by Lisa McIntosh
This year your magazine, The Lutheran, celebrates 50 years of service to our church.
Everyone who is blessed with five decades on this earth has changed dramatically since their birth (at least physically, even if inside we feel virtually the same at 48 as we did at 18). And The Lutheran is no different. It is almost unrecognisable today from the very first issue published on 21 January 1967 under the interim joint editorship of Pastor T W Koch and Dr M Lohe.
However, casting a discerning eye over a full 50 years of the masthead also shows what has never swayed – The Lutheran’s commitment to serve and build up the church.
When the first full-time editor, Pastor E W Wiebusch, took charge in April 1967, he explained the scope of the publication in his first editorial: ‘THE LUTHERAN should be a teaching agency of the Church’.
The Lutheran started life as the ‘official organ’ of the fledgling LCA, a term never clearly defined. As then editor, now executive editor and LCA Communications manager Linda Macqueen wrote on the occasion of The Lutheran’s 40th birthday: ‘In 1967 the burden of being “the organ” of the LCA seemed to weigh heavily on The Lutheran’s shoulders. It was formal, unsmiling and austere. Later it became the church’s “official publication” and then in September 2001, without anyone noticing, it became the LCA’s “national magazine”.’
While some critics would see this transition as a gradual ‘watering down’ of the role of the magazine, others believe it has taken the shackles off, opening The Lutheran up to the voices of the whole church, rather than just its leaders and other pastors. It has allowed us also to exercise our God-given sense of humour.
The fact The Lutheran’s looks and content have been regularly altered across its life is nothing unusual in comparison with mainstream publications. In this case it perhaps reflects mostly the shift in its prescribed function, the diverse styles of those at the helm, the resources and production technology available and the changing face of the church it strives to serve.