After twenty-two years of editorial responsibility for THE MINISTRY—having had the privilege of founding it in January, 1928, and continuing in uninterrupted charge until and including this issue—I now turn over the full editorial responsibility to the General Conference officers and committee, under whose direction I have labored throughout this enjoyable period, and to the newly appointed staff, who will earnestly carry on.
Having been asked to carry this special sixty-four-page September issue through to completion, I conclude my work with this fare well message in the capacity of editor. It will be a bit more intimate and personal than customary—a heart-to-heart chat—but this is understandable.
During these twenty-two years THE .MINIS TRY has become solidly established in the thinking and affection of our workers, and now reaches practically every English-reading evangelical worker of the movement, with extension journals in several non-English languages, based on the parent magazine. It was never designed for, and has never been edited for, our laity. It is "the workers' own journal," the official organ of the Ministerial Association.
The many hundreds of letters that have come to our editorial office and to the publishers at test the high, general esteem in which it is apparently held, and which we believe is now more pronounced than ever. Even religious leaders outside this cause have spoken in highest terms of its uniqueness, its high standards, and its obvious value to the church it serves, suggesting that their own organizations would greatly profit by similar mediums.
This journal has sought to stand unswervingly for the highest worker progress. It has endeavored to give a balanced dietary of articles, items, and features, and has ever followed and exalted the clear blueprint given for our guidance. It has provided a forum for expression of conviction, and has dealt frankly and fearlessly with issues and trends that affect the success of our individual and collective ministry, and consequently the welfare of the cause we love. It has ever sought to maintain high scholarly standards and to observe scrupulous fidelity to fact. It has consistently sought to present the positive side of truth and to stress a Christ-centered gospel in its full present-truth setting and application. Its motto has been "For Greater Power and More Efficiency." There has been earnest endeavor to make it a world journal, serving all workers.
How well it has succeeded in these whole some objectives must be left to the dispassion ate verdict of history. Its editorial ideals and aims have ever been far ahead of its actual accomplishments. But God has blessed, and we gratefully acknowledge His guidance and help. My associates on the staff have been most loyal and efficient. And I would be remiss were mention not here made of the strong and consistent moral support extended this journal and its editor by the leadership of the movement throughout these years. When needful there has been consultation with our leaders at headquarters, and in the field, over important issues needing discussion. And frequent recourse has been had to the counsel of experts over articles involving technical matters in the realm of history, archaeology, Biblical languages, science, matters of health and nutrition, and delicate points in the realm of theology. This precaution has been exercised for the protection of reader, editor, and cause alike.
Before I take leave as editor, MINISTRY readers may be interested in two human-interest episodes not generally known, but which may now well go into the record. The first is this: When I was asked to join Arthur G. Daniells as an associate secretary in the Ministerial Association, back in 1926, he was in the midst of his great series of impressive institutes for our ministers, which were greatly blessed of God. But this work was always markedly localized. When he was ministering in one place he was automatically unable to be in any other place. Of this he was keenly conscious, and felt that in some way we should be able to reach and influence more workers at the same time, and to do so more continuously.
Having been trained in editorial work—serving on the Signs of the Times, then on the Chinese Signs, and having just come from the editing of the Watchman Magazine (now Our Times}—I naturally proposed a modest journal for workers. The suggestion of a magazine pleased quite a few, including Elder Daniells. But it disturbed others. We were too small a people, we were frankly told, for a separate preachers' journal. We already had the good old Review; why not admonish our workers through its columns? Then, too, it might lessen the circulation and encroach on the influence of that venerable journal. Moreover, we had gone on all these years without such a vehicle; why start one now?—and so on. The arguments were interesting and sometimes curious.
Clearly the moment was not propitious for such a journal. We said no more, but began to issue a comprehensive group of mimeograph exchanges—one for evangelists, another for pastors, and still others for Bible teachers, gospel musicians, and sanitarium chaplains. These modest exchanges were well received. But as members of the several groups heard of the other exchanges, they requested to be listed for those as well. The supplying of these various groups with the different exchanges soon became such a large task—just as we had hoped—that the brethren agreed to a small printed exchange to take their place, available for all groups.
