In April 1976, Buzz asked: ‘Does the Church care about unemployment?’ For the 2015 answer to this question, please see our feature ‘The Social Action Revolution’.
If coverage in our magazine is anything to go by, homosexuality is one of the most debated topics in recent Church history. The first issue of Alpha (February 1991) published a feature entitled, ‘Sad to be gay?’ In 2013 we interviewed three church leaders who went public about their same sex attraction but have chosen to remain celibate.
Debates over women in leadership have continued for decades. In 1991, Archbishop George Carey said those who claim only a man can represent Christ at the altar are guilty of ‘a most serious heresy’. The March 2010 cover story examined the ‘stained-glass ceiling’ for women in Christian leadership.
The history of Spring Harvest is intertwined with our own history. Both the magazine and the festival have enjoyed an unbroken run for decades. In the early 90s, Alpha magazine described Spring Harvest as ‘the world’s largest annual inter-church event’ (it attracted 80,000 people). Greenbelt, and in more recent years, Soul Survivor, were also given plenty of coverage in back issues.
The EU in/out referendum is due to take place next year. But the June 1995 edition of Alpha demonstrates this debate is far from old. ‘Europhobia in the pews?’ was the headline of a column by James Catford, who argued that ‘closer integration has its advantages for the Gospel’.
The ‘Christian vote’ never goes away. The cover of the May 1987 and May 2015 issues are remarkably similar Should we keep Sunday special? In June 1974, Buzz reflected on the emergence of Sunday football. ‘It looks as if Sunday’s destined to become more and more secularised’, wrote John Allan. Forty years on, Sunday trading is still under debate.
The subject of abortion has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been dealt with by the magazine over the years. The July 1979 cover showed a hand dripping with blood. It was criticised by some readers for being far too graphic.
Predictions…Whether it be prophecy or just guesswork, plenty of predictions about the future have been made in the pages of the magazine. In January 1990, our ‘Toward 2000’ article predicted that the next decade would lead to (among other things) vegetarianism becoming the norm, working laboratories in space and democracy in China.