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. She 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 to have a network of established, professional freelance editors. So she created Christian Editor Connection with the sole purpose of putting authors, agents, and publishers together with established, experienced, professional Christian editors.
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, an active PEN member, took over the daily operations of Christian Editor Connection. In 2019, Sharon Ford became The Christian PEN’s director and Karin Beery became the director of Christian Editor Connection. Both were active members of PEN supporting its growth as coordinator and faculty. Irene Chambers, former CEC assistant and EIE Coordinator, was next to fill the Christian Editor Connection director role and was succeeded by Christy Distler.
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 due to the global pandemic. Subsequent PENCON events have also been virtual as we strive to balance both the well-being and the professional development of our members.
At the first official PENCON, we brainstormed ways to update the PEN by changing the branding and creating 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 for 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. Active PEN members Jeanette Cameron and Jayna Baas followed Jenne Acevedo and Sharon Ford in filling the director role of The Christian PEN.
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.
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. With Erin K. Brown taking over as director in 2019 and Stephany Araujo following two years later, The PEN Institute has grown to offer courses, webinars, mentoring, and more. Members of The Christian PEN receive discounts on their education through The PEN Institute.
Christian Editor Network is now the parent company to four divisions: The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, Christian Editor Connection, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. Our mission is to equip and empower Christian editors.
In May 2019, Christi McGuire and Jenne Acevedo left partnership in the Christian Editor Network to focus on their families, and Kathy Ide stayed on as sole owner of the company. What began as a spark of an idea in March 2004 has become an incredible international organization with more than a thousand 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.
Owner, Christian Editor Network