Meeting the needs of Christian writers in the heartland and beyond for over 25 years!
The History of HACWN
January 2016 will mark 27 years that HACWN has been going. And what a 27 years it’s been!
Actually HACWN stemmed out of the ministry of Kansas City Youth for Christ (now Youthfront). Jeanette Gardner Littleton worked for KCYFC Co-Founder, Vidy Metsker, with Conquest magazine, a 48-page, monthly publication that also included a daily devotional section, Inspiration.
Most of the devotionals were submitted by volunteers. Around 1987 Jeanette and Vidy decided to have an appreciation banquet for those volunteers and Jeanette taught a workshop on writing. The evening was well received, and the two decided it would be fun to have periodic fellowship times.
Eventually, people who’d written for Inspiration decided to form an organization, Kansas City Christian Writers Network, meeting monthly and open to all Christian writers. The first monthly meeting was planned for Jan. 1989, and Vidy Metsker opened her home for meetings.
From the beginning, this group was set up to help people primarily to learn writing skills and for networking—to help people get published.
Local editors usually taught at the monthly meetings. From the beginning the group had a monthly newsletter that went out to 100 people. KCCWN was a free organization. Some people gave donations to help pay for the newsletter mailing, and our speakers all volunteered their time and experience.
About 1990 KCCWN had the first one-day conference with Stan Baldwin, a writer from Oregon who was going to be in the area. Gradually the ministry started having conferences with local editors. In the early 90s, they also started having Spring retreats.
During this time, Vidy Metsker was often out of town, and her husband, Al’s, health began failing. So in Jan. 1993, KCCWN began to meet at the home of Rhonda Stock, who helped plan the direction of the organization.
A New Direction And Identity
In 1996, Jeanette met Mark Littleton while both were teaching at a writers’ conference in Virginia. As Jeanette prepared to marry and move to Mark’s home in Maryland, Rhonda and she prayed about a new director for the group— Rhonda felt called to be assistant, not director. The two leaders felt sure that Teresa Vining was the person to take over, and she acquiesced. Rhonda and Jeanette felt confident that Teresa would fulfill God’s calling with the group. And they were right.
Teresa led HACWN to a much more professional level. She set up an advisory board (AB) to help her lead, and membership levels and fees so the organization wouldn’t be as limited. She moved the monthly meetings to churches. She still had conferences and retreats and a newsletter. She experimented with different things, such as quarterly meetings, to better meet the current needs of the HACWN members.
Because of KCCWN’s expanding outreach through the Midwest, Teresa and her AB changed the name to Heart of America Christian Writers Network.
A New Leadership Team
In 2000, Jeanette and Mark moved back to Kansas City. In mid 2001, Teresa was having her second book and second baby and felt HACWN was becoming a bit too much for her at that stage of life. She asked if Jeanette and Mark would be interested in working with leadership of the group. She was willing to remain as a member of the AB.
Jeanette and Mark agreed to become co-directors of the group. The AB at the time—Rhonda Stock, Sally Danley, Sally Jadlow, Karen Igla, Debbie Stack, Cheryl Gochenaur, Denise Godwin, and Teresa—taught them the new ropes. Teresa remained only a phone call or e-mail away—and still gave lots of wise input into the group.
As life changes, some people left the AB and others joined. Today the AB includes: Sally Danley, Sally Jadlow, Ardy Kolb, Zeta Davidson, and Karen Morerod.
Encouraging And Equipping Writers
When Mark and Jeanette started working with the group, we found members were longing to get more personal feedback on their writing, so HACWN started critique groups, and returned to hosting monthly meetings. As HACWN writers grew more advanced, the leadership started expanding the conference and having occasional Spring workshops or retreats, as well as adding Virtual Mentoring Retreats from the convenience of home.
Besides the AB team meeting ministry needs, HACWN members have volunteered to help make the ministry succeed: from critique group leaders spearheading monthly and bi-monthly meetings in different parts of the city, to the many Fall conference volunteers, to even people like LeAnn Campbell who provides monthly e-mail and newsletter marketing leads. Other members speak at, or help lead portions of the monthly meetings.
Today HACWN’s membership is around 170, the highest in HACWN history. HACWN members are not only in the Greater Kansas City area, but we also have members throughout Kansas and Missouri, and in Arkansas, Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi, Washington, South Dakota and other states.
We’ve come a long way in nearly 25 years. As we enter the next 25 years, the HACWN AB continues to try to find traditional, and innovative, ways to meet the needs of Christian writers in the heartland and beyond. If you’re not already a member, come be part of the journey! We hope we can help you make your writing dreams come true!