PREACH in jeopardy

Help keep the PREACH program going

J. David Newman is the former editor of Ministry

I have appreciated the gift subscription of Ministry so much that I ordered the other six issues," said Dr. Gordon Moyes, one of Australia's leading ministers, as I sat in his church office in Sydney, Australia. With an annual budget of $47 million and 1300 full-time staff, his Wesley Mission is one of the largest churches in the world.

Dr. Moyes is one of 65,000 non-Adventist ministers who have been receiving Ministry free for the past decade. But now in North America, where some 45,000 ministers receive the magazine, the whole program is in jeopardy.

The economic depression affecting society is also affecting the church. The PREACH (Program for Reaching Every Active Clergy Home) outreach program has always been funded by private donations and subsidies from the General Conference and the North American Di vision. Overseas the program has been funded partly by divisions and partly by local fields. However, the General Conference and the North American Division have withdrawn all subsidies for 1992.

Fifteen of the 59 conferences in the North American Division have decided to continue sponsoring Ministry as a local project. We are thankful for the 15,000 that will continue to receive this journal, but 30,000 clergy will be dropped unless we find more private contributors.

PREACH beginnings

PREACH began as a pilot program in the Columbia Union in 1975 as a result of the vision of Robert Spangler, then editor of Ministry. Spangler wanted to implement the counsel of Ellen White that we should "come near to the ministers of other denominations" (Testimonies vol. 6, p. 78) and that a "fund should be raised" to do this work "both here and in other countries" (Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 580, 581).

Spangler also wanted to share with the ministers of other denominations the helpful material that we were giving to our own pastors. In addition, he hoped that this program would help remove many of the misconceptions that some have regarding our church.

Three years ago more than 200,000 ministers were receiving Ministry, but a budget crunch then forced us to reduce the circulation. We asked each minister to return a card indicating whether he would still like to receive this journal. More than 40,000 clergy responded.

Letters of thanks

In 1989 the General Conference Ministerial Association published Seventh-day Adventists Believe. A fund-raising drive by Robert Spangler brought in enough donations to enable Ministry to send copies of this book to the original mailing list of 200,000 ministers. We received more than 1,000 letters thanking us for the book and Ministry.

The original mailing list contained the names of a number of deceased pastors.

Their widows wrote to thank us for the journal, asking if they could continue to receive it. Many pastors use it to teach Sunday school classes. Retired ministers still volunteering in pulpits wrote. They and many independent ministers look to Ministry as their only pastoral resource material.

Some letters requested information on vegetarianism and healthful living; others came from pastors who believed in the seventh-day Sabbath and were even keeping it. Here are just a few of the letters:

  • "I was pleased to find a copy of your journal in one of our friaries in another state and found I could be added to your list. It is rare to find such a comprehensive and inclusive publication dealing with matters of faith and religion that focuses on the needs of all people. I believe the journal will be a boon to my understanding of ministry."
  • "When I am done with Ministry, I give it to my Sunday school teacher and she uses it."
  • "Thank you for your journal and its thoughtful articles. May I request 12 copies of the issue in 1987 that dealt with the subject of eternal hell? I would like to use it as a study document at our pastors' conference."
  • "Ministry is the best periodical on the pastorate I have been reading. Having just been appointed to the principalship of a Bible college, I am grateful to have it."

A worthy project

Ministry is also one of the best bar gains in the church. $2.00 (overseas, $5.40 [includes extra postage]) pays for one subscription (six issues) for an entire year.

Yet some conferences that have only 600 subscriptions in their territory still cannot afford to pay $1,200. I believe that there are churches and individuals who would be willing to sponsor PREACH subscriptions in their area. We will be happy to provide a printout of all the names in a particular region.

If you would like to be a partner with us in sending Ministry to these subscribers and even expanding the list, please send your checks made out to Ministry PREACH to me at 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904. All donations are tax deductible. You may also want to sponsor overseas subscriptions.

PREACH need not die. It will be much stronger if it is supported at the local level. We do not want to push a program that the church does not want. If you believe that this program is still important, please let us know.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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J. David Newman is the former editor of Ministry

February 1992

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