Messenger, The (Periodical)
The Messenger is the English-language periodical founded in 1963 by the Evangelical Mennonite Conference with headquarters in Steinbach, Manitoba. Throughout its history, it has been within the Conference a central source of information and instruction, a builder of conference connections, and the occasional cause of controversy.
The Christlicher Familienfreund (The Christian’s Family Friend) was a German-language periodical that ran from 1935–1984. In 1957 it began to carry an English section called the "Christian Family Circle" with Abe Unger as editor and David K. "D. K." Schellenberg as the assistant editor.
In 1962 a resolution was presented to the EMC's ministerial to separate the English and German portions and to make two publications. After discussion at subsequent ministerial meetings, it was decided in December 1962 that "the editors together with the newly created Board of Christian Education and Publications [would] work together on the project."
The Messenger began as an eight-page magazine published at least twice-monthly. Its first issue was dated 11 January 1963, with Dave K. Schellenberg serving as editor and Abe Unger as assistant editor.
The inaugural issue gave these reasons for the English-language publication: use of English was increasing while use of German was decreasing; and there was a "missionary vision" to gain many non-German readers.
The scope of The Messenger was "to inform, to instruct, and to inspire." Under inform was local church news, mission work "at home and abroad," and coming events. By instruction, it sought to supplement the church’s teaching ministry, reach a larger audience, and result in the salvation of souls. To inspire, it sought to "include that which will spur us on to our best for Jesus Christ."
A pastor in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Schellenberg travelled regularly to Steinbach to prepare the magazine. Later he served as executive secretary and editor with the EMC's Board of Education and Publication (later renamed and reformed as the Board of Church Ministries).
Schellenberg served as editor from 1963 to 1987. After retirement, he contributed two columns, Pages from the Past (focused on history) and By the Way (reflective on a range of topics); served as the local church reporter for Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Church; and occasionally contributed an editorial or feature article.
During his tenure the magazine was published at least twice monthly; as late as 1987 its length varied from 12 to 20 pages.
Menno Hamm, a graduate of Steinbach Bible Institute (now College) and the University of Manitoba, a schoolteacher and an ordained minister, served as executive secretary and editor from 1988 to 1997. He was a devoted churchman, travelled widely in Canada to provide local church profiles, and wrote editorials to promote conference unity. During this period The Messenger’s length was stabilized at 20 and 16 pages, respectively, for two issues for ten months, with July and August having a single issue each of 24 pages. To save costs, it was reduced to 22 issues per year.
Terry M. Smith began as editor in July 1997. He was a graduate of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (in journalism), Steinbach Bible College, and Mennonite Brethren Bible College. Smith had joined the EMC in 1979, served as a pastor, and been ordained as a minister. He had mostly British cultural roots and a background in mainline and evangelical church circles. He sought to assist the EMC to become more culturally and intellectually comfortable for people entering it. He sought to appreciate and dialogue with Anabaptist history and theology from within his perspective as a child of the wider Christian Church.
Martha Kroeker, who had previously trained as a teacher and served in Mexico as a missionary, was editorial assistant from 1977 to 2000. Her special skills were in copyediting and proofreading.
In April 2000 Rebecca Buhler (later Rebecca Roman), a Steinbach Bible College graduate, became editorial assistant. In January 2001 the board approved the position’s title being changed to assistant editor to reflect Smith’s concern for more teamwork in decision-making. Roman was both the first woman and unordained person to occupy an editorship in the magazine’s history.
Roman offered to design the cover of 18 August 2004 issue and entirely designed the 8 September 2004 issue. After that, till her leave in March 2013, she designed the magazine under Smith’s oversight. In a term position, Andrew Walker began to design the magazine in April 2013.
With the EMC facing a financial shortfall in 2010, it was proposed that the magazine become a monthly, change paper stocks, and use more color. In March 2010 The Messenger published a 16-page issue to both save costs and try a new format. The board approved the shift to a monthly 36-page in the new format. In 2011 the magazine went full color. Bound sets are held at the EMC's national archives. Indexes were included in the final issue of each year from 1963 to 2011. A manuscript index is available for later years.
Hamm, Menno. "The Messenger’s 30th Anniversary 1963–1992." The Messenger 31, no. 1 (8 January 1993): 2–3.
Hamm, Menno. Come See What God Has Done: The Jubilee Celebration of Evangelical Mennonite Conference Missions 1953–2003. Steinbach, MB: Evangelical Mennonite Conference, 2003, back cover.
Hamm, Menno. "Periodical Publishing in the Evangelical Mennonite Conference." The Messenger 31, no. 1 (8 January 1993): 3, 16.
[Schellenberg, Dave K.,] "The Messenger." The Messenger 1, no. 1 (11 January 1963): 2.
[Schellenberg, Dave K.,] "Important Notice." The Messenger 1, no. 1 (11 January 1963): 2.
[Schellenberg, Dave K.,] "The Messenger, a new English language paper for the Evangelical Mennonite Conference." The Messenger 1, no. 1 (11 January 1963): 2, 7.
Klassen, Henry. "Editorial Assistant Appointed." The Messenger 38, no. 9 (3 May 2000): 10.
"Messenger Editor Appointed." The Messenger 35, no. 5 (12 March 1997): 5.
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