The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) in Chichewa has been a key feature, and one of particular strength, in the EPC-M. The catechisms are a prized possession amongst members of the EPC-M although the print and binding quality of these books was never meant to endure constant referencing. The Presbytery of EPC-A offered to support the work by printing as many catechisms as the team was able to carry across on the plane.
It was a new challenge to work towards a weight limit and it became apparent that we could carry a lot more of the WSC if printed without the scripture proofs – three times as many copies, gram for gram. The team, comprising Rev Connors, Phil and Jono, brought 1500 WSCs (just the questions and answers) and another 600 WSCs with scripture proofs. Binding costs were extraordinarily high in Launceston ($0.50 per booklet) so we figured we could make the dollars stretch twice as far by stapling the books ourselves. Kids had their fun collating copies and stapling them into books, all the while knowing that each book can accompany the members in Malawi with many years of learning and elucidation.
Publication Workflow (for the geeks)
The EPC-M pastors had translated the WSC to Chichewa in 2012 and provided us with the Word document. The text was transferred to HTML so that I could control the page layouts more precisely using CSS rules (very useful for eliminating “orphans”). The aim was to maximise legibility and minimise page count, so setting it by rules rather than by Word styles gave better control. The HTML was then converted to a high quality pdf using Prince XML.
About 2-3 months after the mission team went, we were informed that the EPC-M had run out of catechisms. There is a need to get more copies out and we are on the lookout for managing remote print jobs, possibly in South Africa, so that we are not constrained by weight. The WSC with proof texts are really valuable learning, and for many Malawians it may be the only Bible verses they have access to. Besides the WSC there is much other material that can be printed like the Children’s Catechism by GDS Media and the ongoing work in EPC-M to produce a Chichewa Psalter.
Please leave a comment below or on the contact form if you know of a reputable and affordable printer that can ship/truck to Malawi.