Founder glad magazine in good hands
Geez moving to Detroit this year, but new boss vows to honour its roots
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/01/2019 (1412 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Geez! Is the cheeky alternative Christian magazine of the same name really leaving Winnipeg?
The answer is yes. Geez magazine is moving to Detroit this year, where it will be led by a new team of socially progressive Christians.
Founded in 2005 by Winnipegger Aiden Enns, Geez set out to protest the “unholy alliance between church, state, market and military” while celebrating the “spiritual dimensions of biking, energy efficiency and canning pickles.”
Its audience was the “over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable.”
For Enns, 57, reasons for the change include wanting to make space for younger leaders with new ideas and visions, and also because he’s tired — it’s not easy publishing a magazine these days.
Since Geez sells no advertising, circulation is the main source of revenue. With only about 900 subscribers, it wasn’t sustainable without fundraising. Keeping salaries low helped, but it took a toll as people left for better-paying jobs. It was also tough on Enns himself.
But as he looks ahead, Enns doesn’t want to dwell on the challenges — he wants to remember the successes.
“We published some amazing writers,” he says of the people who wrote for Geez.
And the magazine tackled many pressing issues such as gender, decolonization, disability and ableism, privilege, the future of food and simplicity, he says.
One issue on living life offline — Geez has always resisted going digital — earned Enns an invitation to speak at a conference in New York where he shared the podium with Ralph Nader and environmentalist Bill McKibben.
Another issue that received a lot of attention was titled “30 Sermons You’d Never Hear in Church.” That prompted Geez to create the “Auto-Sermon-Engagerizer-O-Matic,” a fill-in-the-blanks card with which churchgoers could rate sermons.
But his main satisfaction comes from letters and emails received from many people who were touched by Geez. The most common sentiment was “‘I’m so glad I found you, I feel so alone in my faith,’” he says.
“So many people are struggling to find hope,” he says. Geez gave them the courage and inspiration they needed to “take a step in the direction… it gave them hope.”
As for regrets, he’s sorry the magazine never reached its circulation goal; with more money, it could have hired more staff and paid them better. And he wishes Geez had prompted more controversy; its goal was “holy mischief,” after all.
The new publishing team will be led by Detroiter Lydia Wylie-Kellerman, a longtime Geez contributor and co-editor of RadicalDiscipleship.net, a daily online journal of radical Christian faith and social justice activism.
Why does she want to take it on?
“I love Geez,” she says. “It has been a home for me. I never would have imagined in a million years that I would one day be stepping into this position.”
As editor and publisher, she wants to “keep summoning stories” and help people “feel hope in these truly scary times.”
She intends to keep Geez’s commitment to print.
“I want to help create something that can be read around the kitchen table, that can be read as you lean against a tree, something that can be held in your hands and treasured over time,” she says.
At the same time, she’s open to doing more online. “I want to leave a small amount of wiggle room for the spirit to take us a different way.”
As for the move to the U.S., Wylie-Kellerman is aware it might prompt some Canadians to worry the magazine will be dominated by American issues.
“I believe that Geez’s roots in Canada is a tremendous gift to the work and identity of the magazine,” she says, adding she promises to be “mindful and paying attention to this concern” while making sure Canadians continue to have opportunities to write.
For Enns, the transition produces mixed feelings. He’s glad the magazine has found a new home, but he’s also sorry he won’t be as involved in the future.
Of his passion for Geez, Enns says, “Jesus saw things people didn’t see. I wanted to see the world with those same eyes. For me, Geez was a way of looking at situations with an eye to resisting oppression, to seeing things in new ways.”
He expects that vision to continue, only now from south of the border.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.