For the professionals of The Pilgrim Press

I signed my first book contract with Pilgrim Press in 1982. Since that time I have published fifteen books with them, written chapters in other books, and tried my hand at miscellaneous curriculum. (I will not mention how many of my proposals were turned down!!) Over the last several years many jobs have been eliminated at the Pilgrim Press as the United Church of Christ denomination has tried to shift its resources to best engage its mission. I do not know which jobs may be lost in the latest eliminations, but I can’t wait any longer to offer my appreciation to staff current and past.

For the professionals of The Pilgrim Press

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. …
If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.” —Thomas Merton

There are people who walk around
making the words of others shine like the sun.

Some of them believe in writers
who are brand new or pretty old,
too angry,
too hopeful, too black,
who name the truth
in church or world
that no one wants to read,
and also our embarrassing joy —

refusing to be the literary
cheeseplates of the day – the easy sell.

Some of them edit and copyedit
and lay out — a jumble
of thoughts
until they are clear and beautiful
and people can read them
and something true
is written on their hearts.

Some of them market books
for authors who imagine
there is some magic sleight of hand
they need never learn,
about all that scary selling.

Some of them answer questions,
and handle permissions,
explain things again and again,
go home sad because there was
too much “no,”
try to be a business and a church
at the same time,
and are expected to consider
literary trends, theology and t-shirts
all in one long day,

and some, truly saints –
ship books around the world
and then when the books come back,
fight the good fight
with the US Post Office.

There are people who walk around
making the words of others shine like the sun.

They make books
and people’s lives are changed.

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6 Responses to For the professionals of The Pilgrim Press

  1. Emily Geoghegan says:

    A beautiful tribute Maren. Nicely done.

  2. Leanne Tigert says:

    Thanks Maren
    I also had wonderful relationships with the individuals at Pilgrim Press— I can never thank them enough for believing in me and my first book back in 1991. They were great at taking risks with new writers!!

  3. Kris Firth says:


    Thanks so much for these beautiful words. Rick and I learned of the recent upheaval via an email from Rev. Emily Heath, whose book is halfway through production with us. We are only *assuming* it will continue through to print but have heard zippo from anyone at the press.

    We heard that Aimée is gone and Tina will be at the end of the year—but nothing else. If you know anything more and are willing to share with a lowly freelancer, I’m all ears!

    Also, I don’t often reply/comment on your Gifts in Open Hands posts, but I love them.


    Kris Firth

    • Maren says:

      Kris, I was specifically thinking of you and Rick in the stanza about copyediting and editing and about Aimee for marketing. I know less than you, having never been in any of the national setting loops — my information is from random facebook posts, but I thought it was important to say “thank you.”

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