Before you hang up a new calendar and start a fresh year, I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on 2023 and what we’ve accomplished together at Word&Way. As we’ve done since 1896, we’ve provided real news that leads back to the Good News.
While a few large religious groups get nearly all the media attention (usually for their controversies and fights), we’ve made a point of covering others as they faithfully serve God and engage in important and even prophetic work. Jeremy Fuzy reported from the biennial convention of the Mennonite Church USA in Kansas City, Missouri. Beau Underwood reported from the general assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky. And I reported from the annual session of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, and the annual meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in Stavanger, Norway. I also enjoyed opportunities to preach at Baptist and Presbyterian churches this year, as well as speak at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, Illinois, a BJC webinar on Christian Nationalism and public schools, an event challenging Islamophobia, and more.
And that’s just a little slice of the events and issues we covered this year. It’s also been a great year as we’ve been honored with awards for our reporting at A Public Witness, cited by numerous other media outlets, and watched as our subscriber list grew. So in this review of 2023, I will count down our most popular pieces and then reflect on some other highlights from the year.
Top Pieces in 2023
This year, we published 101 pieces at A Public Witness, in addition to also sending out a weekly roundup email of top news and more. About 40% of the 101 pieces went only to paid subscribers. Here are the 10 most-read pieces from A Public Witness in 2023:
10. ‘You Can’t Unsee’ Systemic Racism by Brian Kaylor (Oct. 19). This article reported on a talk by author and historian Jemar Tisby.
9. Michael Flynn’s Soup for the Soulless by Brian Kaylor (May 16). This article reported on the ReAwaken America Tour and Christian voices pushing back against it.
8. Time To Go Old Testament? by Brian Kaylor (Nov. 7). This piece considered the problem when politicians and celebrities invoke the Old Testament as an ethical framework opposed to the teachings of Jesus.
7. Preachers Confront Christian Nationalism by Brian Kaylor & Beau Underwood (June 13). This article reported on several sermons as pastors across the country participated in an effort to speak against Christian Nationalism.
6. Church Scrubs Sermon by Speaker Johnson (But I Saved Them) by Brian Kaylor (Nov. 9). This piece reported on a church that removed sermons we had previously reported on (in a piece coming later in this list).
5. Reading Genesis Literally … in Texas by Brian Kaylor (Aug. 15). This piece reflected on a biblical reference in a political court filing and how that argument might lead to different policies.
4. Disciples Confronting Christian Nationalism by Brian Kaylor & Beau Underwood (Aug. 8). This article reported on the general assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
3. A Call for ‘Biblical’ Genocide by Brian Kaylor (Oct. 31). This piece considered the biblical story invoked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to justify the deadly war against Gaza.
2. Wrestling with History by Brian Kaylor (June 22). This article reported on a talk by author and historian Diana Butler Bass.
1. Christian Nationalism in the Speaker’s Chair by Brian Kaylor & Jeremy Fuzy (Oct. 26). This article reported on the newly-elected House speaker and offered the first report on his sermons in churches.
Highlights of 2023
In addition to top pieces from A Public Witness this year, I’d also like to highlight a few more things at Word&Way this year.
5. The audience keeps growing for our award-winning show Dangerous Dogma. We’ve been podcasting since 2018, but more people are listening now across the country and around the world. If you want to check out some of our conversations, consider starting with the top 10 most-downloaded episodes of Dangerous Dogma this year.
4. Our work was cited by numerous other media outlets. Among those who looked to us to inform their coverage of various issues were Baptist News Global, Louisville Courier-Journal, Newsweek, Orlando Sentinel, Religion Dispatches, Respecting Religion, Slate, and The Daily Beast.
3. We challenged Christian Nationalism — on a boat. As the ReAwaken America Tour — a traveling carnival of extremism, conspiracy theories, and Christian Nationalism — kicked off a weekend of speakers at Trump Doral, a boat made its way through Miami, Florida, with a digital billboard warning about such false prophets. And it included the logo of A Public Witness as part of our partnership with our friends at Faithful America (who we also worked with last year to lead the challenge to the ReAwaken event in Branson, Missouri).
2. We were honored with 20 awards for our journalism. This included seven awards for A Public Witness from our peers in religious journalism. We also won awards for editorial writing, podcasting, photography, magazine design, and more. We’ve won 107 awards over the last five years, proof of our commitment to providing you with quality Christian journalism.
1. Subscribers to A Public Witness reached new highs. This year, our overall number of subscribers has grown nearly 20% and topped 10,000. We’re glad you found us! We’re especially thankful for the smaller group of paid subscribers. A Public Witness now brings in more than twice the revenue of our 127-year-old print publication. This growth is essential to ensuring the future sustainability of our journalism ministry. So if you’re not yet a paid subscriber to this e-newsletter, you can help us continue our important work by upgrading today.
None of this would be possible without the faithful support of our readers and donors. So thanks for being part of our journey in 2023. And I’m excited to see what we can do together in the coming year.
As a public witness,