Although known as American Christian Romance Writers (ACRW) when featured in the New York Times in 2004, this 650-member group is now known as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in response to the diverse needs of its membership, who write across many genres.

“Romance is still very important to our organization,” says President Tracey Bateman, a romance writer herself. “The name change is good news for our male members. Trying to get your wife to let you attend a conference with four hundred romance writers is a little daunting, even for the most macho.”

Christy award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, who taught a standing-room-only workshop on writing from a man’s perspective, agrees.

“This is a great group and no matter what the name, it has a lot to offer. The name change helped make other types of writers feel included, but the focus of the group is the same—helping writers grow.”

And they are growing. Since their first national conference in 2002 with 100 attendees, ACFW expects over 400 conferees in Nashville this September. Recent speakers include Francine Rivers, Robin Lee Hatcher and Karen Kingsbury, all romance writers at one time.

“The lines between genres are definitely starting to blur,” says Kristin Billerbeck, who wrote romance for several years before bringing chick lit to the Christian market.

As Christian fiction continues to grow up and out, change is expected. Some things though, never change.

“We may have taken romance out of our name,” says group advisor and veteran romance writer Andrea Boeshaar, “but we always want to be known for our love—on and off the page.”