The following are general communications policies approved by the Vestry in August 2015. The approved document includes guidelines for email and social media. Policies and guidelines for digital communications with youth are also included.
These policies cover mass communications by anyone—clergy, lay staff member or parishioner—who represents himself or herself as an agent of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or its ministries, whether as a paid employee or volunteer.
The policies apply to printed materials, ongoing publications, bulletin boards, interior and exterior signs and to all electronic, online or mobile-based communications tools, whether controlled by St. Paul’s or hosted on other platforms, such as Facebook and Signup Genius.
Printed materials, mass emailings, social media groups and pages, online scheduling tools and other electronic communications media or messages identified with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and any of the church’s ministries, committees or groups, are covered by these policies.
Because technology and various platforms evolve over time, these policies are meant to apply to all communications channels and tools now and in the future, whether or not specified by name or in use at this time. Accounts, groups and pages created before these policies were established are expected to be brought into compliance on request by the Communications Director.
These policies do not apply to private communications among clergy and parishioners, members of committees, small groups, circles, lay liturgical ministries, choirs and other groups engaged in ministries of the church.
The Rector and the Vestry authorize the Communications Director to implement and maintain these policies and guidelines.
The policies and guidelines may be revised at any time without notice. Major revisions must be documented in writing and approved by the Rector and the Vestry.
General Communications Policies
Mass communication at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is carried out primarily by the Communications Director and the Worship Publications Coordinator, with support from the Communications Committee.
The Director of Youth Ministries manages branding and communications with St. Paul’s youth in sixth through twelfth grade and their parents. He maintains a web site, publishes an emailed newsletter and other emailed announcements and maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The Director of Children’s Ministries manages branding and communications with parents of parish children from infancy through fifth grade.
The purpose of mass communication is to support and serve clergy, lay staff and lay leaders in furthering their ministries and promoting their programs to the parish and community. St. Paul’s mass communication initiatives serve active parishioners of all ages and levels of technological sophistication by keeping them informed of news, events and concerns of the church using both print and digital communication channels.
In the interest of intentional management of the communications process, all official mass communications intended to represent, or be distributed on behalf of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or its ministries must be sent to the office of the Communications Director for review and approval before publication. These communications need not be created nor ultimately distributed by the Communications Director, but they must be reviewed and approved before publication or release on behalf of the church.
Unauthorized mass communication using the church name and targeting all or selected parishioners and/or external audiences is not permitted.
Except for the Rector and the Senior Warden, parishioners and staff members are not authorized to speak to reporters as representatives of the church without advance knowledge and coordination with the Communications Director. All media inquiries should be directed to the Communications Director. Similarly, parishioners and staff members are not authorized to communicate broadly (e.g., through social media) in a manner that is intended to communicate, or might reasonably be interpreted as communicating, on behalf of St. Paul’s.
St. Paul’s publications are for the purpose of communicating news and information for and about St. Paul’s. In the spirit of good stewardship of its limited resources of staff time, editorial space and audience attention, St. Paul’s limits its publications to promoting only ministries, programs and events sponsored or co-sponsored by the church. Exceptions may be made if there is a similar or complementary mission and an established connection or ongoing relationship between the sponsoring organization and St. Paul’s. The interest or involvement of St. Paul’s parishioners as individuals does not establish sponsorship by the church itself. Using St. Paul’s facilities does not necessarily establish such a relationship.
As Editor, under the direction of the Rector, the Communications Director determines scheduling and placement of articles and announcements in the various publications. Materials submitted by clergy, staff members, parishioners and others for use in St. Paul’s publications may be edited for clarity, style, tone, spelling, grammar and length, or in order to comport with policies or the mission of the parish, the diocese, and/or the Canons of the Episcopal Church, without review or approval by the original author. Space limitations and production schedules may preclude publication of submissions. Inappropriate or editorially unsuitable materials, as determined by the Editor, will not be published.
Although there are often exceptions, announcements are usually started about four weeks in advance of the event being promoted or, if applicable, the registration deadline. Announcements are generally presented in chronological order and continue in the publications, as space permits, until the registration deadline has passed or the event has occurred.
St. Paul’s does not publish commercial messages promoting for-profit businesses or professional practices, including offers of free products or services intended to promote a for-profit concern.
Individuals’ advertisements to buy or sell goods and services or concerning employment opportunities are not appropriate for church publications, including social media pages and bulletin boards.
Printed copies of the St. Paul’s member directory are available at the front desk for use by parishioners in contacting fellow parishioners individually and in carrying out the ministries of the church. The directory is not to be used to create contact lists for solicitations on behalf of individuals or other organizations.
All information maintained by St. Paul’s in its member database is kept private. St. Paul’s does not release parishioners’ names, contact information or other personally identifiable information, or provide information to third parties, about parishioners’ health status, living conditions or other private matters. Should a request for information about a parishioner be received by the church, it will be referred to the parishioner or his or her immediate family to respond to as they wish.
St. Paul’s obeys copyright laws and publishes only materials for which the proper licensing fees have been paid and/or permissions secured.
In accordance with rules governing its tax status, St. Paul’s does not endorse political candidates, nor does the church participate or intervene in any political activity or campaign.