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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


E-mail to Odyssey members and friends

Yesterday I sent my first e-mail letter to the members and friends of the Odyssey Networks in my new position as their Senior Vice President for Philanthropy & Faith Community Relations. Here is the text of that letter (the actual e-mail letter also included the Odyssey emblem, my photo and signature):


January, 2010


For those of you who do not know me, I am the Rev. Eric C. Shafer, Odyssey’s new Senior Vice President for Philanthropy & Faith Community Relations. I began my ministry with Odyssey on the 4th of this month, so I am definitely the “new kid in town!” However, as many of you know, I have a long history with Odyssey Networks, stretching back to the beginning of our work together in 1987 and 1988. Most recently I served for four years on the Board of Trustees of our “parent,” the National Interfaith Cable Coalition (NICC), where I was the Finance Committee Chair and on the Executive Committee.

It is a real pleasure to have now joined the staff team here in New York and to be working with our new President, Nick Stuart, and the others on this very fine staff. You can read more about me on Odyssey’s website at http://www.odysseynetworks.org/AboutUs/Staff/tabid/78/Default.aspx .

I look forward to hearing from you and visiting with you at your office (and I do respond to invitations!) Let’s talk soon about how we might get together.

I will be attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville from February 26 – March 2 and hope to connect with those of you who will also be at that convention. Please let me know if you plan to be present so that we might get together in Nashville.

More important is our gathering of Odyssey member representatives just prior to the Religion Communication Congress 2010 (www.rcc2010.org) in Chicago, April 7 – 10. An Odyssey member meeting will be held at the Chicago Marriott Hotel Downtown at 540 North Michigan Avenue, the location of the Congress, on Wednesday, April 7, beginning at 3:00 p.m. We will finish our time together in time for us all to get the Congress’ opening banquet that evening. At that meeting we will outline the new member structures which are being put in place to improve our member relationships and contacts and describe this year’s member production grants. I know that at least a dozen member representatives have already indicated to my assistant, Steve Tofte, that they plan to be present. I am pleased that, in addition to these folks and several Odyssey staff members, representatives of our newest member, Harran Productions Foundation (www.harranfoundation.org), will also be able to be with us that day as will the Rev. Dr. James Wind, President of the Alban Institute and chair of the new NICC Board of Trustees Membership Committee.

I know that many of our members are presently heavily involved in numerous aspects of disaster response work following the Haiti earthquake. We would be happy to link to your video and print pieces from the Odyssey website – please let Mat Tombers know of your Haiti relief work and how we might connect to it – mtombers@odysseynetworks.org .

Mat is also interested in knowing what sort of short form materials you might have for Odyssey’s new mobile network that will be launched later this year. Through our contract with GO TV, Odyssey will be the premium mobile “app” for religion and faith materials. In addition to your content, Mat is also interested in your thoughts about what else we should be providing for faith-seeking mobile users.

In addition to our new Odyssey “channel” for mobile, we will be re-launching the Odyssey website, www.odysseynetworks.org, later this year. The new website will be an interfaith online network to share your short and long form video materials. Again, speak with Mat (who will be with us in Chicago in April) about your content and interest. Also later this year, Mat will begin an intranet site for staff and members only so that we can have easy ongoing contact and sharing.

Part of our new member benefits will be an annual membership meeting. Members have already asked that this session at least include workshops, showcases and a producer’s retreat. This year this gathering will be held during/around the meetings of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Communication Commission. Their meeting is September 28 – 30 in Washington, D.C. How we will interface with their meetings (sessions during, before and/or after) is not yet clear, but I wanted to share these dates so that you might hold that week for member meetings. We are doing these sessions with the NCC for the obvious reason to save on travel expenses (and to reduce our “carbon footprint”) and the obvious common interests and staff who might attend both sessions. Thanks to the NCC’s Pat Pattillo for his willingness to hold our meetings cooperatively!

Well, this is probably enough (even too much!) for my first communication with you all! I plan to communicate with you regularly and would welcome your response!

Here is a summary of my many requests in this missive:

· Your invitations for me to visit with you in your offices
· Contact if you are planning to be at the NRB meeting in Nashville
· Your presence at our April 7th Odyssey member meeting in Chicago
· Your Haiti relief materials for our website content/connection
· Your content for our new Odyssey mobile network and your ideas for other content that should be part of this network
· Your content for our renewed website, www.odysseynetworks.org and
· Your hold on September 27 – October 1 for possible member meetings and workshop sessions

Thank you for staying with me through all of this! I look forward to our continued contact.

The Rev. Eric C. Shafer
Senior Vice President
Philanthropy & Faith Community Relations
Odyssey Networks
475 Riverside Drive, #530
New York, New York 10115
Voice – 212-870-1030
Fax – 212-870-1040
Cell – 267-222-0964

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