This issue featuring older adults happens to come out the very month that I’m reaching 35 years of employment with the Church of the Brethren. Oh, the irony! The years zip by faster than one expects.
For a number of years I was the youngest staff person, and then one year I wasn’t. I had headed to Elgin, Ill., to do a year of Brethren Volunteer Service, got hired, and have been here ever since. That wasn’t my long-range plan, but it still feels like a calling and a privilege.
Early on, at an interchurch magazine conference during my first year or so on the job, a middle-aged male editor looked at me across the table where a group of us were eating lunch and asked, “So, what’s a nice girl like you doing in church journalism?” There were so many disturbing parts to his question that it was days before I could think of a comeback.
Perhaps he meant that anyone involved in church journalism shouldn’t be too refined or proper. Maybe he meant that you ought to be a certain age—that is, older than I looked—to qualify for a press card. Surely he didn’t mean that females are less suitable than males for the rough and tumble of church stuff. (Actually, I think he did mean that.)
I would be most sorry if he was saying that telling the story of the church—his life’s work—was so sordid that he needed to warn me away. That’s the way it sounded, though.
Nowadays I spend more of my time overseeing the publishing of books and curriculum, but as publisher of both Brethren Press andCommunications I continue to be happily involved in church journalism. I’m glad to say that it still strikes me as a profession that females (with or without nice white gloves) need not avoid.
Though there can be vexing moments (and sometimes vexing people, to be honest), this business of publishing is the work of the gospel—at least that’s what the Bible says. I especially love the verse that (blending the NRSV and RSV to get all the right words) mentions Messenger: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who publishes peace, who brings good news, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).
Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Communications for the Church of the Brethren.