After having little previous involvement with the Evangelical Press Association (EPA), Kerry Kind, editor of Wesleyan Life magazine, decided to try competing in its longstanding annual magazine contest. “I looked at all the winners from last year, and I decided we could learn something from this process. I’m sure I didn’t enter all our best work in the right categories,” he admitted. “There was some guess work.” With over 900 entries in the contest, the chances for an award appeared slim. Kind knew this, and expected only to gain some experience the first year.

The awards won, then, come as a surprise. Wesleyan Life received six awards, three from each EPA contest: the Awards of Excellence (for the publication as a whole) and the Higher Goals Awards (for specialized aspects of the magazine). The most prized award for the team was the Award of Excellence for Most Improved. This meant that for the approximately 200 evangelical magazines which are part of the EPA, Wesleyan Life was the most improved magazine in 2013. Each entrant provided three consecutive issues from 2012 to be compared with the ones from 2013. As Kind pointed out, Wesleyan Life was essentially competing with itself. “We were good in 2012, but we made some positive changes in 2013, and they noticed it,” Kind said.

Kind could not be happier with the outcome and knows how meaningful receiving recognition is. His own piece, “Lakota Rising,” received a fifth place award in the Higher Goals reporting category. Kind is appreciative not only of his editorial team, but also for the design team and the awards they received, including a “top 5” award for overall design.

“I am truly honored to be part of the Wesleyan Life editorial team,” said Tricia Rife, assistant editor. “This team is committed to producing a quality product with the intent to inform, inspire, and encourage Wesleyans with stories of changed lives, communities, and churches.”

“It’s a true honor to be recognized by such a respected organization as the EPA,” said Kory Pence, creative director. “An award-winning magazine is the side effect of working with faithful collaborators committed to the vision of seeing lives made new in Christ.”

“These awards have encouraged us to shoot higher, reach farther, and continue to glorify God through the creativity he has given us,” said Julia Park, designer.

Wayne MacBeth serves as executive editor of Wesleyan Life. He, too, is pleased with the magazine’s success and the team producing it.

“We have a talented team and these awards bear testimony to their effective work,” said MacBeth. “Beyond that, it is a privilege to collect and tell the wonderful stories of God at work today in and through our many Wesleyan churches.”

Those outside of the magazine have shown their support and were glad to hear of the outcome. Rev. Isaac Smith, Northwest District superintendent and a member of the General Board, was not surprised to learn of the success. “Wesleyan Life has earned these awards,” he said. “The magazine is attractive and appealing with short, cogent articles that set the tone and culture of The Wesleyan Church.”

Although some of the judges’ feedback was appropriately critical, all of the comments were helpful for the Wesleyan Life team. Overall, judges’ comments were far more positive than expected. The opportunity to make new connections at the EPA conference, where the award winners were announced, also benefited the team. “It’s not just for the competition, but also the conference and networking is highly beneficial,” Kind said.

Kind plans to enter the contests again next year. He looks forward to implementing the ideas he has learned from the process. There are still many things we can work on to gradually move from good to great,” Kind said. Seminars at the conference helped him to identify some of these ideas. He remembers looking closely at the hundreds of magazine samples and being positively impressed. “You start glancing through all of the evangelical magazines available, and there are some very, very good ones,” Kind said.

Full List of Awards Received at 2014 EPA Convention

Awards of Excellence

Award of Excellence: Most Improved evangelical magazine

Award of Merit (top 5): Denominational

Award of Merit (top 5): Denominational (Digital)

Higher Goals (all types of publications)

Overall Publication Design: 5th place

Reporting: 5th place; “Lakota Rising”

Typography and Lettering: 5th place; “Setting Captives Free”

To learn more about EPA and the contests or conference, visit its website here.