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Reform Magazine | October 17, 2017

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Editorial: Nice to be appreciated

steve_tomkinsIn November, I went to the Mission Council of the United Reformed Church. It was supposed to be debating the future of this magazine. The URC publishes Reform and subsidises it, and that commitment was due a review.

After all, Reform has become more expensive to fund over many years, as – in common with other Christian publications – circulation has declined, while the URC’s finances – in common with other Christian denominations – have become ever more thinly stretched. The argument for spending that money on something more worthwhile than a magazine, as other denominations have decided to do, was strong.

So I went to Mission Council prepared to give rousing speeches and make compelling arguments because I believe in Reform and the ability its writers have to challenge, inspire and change not just individual readers but their communities. As it was, I didn’t get the chance.

I said they were supposed to be debating, but, as it turned out, the whole conversation was a celebration of Reform. Speakers praised its quality, its breadth, its contribution to local church life, its propensity to get people talking and its ability to engage people both across the URC and in other denominations.

It was thrilling to have such an affirmation of the work we’ve done over the last two years
to make the magazine better than ever and a greater contribution to the mission of the Church. But it also presented a formidable challenge. Mission Council’s endorsement was not an invitation to simply keep going. Subscriptions to Reform have declined steeply every year as far back as my records go, and, on that trajectory, it is unsustainable. So Mission Council’s endorsement was a declaration of trust that we can change the fortunes of the magazine.

I share that belief. There have been a lot of changes in the magazine over the last two years, but what we are now working on may be the biggest of all: We intend to make Reform sustainable. It is a huge job, taking a great deal of time and effort, but my hope is that the coming year will see the number of subscriptions rise instead of fall for the first time.

So I’m very much hoping you can help us in this. Maybe you can help us get new subscribers. If you’d like to give someone a subscription as a Christmas gift, there’s a form on page 43. If a friend would like to see a sample issue for free before subscribing, just give us their name and address, and we can send one. Or maybe you can let people know that this magazine is around, and worth buying. That will help us keep it that way.

We are working very hard to put Reform on a sound footing, so we can take it from strength to strength. But we need the help of those who value the magazine. We’re a small team but you’re a rather bigger one. If you can put in a good word for us, I think they’ll listen to you. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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This article was published in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of  Reform.

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