Board and Staff Changes Signal Growth, Continuity at The Word Guild

Canada’s largest association of writers and editors who are Christian continues its growth trajectory as new board and staff members assume responsibilities.

MARKHAM, ONTARIO—The appointment of retired book publisher John W. Irwin (Irwin Publishing) as The Word Guild’s board chair in June this year, and the addition of new board members, provide strategic leadership for the association’s future development.

Each new member comes with a depth of writing experience and an understanding of both the writing community and publishing industry in Canada.  Consequently they possess the qualifications to help The Word Guild become more effective in its role of equipping Canadian writers, challenging them to reach for excellence.

Brad Burke, MD, is a Christian medical specialist, speaker, and author who took a five-year sabbatical from practicing medicine to research and write the compelling book series, An MD Examines. Brad has been a guest on several radio and TV shows, including 100 Huntley Street and Janet Parshall’s syndicated show, America.  The Word Guild has played a key role in Brad’s writing success.

Audrey Dorsch started her career in newspaper journalism, and then edited the Canadian constituency magazine for Wycliffe Bible translators. Audrey is the former managing editor of Faith Today. She has been self-employed as an editor and indexer since 1998. Some of the more than 200 books she has edited have won awards, including the 2001 Christy Award. She has directed and taught at dozens of writers’ seminars in Canada and the United States, and coordinated a communications program at Tyndale College.

John Irwin, an active member in many church and para-church organizations, brings a wealth of board experience. He has served on the boards of McMaster Divinity College, Toronto School of Theology, Wycliffe College, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and many others. He is committed to supporting and furthering the evangelistic mission of the church and the authority of Scripture.

John, with his wife, retired classics professor M. Eleanor Irwin, in conjunction with The Word Guild, recently initiated Canada’s largest literary prize for writers who are Christian—the $5,000 Grace Irwin Award.

Les Lindquist, having served with distinction as board chair, has stepped down in order to pursue some special projects. He will, however, remain on the board as treasurer, a role he has fulfilled while serving as chair.

Les is a change consultant with 35 years’ experience at IBM and a partner with his wife, award-winning author and co-founder of The Word Guild, in the publishing company, That’s Life! Communications. Les has played an instrumental role in The Word Guild since its founding. A board member since 2002, his business acumen and steady hand in the business end of things has ensured that The Word Guild has developed on a firm foundation.

Eric Wright served with his wife, Mary Helen, as a missionary in Pakistan for 16 years.  He was introduced to writing when he founded The Open Theological Seminary, for which he wrote six self-teaching textbooks. After returning to Canada, while serving in pastoral ministry, he became more and more committed to writing materials that would inspire Christians to live lives that are biblically sound and practically godly. Eric is the author of several books of fiction and nonfiction, some of which have won awards.

Former board members have played a key role in helping develop The Word Guild to its current status. These include award-winning author—and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal—Donna Mann, and charter members Eric Spath, formerly event manager at World Vision, now the owner of Satellite Sky Solutions, and Johanne Robertson, publisher of Maranatha News. The Word Guild thanks them for their strategic contributions.

With the resignation of long-time Write! Canada director, N. J. Lindquist, a new curriculum team has been developed to search out faculty, review workshop proposals and set the direction of the conference. Members of the team are Bill Fledderus, Les Lindquist, Wendy Nelles, Denise Rumble, Elma Schemenauer and Jayne Self.

The latest development is the new staff appointment of Jayne E. Self as the Write! Canada director. Write! Canada is The Word Guild’s flagship three-day annual writers’ conference held in June in Guelph, Ontario. 

Jayne is an award-winning writer, speaker, and church musician. Her work includes mysteries, short stories, non-fiction articles and devotionals. Murder in Hum Harbour: A Seaglass Mystery won The Word Guild’s 2012 Canadian Christian Writing Award in the mystery-suspense category. Its sequel, Death of a Highland Heavyweight, was released in June. An active member of The Word Guild, Jayne has lived coast to coast in Canada and presently resides in Orangeville, Ontario.

Her staff role will be to organize and manage the annual Write! Canada conference. “I’m not the tallest or most outgoing person in the world,” quips Jayne, “but I know God is doing something exciting among Canada’s Christian writers and I want to be part of what He’s doing.”

Jayne joins a small but talented staff that includes, Denise Rumble, managing director, Judy Bingley, administrative assistant; Mary Ann Benjamins, awards administrator; Trish Heidebrecht, sponsorships and award gala coordinator; and volunteer team leads Janet Sketchley, Prayer Team Lead; and Neil Bramble, Communications Team Lead. Together with the board, these individuals constitute The Word Guild’s leadership team. Together they work with the single purpose of developing Canadian writers and editors who are Christian so that they can influence the Canadian culture through their writing careers.