
David Green offers further thoughts on the matter here: End of an era for CHP.