How much do you really know about the
magazine you’re reading? By Bill Fledderus
faith Today magazine is turning 30 this year, and just like all of us who have reached our third decade, it brings with it a lot of great memories to reflect on and a great deal of potential ahead.
Later this year we’ll select and share 30 great
articles from the past using our Facebook page
and website. But let’s kick off the anniversary
now with a summary of what’s been going on.
In the beginning: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada was founded in Toronto in 1964
by an interdenominational group of Ontario
pastors. In 1967 co-founder Harry Faught, pastor at Danforth Gospel Temple, crossed Canada
with American theologian Carl F. H. Henry,
holding meetings from Vancouver to Halifax
and inviting individuals to join. Over the next
two decades the EFC started commissions to
study various issues, published a quarterly
magazine called Thrust, sponsored preaching
seminars and encouraged co-operation among
evangelical denominations and individuals
from mainline churches.
Brian Stiller, a Pentecostal pastor who served
as national director of Youth for Christ, became
the first executive director of the EFC in 1983
and quickly transformed the organization,
building its individual membership to 17,000
and expanding its budget. Stiller was named
editor-in-chief, and he would oversee the magazine until leaving the EFC in 1996 – 1997.
“There were a number of denominational
magazines, but they seemed dowdy,” Stiller
wrote in the 10th anniversary issue. “There
were no newspapers such as B.C.’s Christian
Info News or Christian Week. We settled on a
concept of a Canadian magazine, unabashedly
by and for evangelicals, not a journal such as
Christianity Today or a Christian-living magazine like Moody, but a news/feature publication.
“We used as a working phrase, ‘Tracking the
footprints of God.’ By looking across the nation
and writing about the many ways in which God
was using his people – by seeing his tracks – we
could gain perspective on God’s agenda.
“Another part of our vision was to present
an attractive and readable publication. Would
a person pick up our magazine if it were sitting
next to Maclean’s or Time?”
1983: Faith Alive debuted as a quarterly that
summer, with a cover headline about leadership
and a photo from the 1982 movie Gandhi. The
next two issues featured cover stories on abortion and then on Billy Graham. Editor for the
first three years was Lori (Mitchener) Gwynne,
recruited by Stiller from Trinity Western University where she had been director of publications. The preferred name, Faith Today, did not
become available for legal reasons until 1986.
Cover stories tackled post-secondary
education, homosexuality, sports and marriage.
All would be addressed again on the covers of
future issues, showing how important they
were to readers and how a magazine delivers
information, including corrections and alternative points of view, over a span of time rather
than claiming to offer a final word on any given
topic in a single issue. The magazine co-spon-sored its first conference for writers at Ontario
1985: Trends among Evangelicals, charitable
giving, media and youth were the cover headlines. Audrey Dorsch was hired as an editorial
assistant and, when Gwynne left late the following year, became managing editor. She had
worked in newspapers in Western Canada and
also founded Word Alive, the Canadian periodical of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
1986: Dorsch became editor, serving until
1995 and increasing the publication frequency
to six issues per year. Her role in building a
sturdy foundation for later editors, especially