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No matter how thoroughly you plan in this business, there is always one commandment to remember.

Be flexible.

All along, this issue was set up to include the Annual Manual, our ambitious guide to the area for newcomers, natives, visitors and everyone in between.

For the main paper's cover centerpiece, we were preparing a separate package. Then came an astonishing story: the tearing apart of Grace Episcopal Church, arguably the city's most influential congregation, as measured by the power of its members and families over the past 135 years.

To us, stories such as Grace's split (see page 16) provide a compelling opportunity to dig beneath the surface emotions, pursuing questions left hanging by other media.

But wait. The first part of our quest is convincing casual readers to pick up the Independent, and we couldn't escape the conclusion that our photos of Grace Episcopal's bell tower, though striking, would be ineffective on the cover.

The result is one of our many juxtapositional shots taken for the Annual Manual. But we still have the Grace story, along with instant analysis of the city election.

You've come this far, a positive sign. The cover helped bring you here, but the real substance lies further inside along with the insert magazine, which hopefully you'll keep for future reference.

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