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Unbound will unwrap a new look first day of Advent

PC(USA) Christian social justice journal launching redesign and new features on Sunday

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The redesigned website for Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice, debuts Sunday.

LOUISVILLE — Between the commercial observances of Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice is giving its readers a gift for the first Sunday of Advent: a new look.

On Dec. 1, readers will be greeted by a clean, white, newspaper-like design with organized columns, topical dropdown menus, and a flexible new logo featuring a breaking chain.

“The goal was definitely to kind of strip it down in some ways, to consolidate, to make it a little more accessible, and provide a platform that is easy to navigate,” said Lee Catoe, the newly-appointed managing editor of the journal. “It’s going to be very minimalistic, but very much concentrated on the content itself.”

Unbound was launched eight years ago this month by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy — one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency — as an online source of faith-based social justice thought and information for academics and advocates.

“We are doing something potentially unprecedented in trying to be both journal and community organizer,” Patrick David Heery, Unbound’s founding managing editor said in a 2011 Presbyterian News Service story. Unbound was described as a successor to Church & Society, a journal that ceased publication in 2006 after 98 years in print.

The journal provides blog posts and other content about issues of the day such as impeachment, immigration and foreign affairs, as well as “issues” that serve as deep dives into topics. The current issue, “We Are Still Here: The Anti-Doctrine of Discovery,” looks at dismantling systemic oppression of people who are Native American, a legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery and its ideologies.

Lee Catoe, a musician and songwriter, is the fourth managing editor for Unbound. (Contributed photo)

“Because I liked the content so much, I felt that that we needed a platform to highlight it as best as we could,” said Catoe, the journal’s fourth managing editor. “So the content was pretty much the driver for the redo. It wasn’t just that it needs to look nice or, or anything like that.”

As he moves forward, Catoe hopes to diversify the content into areas such as music, visual arts and podcasting.

“The artists will be the ones who are speaking to the now and expressing those things,” said Catoe, who is a musician and songwriter. “And I think that inviting people to think about justice issues, not only in writing but also in music and visual arts, performance, film, even poetry — there are so many different ways that we can engage these issues that I think will be powerful.”

Submitting to Unbound has been made easier with a “submit” button on the website and open email, Between the redesign and diversified content, Catoe also hopes to draw in a younger audience.

“Unbound has kind of been characterized as a very academic space for academic writing,” Catoe said. “But I think Unbound can kind of move our ideas about what that means and kind of change our ideas trying to get more diversity of voices in there.

“My other job position is the associated for Young Adult Social Witness. Creating a space for young adult voices and even younger, and kind of changing our ideas of what how this content can be written or how it can be produced and more creative ways by multiple generations, I think kids can speak to justice issues. I think young adults can speak to the older adults in a variety of different ways.”

The redesigned Unbound will feature social media. The redesigned website, at, debuts Sunday, the first day of Advent.

Catoe also plans to make social media an integral part of Unbound, adding an Instagram feed to its Facebook and Twitter offerings. And early in 2020, Unbound will partner with the UKIRK college ministry for an arts competition letting people highlight how they have used the arts in their advocacy for social justice.

But in the midst of change, there are things that will remain the same, as illustrated by the very season that the new Unbound launches. Unbound will feature its annual Advent guide, and many established writers and features will remain, including Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy coordinator the Rev. Dr. Chris Iosso. And, of course, there will be plenty to search through in the Unbound archive.

“I’m kind of excited about Advent and 2020,” Catoe said. “We’ll see where it goes. But I have a lot of posts on there. It’s very exciting and very simple.”

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