Thus it was that a twenty-four-page MINIS TRY, of Reader's Digest page size, was started. It was acclaimed from the very first. So, simple faith in the place and propriety of such a journal for the service of the field was vindicated. THE MINISTRY was established in response to the definite demand of the field, and the faith and conviction of its projectors and founders— the secretaries of the Ministerial Association. The passage of time has confirmed the wisdom of this provision.
The circulation of THE MINISTRY began among the workers of North America but quickly spread to the world field. Later1 it was increased to thirty-two pages of the present page size. Then, in 1938, authorization was given for it to go to forty-eight pages, so as to include a regular health-evangelism section—with the distinct proviso that advertising would cover some $1,800 of the total cost annually, and that the necessary General Conference subsidy would not exceed $2,000. (Our North American unions each expend from $6,000 to $12,000 annually on their union papers, and count it a sound and profitable investment.) But certain doubters in financial circles said flatly that sufficient ads could not be secured. However, for the last quadrennial period alone the record stands as follows:
From June, 1946, to May, 1950, the total in come from ads for the four-year period was $11,853.02—an average of $2,900 a year, rather than the $ 1,800 pledged.
And now we come to episode number two: This increase in size, to forty-eight pages, came just as I was leaving for extended research work in Europe. We had arranged to print 1,500 extra copies of each of the first two issues, in this larger size, so as to circularize our doctors, hoping thus to secure their subscriptions. After the editor had left for Europe, on the basis of the heavy cost of these first two larger printings, it was theoretically calculated that the loss would reach some $20,000 for the year. That, of course, must not be! Action was accordingly taken to reduce the size, not back to the former thirty-two pages, but to cut it down to sixteen.
I pointed out the faulty premise of the calculation, and the impossibility of success under such unworkable conditions and limitations. When the full facts were established, upon my return, we were authorized to continue on the larger basis. (Actually the loss, or subsidy for the year, was less than the $2,000 agreed to, and the advertising revenue was close to the $1,800 we had promised to raise.)
Thus this major crisis was weathered, and THE MINISTRY continued on in its designated way, influencing not only ministers, Bible instructors, Bible teachers, chaplains, physicians, nurses, and dietitians, but now someone thou sand theological students annually as well, with some local elders, lay preachers, and credentialed colporteurs in addition. These latter special groups, however, are small. Thus the soundness of the plan of enlargement and the coverage and provisions of the increased size in cost were likewise vindicated. And so we have continued to the present.
It is therefore with satisfaction that this firmly established journal can be placed in other hands for greater service than ever before. An abundance of good copy is likewise being- turned over, sufficient to care for the next several issues. Broader plans and advance moves will be fostered through this journal, which will earnestly serve the field as heretofore, strongly supported by the new administration and continuing the same high principles and policies that have characterized the past.
There will be desirable changes in the style, emphasis, and format. That is well, and should be. In fact, such has for some time been contemplated by your long-time editor and his staff. Every journal needs periodically to be recast in format, lest it get into a rut and lose its effectiveness. New features that will create new interests and meet growing needs should supplant older features that have successfully served their time. A new emphasis and force must match the new conditions and opportunities that confront us. These will be carefully studied and carried into effect soon, doubtless with the January issue, which is the logical time for such changes.
And so, members of the ministerial brother hood, farewell as editor. I have been invited by the new staff to write to you periodically through these columns, which I shall gladly do. It has been a high honor and a distinct privilege to have served you now for over twenty- two years. Your support and encouragement throughout this period have been magnificent. And we have had good times together through these monthly visits—out to the ends of the earth.
And farewell, MINISTRY magazine! You are dear to my heart. This could not be otherwise after putting one's best into you for more than two decades—prayers and tears and toil, as well as mind and heart and soul. Success to you in days to come! Be unswervingly true to God, to the high principles of divine truth, to the mounting challenges of the hour, and to the high calling of a journal for the preachers of the supreme message of time and eternity. Farewell!
August 4, 1950.