Long Time Gone

I am a product of the Seventh-day Adventist publishing system. For more than 100 years, Adventists have shared their distinctive beliefs and messages through written books and magazines that are published in printing presses around the world and distributed in Adventist Book Centers as well as door to door. My first book, 52 Things to Do On Sabbath, was published in 1983 by Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland. My first stories were published by Insight and Guide magazines, also at Review and Herald. I spent five years as a newspaper editor for the Adventist Church and another ten as a book and magazine editor for the other Adventist publishing house in North America, Pacific Press Publishing Association.

When I left Pacific Press in 1998, it was without any malice or bad feelings. I had an opportunity to teach (at an Adventist university, of course), and I took it.

Today a friend of mine shared on Facebook the news that both publishing houses are going through major restructuring. Review and Herald will no longer print or publish, really, but their editors of their publications will be housed in the world headquarters of the Church located in Silver Spring, Maryland. In essence, the publishing house that we knew for more than a century will cease to exist.

There have been rumblings of mergers and others tales of doom and gloom for a long time, but this is the first time that official word has come down that the institution is, in essence, no more. And yet, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

They say that when God closes a door, He opens a window. And from my own personal experience, I know that sometimes He pushes you out that window. I lost a job in 1982 and was forced to go back to school for my master’s. It turned out the be one of the turning points in my life. And so I learned that yes, good things can come from bad experiences.

I feel bad for all the people who are out of work now. But I am also aware that the talent that those people have has not disappeared. Those people still have truth to share, stories to tell, and images that will draw others closer to God.

And self-publishing is easier than ever.

Yes, an institution with over a century of service is gone. But that just means that the people who were harnessed into saying everything the same way to the same people are free to explore other possibilities and speak to other audiences.

It’s like what happened to journalism. Journalism isn’t dead; it has just changed–by necessity. People will always need news. It’s those who have learned to adapt and use today’s technology that will find a way to survive and even thrive in today’s media.

The same can be said for Adventist publishing. It isn’t dead. I predict a new renaissance as individuals will speak out in multifaceted ways and totally unique places. And more people than ever will hear what they have to say.