In January, 1978, B. Russell Holt, a youthful 32, joined our MINISTRY staff as an executive editor. In six-plus years MINISTRY, under his able editorial leader ship, has become one of the leading ministerial journals in the world. Keep in mind that half our regular subscription list goes to ministers working outside the United States and Canada. Our circulation to the Adventist ministry is between 16,000 and 17,000 each month. In addition, the alternate issues go to nearly 250,000 non-Adventist clergy, mainly in North America.
Evidence of Holt's excellent leader ship was recently underlined by an expert magazine consultant hired to critique the various journals printed by the Review and Herald Publishing Association. His critique was taped, and a transcription of it is in my possession. John Peters, an able consultant, said, "I think MINISTRY is one swell magazine." He continued, "It is a good job in every way. I can nitpick it a bit, but I said earlier it really engaged me, and I thought this was wonderful. I think that I have marked up the copies I had a little, because actually, if I can't find some fault, why should I come here!"
He made a few minor comments relative to improving the journal, but what touched us most of all is that his testimony was "I couldn't resist reading some of these articles that really I wouldn't normally be that interested in, but the magazine captured my attention." He spoke of the "nice format." He used adjectives such as "wonderful" and "marvelous." Naturally, we were thrilled with this excellent report on our journal, and much of the credit goes to Russell Holt.
Kenneth Holland, then editor of the now-discontinued These Times, and presently the editor of our new combined evangelistic journal Signs of the Times, is the one who recommended Russ to me. Holland knew him intimately since they worked together for a few years on These Times in Nashville, Tennessee. His recommendation was so glowing and positive that I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, where Russ was pastoring. I interviewed him, along with his wife, Judy, a talented nurse, at an eatery well known to most Westerners, The Spaghetti Factory! After a couple hours of getting acquainted, I left with my mind fairly set on Russ as the man for the post. I went on to California to interview others, but God's Spirit continued to impress me that Russ was the one we wanted. Subsequent events have more than substantiated the leading of the Holy Spirit in selecting him.
The same Kenneth Holland who recommended Russ to me has shown extraordinarily good judgment by calling Russ to his side as one of the editors of Signs. We shall miss his quiet, unflappable demeanor. His judgment has exceeded that of many a person with far more years of experience. Although serious in deportment, his wit was quietly irresistible. I shall personally miss him not only as my right-hand editor but as a confidant. He is a trustworthy man in every respect.
Although his true love is editing and writing, Russell has a broad base of knowledge and skills that increases his value as a husband, father, school board member, Sabbath school teacher, local elder of a church, and chairman of the General Conference worship committee and the General Conference picnic committee. These activities, plus many others, show the broad-ranged contribution he has made not only to our journal but to the church in general. I know he will perform magnificently in his new task as associate editor of our new journal Signs.
Above and beyond all laudatory remarks, the highest honor I can bestow on Russ is to say that I know him to be a true, practicing Christian.
When someone asked Russ how he got interested in writing, he told the story of taking a class in the history of church music in his college days. His final exam was an essay. When the paper was returned it had the notation "You should consider a career in denominational journalism." I don't know who that teacher was, but I could hope that other teachers will write similar notes to those who show interest and skill in editing and writing. There is a shortage of qualified individuals of this type.
We pray that Russ and his wife, Judy, and their two sweet children, Amy and Andrew, will enjoy their new home! And we want Russ to know that we shall be remembering him in our prayers as he continues to sharpen his skills as an editor with the Pacific Press Publishing Association.
So Russ, Judy, and children, we bid you adieu, and may God bless you. —J.R.S.