The oldest surviving copy of The Dominion Churchman-now called the Anglican Journal-dates back to Aug. 22, 1878. Holding the fragile, brittle, yellowed and frayed 16-page newspaper, it’s difficult not to feel awed by the weight of the Journal’s 139-year history and to feel a palpable sense of duty arising from the trust the church and its faithful have gifted it.
The passage of time has, of course, meant that along with the rest of the world, the Journal has gone through momentous transformations since its birth in 1875. In its early years, the front page was dominated by ads offering the services of barristers, architects, homeopathic pharmacists and a French remedy for nervousness. That all changed in the mid-19th century, when news and features finally claimed their rightful place on page one. The newspaper hired its first lay editor and professional journalist in 1968. In 1977, it enshrined the principle of editorial independence in its charter, stating that while it was the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada, it was not the official voice of the church.
The tides of change have strengthened the core values and mission of the Journal. The newspaper exists to freely inform, edify, motivate and challenge Anglicans and to help them be engaged participants in the life of the church, in their communities and the rest of the world.
It has been said that the Journal-which, along with the diocesan newspapers, goes directly into the homes of 141,000 Canadian Anglicans-is a glue that helps hold the people of the church together. On some level, it is a permanent residence of the collective memory of Canadian Anglicans. It provides a forum for a discerning audience to express their ideas and opinions, and therefore remains the best vehicle for gauging the pulse of Anglicans from coast to coast. Throughout the Anglican Communion, it symbolizes the diversity and transparency of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Journal has many ardent supporters, but like any newspaper worth its salt, it also has its share of vociferous detractors. Love it or hate it, the very fact that the Journal moves Anglicans in extremely diverse ways means that it is a newspaper that is loudly alive and it is truly yours.
As the editorship of the Journal changes hands, the inevitable question is whether it will undergo yet another metamorphosis. The answer is yes and no. Change can be unsettling, but it can also mean endless possibilities for growth and renewal.
Our immediate goal is to provide readers with more thought-provoking stories that will be told in new ways. In today’s networked age, we will enhance our website and explore ways to serve you better, even as we strengthen our print publication. We will go beyond reportage on church governance and events, and tackle big questions about faith, ethics, religion, spiritual and social issues and, yes, everyday living. Even with a small staff and limited budget, we will strive to be where you are-on the ground and on the road-to gather stories that offer encouragement and hope, provoke deep and meaningful discussions and inspire positive change.
In short, we will look deeply at issues and concerns that impact you right here, right now.
What will not change is our abiding commitment to you and the free, robust exchange of information and ideas that are central to the living out of Christian faith and community. It is what we owe you who generously support us year after year and our audacious predecessors.
* * *
“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.“-Martin Luther
In the coming months, we will launch new sections in the Journal and on our website,
anglicanjournal.com, which will rely heavily on contributions from our readers. We hope that we can count on you to kick down our doors and share your voices.
And, as always, letters to the editor are welcome.