HarperCollins Christian Publishing Partners With Urban Ministries Incorporated

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Two major forces in US Christian publishing have entered a two-year partnership to extend their respective reach across their consumer bases.

Image: From the Urban Ministries Incorporated site, its Precepts for Living program

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Urban Ministrieds’ Wright: ‘Our Dedication to the Future’
One of the things Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said more eloquently than many of us can was captured on Meet the Press in April 1960.

King said, “I think it is one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies, that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour, in Christian America.” (You can see this clip courtesy of Jason Tripp’s ValleyView Community Church account on YouTube here.)

That observation provides context to a promising announcement this week from Nashville that HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the Chicago-based Urban Ministries Incorporated have created a co-publication and -distribution two-year partnership “that will collectively expand resources into new and existing markets,” as the announcement puts it.

“Through this partnership,” the two companies say in media messaging, “Urban Ministries will help HarperCollins Christian identify, publish, and promote prominent and emerging voices, and distribute more resources relevant to Urban Ministries’ loyal customer base of African-American, and African churches, denominations, and consumers.

“Together, the companies will form new connections with ministry organizations, churches, and Christian readers who engage with the Bible and study God’s word.”

Urban Ministries is described as being the largest independent religious media and publishing company serving the African-American market since it was founded in 1970 by Melvin E. Banks Sr.

HarperCollins Christian, in the media messaging at hand, is reported to have the largest international distribution network for faith-based content.

Schoenwald: ‘A Privilege to Partner’

In a prepared statement, Jeff Wright, CEO of Urban Ministries, is quoted, saying, “Last month, Urban Ministries Incorporated was fortunate to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and this agreement signals our dedication to the future.

Jeff Wright

“United Ministries has a desire to collaborate with companies that share our commitment to the African and African-American audience and we want to be a conduit for God’s word in our community.

“The resources in HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s catalog provide opportunities for personal growth, biblical study for churches and small-groups, values-based children’s books and Bibles, and so much more that our church and ministry partners will value and utilize.”

And for HarperCollins Christian, its president and CEO, Mark Schoenwald, says, “We’ve been working together for more than a year on what would be the best way for the two companies to utilize our respective strengths to impact our companies’ missions.

“Urban Ministries Incorporated has established trusted relationships with church denominations that HarperCollins Christian Publishing has historically underserved. Under this partnership, we know that our books, Bibles, and curriculum will further resonate with the African-American community and it’s a privilege to partner with Urban Ministries to place our God-honoring, bestselling content into the hands of thousands of church congregants across the United States.

“Together, we’ll surpass any milestone that either organization could accomplish separately. We’re excited to learn from one another and build something that will have an eternal impact.”

The two companies are working on several projects as their new agreement gets underway.

“In July 2020,” they’re telling the news media, “the companies created and distributed a contextualized ‘mag-alog,’ to more than 10,000 African-American churches and church leaders to showcase books and Bibles published by HarperCollins Christian that appeal to a more culturally-diverse audience, including an excerpt from Grammy-award winning Christian hip-hop artist and author Lecrae’s most recent book, I Am Restored (Zondervan, October 2020)

“Customers are able to order any of these resources directly from Urban Ministries.

“As the partnership continues to unfold, the two companies will release new resources into the market.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on issues of diversity and inclusivity in the publishing industry is here, more from us on the United States market is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here. Special thanks to CNN political analyst April D. Ryan for her assistance. 

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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