Our Story

Our Story: The Christian PEN

In March 2004, Kathy Ide was asked by a client if she could recommend another freelance editor who might be able to work on her project. Kathy realized that there must be editors out there who had different specialties and that it would be great to pass on jobs to one another. She knew of several organizations that provided networking for Christian writers but not for Christian editors.

Kathy contacted a few freelance editors to see if they would be interested in creating a group, and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network was born. Its objective was “to provide freelance proofreaders and editors with a venue for cooperative competition through mutual support and the exchange of information, leads, and resources.” By the end of 2004, the PEN had an email discussion loop, a logo, a website, an e-newsletter, and online courses.

In 2006, some PEN members expressed a desire for a network of established professional freelance editors. So Kathy created Christian Editor Connection to connect authors, agents, and publishers with experienced, established professional Christian editors.

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Both organizations grew. In 2012, Jeanne Marie Leach, one of The Christian PEN’s earliest members, took over the responsibilities of coordinating the PEN. Shortly after, Christi McGuire took over the daily operations of Christian Editor Connection.

In 2014, The Christian PEN held the first editors’ conference in Yorba Linda, California, something Kathy had dreamed of since God first gave her the idea in 2004. That weekend, we decided to make it an annual event. PEN member Jenne Acevedo offered to direct it, and we named it PENCON. Since then, our conferences have been held in Austin, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Atlanta, GA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Nashville, TN. PENCON 2020 was our first virtual editors’ conference, and subsequent PENCON events have also been virtual as we strive to balance both the wellbeing and professional development of our members.

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At the first official PENCON, we brainstormed ways to update The Christian PEN with new branding and a new professional membership level. Jenne Acevedo became the director of the PEN at that time. Then, through the incredible efforts of several PEN coordinators, we researched and planned a new look for the organization, with added benefits and opportunities. In January 2016, we launched our Silver and Gold Membership levels, fresh branding, and a new website.

During our conference in 2016, Kathy, Christi, and Jenne spent hours with several people discussing the options for forming a business out of the organizations that continued to see amazing growth. Almost a year of planning became a reality in July 2016 when we established Christian Editor Network as co-owners.

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Education has always been a key part of what we do, so we created a separate division for it in September 2016. The PEN Institute, originally directed by Christi McGuire, features online courses and more learning opportunities for freelance editors, in-house editors at publishing houses, and early readers/editors who work for agents in the Christian industry. Erin K. Brown took over as director in 2019, followed by Stephany Araujo and Susan K. Stewart. Over the years, The PEN Institute has grown to offer courses, webinars, mentoring, and more. Members of The Christian PEN receive discounts on education through The PEN Institute.

In 2019, Sharon Ford became PEN Director and Karin Beery became CEC Director. Irene Chambers, former CEC assistant and the coordinator of the Excellence in Editing Award, was next to fill the CEC Director role, succeeded by Christy Distler. Jeanette Cameron followed Sharon Ford in filling the director role of The Christian PEN.

Also in 2019, Christi McGuire and Jenne Acevedo left partnership in Christian Editor Network to focus on their families, and Kathy Ide stayed on as sole owner of the company.

In 2022, Jayna Baas became director of The Christian PEN, and Christian Editor Network was renamed Christian Editors Association.

Christian Editors Association is now the parent company to four divisions: The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, Christian Editor Connection, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. CEA also sponsors the Editors’ Choice Award, formerly called Excellence in Editing, to recognize well-edited Christian fiction. Our mission is to equip and empower Christian editors.

What began as a spark of an idea in March 2004 has become an incredible international organization with hundreds of members and subscribers. The same spirit of “cooperative competition” remains in our motto:

“The Christian PEN is dedicated to empowering aspiring and established editors with networking and community.”

Thank you for being a part of us.

 

Kathy Ide
Owner, Christian Editors Association

Meet the Team

Kathy Ide

Owner/Manager, Christian Editors Association

A longtime author and editor, Kathy Ide is passionate about serving the Christian editor community through the organizations she has founded beginning in 2004.

Lora DonceaLora Doncea

Assistant Director, Christian Editors Association

Lora Doncea views editing as ministry and has shared her expertise as a PENCON faculty member, instructor at The PEN Institute, and Editors’ Choice Award winner.

Jayna Baas director photoJayna Baas

Director, The Christian PEN

Jayna Baas has been director of The Christian PEN since 2022 and loves to see other PEN members benefit from this organization as much as she has.

Valerie RieseValerie Riese

PEN Tips Blog Coordinator

Valerie Riese is a best-selling author, writer, and copyeditor who also serves as a PEN Institute instructor and graphic designer and as the PENCON technical assistant.

Pam Lagomarsino

PEN Prayer Coordinator

Pam Lagomarsino specializes in nonfiction editing and serves her fellow PEN members by managing the confidential prayer request email loop.

Zoey Lackie

PEN Facebook Group Coordinator

Dedicated to helping new authors find their wings, Zoey Lackie extends that dedication to fostering personal connections in the PEN’s members-only Facebook group.