John Buckeridge bows out as editor

Editing Christianity magazine has been such a brilliant task so it is with mixed feelings that I write to let you know this is my last issue.

For some time now I have worn two hats, the second role being editorial director. This includes managing the overall business, reporting to two boards and overseeing a staff of 15 who publish four magazines and multiple websites. This will be my focus for the immediate future. Ruth Dickinson, who joined Christianity magazine as deputy editor in 2007, has been gradually taking on more and more of the editor role and has a tremendous range of skills. So I’m confident she will be both capable and successful as the new editor. I hope you will give her all of the encouragement and feedback you have kindly offered me over the years…

And it has been years! Having joined in 1989 as a deputy editor on 21st Century Christian magazine (which was formerly called Buzz), I then became the founding editor of Youthwork magazine in 1991, and then editor of Christianity Renewal at the start of the new millennium in January 2000, which evolved into Christianity magazine.

The last decade has been challenging as the Christian publishing scene has changed in many ways. Throughout, the strapline; ‘Real life, real faith, in the real world’ has remained and encapsulates the ongoing hope that Christianity magazine will build faith and equip believers through fair and accurate reporting rather than repeating exaggerated claims or wishful thinking. I have met and interviewed some inspiring Christian men and women and been privileged to see God at work, changed lives and growing churches.

The magazine has also taken some risks. Some told me publishing an agony aunt column on sex and relationships from a Christian perspective was risky and I did lose a few readers who were offended by Maggie Ellis’ frank approach. Obviously I have made some mistakes (although commissioning ‘Dear Maggie’ was not one of them), but you have been incredibly loyal – renewal rates remain around 80%, which is rare among paid-for magazines.

I am deeply grateful to the wise insights, ideas and encouragement of the consulting editors. A big thanks is also due to my editorial, advertising, design, and back office colleagues, as well as to past and present boards of both Premier and Spring Harvest-Memralife. I’ve enjoyed so many aspects of the job, none more than working with the really talented group of freelance contributors. Particular thanks are due to long-standing columnists Steve Chalke and Jeff Lucas. Space doesn’t allow me to list every name that deserves thanks.

I have always wanted Christianity magazine to identify, encourage and nurture new writing talent and I am delighted that Ruth shares this passion. She has already unearthed some brilliant new writers, photographers and illustrators.

Looking forward, there are some exciting new features that Ruth has been developing for 2011, including a new series from David Instone-Brewer who wrote the popular ‘New Testament Scandals’ series, which we published until last summer. Ruth will also oversee a refreshment of the design in the year ahead.

As for the cover story of this issue of the magazine, I haven’t seen an angel, so far, but in the past three years I have spoken to two children that attend my church who have. The impact on them has been significant. Their vivid description of encountering an angel was entirely believable and left me eager to publish something of what scripture says about angels alongside contemporary stories of recent angelic encounters. As we enter Advent and hear again the story of Gabriel’s visit to Mary, I sincerely hope that we will all be open to everything that God wants for us in whatever season of our life we are in – including change, risk and new things.