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In the beginning.

The door opened to reveal two bare rooms with a telephone on the floor and I was informed that, actually, there was no budget but it was approved that I could go $60,000 in the hole in the first year. Such was my welcome to Church House when I became editor and general manager of the Canadian Churchman (now the Anglican Journal) in 1958, with a mandate to work out a new distribution system and to introduce a new editorial approach.

Staff was recruited from among clergy who had journalistic backgrounds--Rev. M.A. Stephens and Rev. Bill Portman--or interests in publishing, like Rev. HAL Rokeby-Thomas. A young layman, Bruce Rathbone, became the business manager. We were off and running. The circulation began to build as we worked out a plan of integration with diocesan papers across Canada and advertising revenues grew accordingly.

As we introduced special interest columns I can never forget the encouraging response I received from professional lay journalists such as Michael Barkway, Maurice Western, Robert Redford, Arnold Edinborough and others who cheerfully wrote for much less than the going rate, sensing the vision to produce a paper to engage the attention of Anglicans generally and not just the clergy. It was in line with this goal that a most daring policy had been endorsed--that the paper would be the church's official publication but with an independent editorial policy. This was certainly venturing into uncharted waters.

The policy of "editorial independence" was not universally welcomed. Bishops and others thought that it was fine so long as views expressed agreed with theirs, but had a rather contrary view if they didn't measure up to their expectations. It was a policy that needed constantly to be defended before synods and committees as has been the case ever since.

Editor's Note:

Earlier this year, to mark its 130th anniversary, the Anglican Journal invited readers to share their memories of the paper. This issue, we end, in a way, where we began, with Canon Gordon Baker. As editor from 1958 to 1967, be oversaw wholesale changes in the newspaper, including an increase in circulation to 300,000 from 7,000. More readers' comments and memories may be found at
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Title Annotation:CELEBRATING 130 years OF EXCELLENCE
Author:Baker, Canon A. Gordon
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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