Memories have been flooding back to mind this week. In my June 1991 column for Kansas City Christian (now Metro Voice), I wrote this about the support of the community for a Christian newspaper:
“Now that I have become the editor and publisher of the KCC, it is my sincerest prayer and deepest hope that I will continue to find that renewed commitment in the Christian community to seeing this paper grow and prosper. That commitment is expressed in three ways…”
I went on to ask that:
1) People would pray for God’s guidance and his blessings;
2) People support the paper financially through subscriptions and distribution at churches; and
3) People would shop at the businesses that support the paper through their advertising.
In the months following, I asked for the prayers of the readers we served. Now, almost 30 years later, as the paper ends its print run and transitions into a weekly – even daily – online newspaper, each of those things is still important for continued success.
Many things have changed since 1990 when the paper first launched, but many things have not. Looking at the first issue I edited, I noticed the following headlines: “Judge rules that life begins at conception”; “Hoaxes find millions of takers in Christians”; “Libya: country of oppression and fear”; “Church of Scientology accused of blackmailing actor”; and “Mounting world needs causing compassion fatigue”.
While many of the issues could easily be headlines today, one thing certainly has not changed — our gratitude to you, our reader, for making this newspaper possible through your support expressed in the areas above.
Preparing for this issue required diving into old boxes filled with black-and-white photos, dusty copies of the paper and old scrapbooks. Seeing the names of the many, many people who have served us in some capacity brought a ground swell of emotion. It was an emotional time for us already, because my 92-year-old mom had just passed away the previous week. Looking back brought many smiles to our faces, thinking of the wonderful people we have been blessed to work with.
Ruthellen Norman not only helped with my delivery in the early years but also gave me a light oak Danish desk in 1991 that I still use as my desk today.
Bob Baldwin lent me the use of his computers and printer in my first year because I could not afford them on my own. I worked from his Lakewood Business Park office in the evenings and would often leave as people were arriving to work the next morning.
Oran Hopkins, owner of D&O Distributing, donated all the postage and handling for subscriptions in the 90s. I enjoyed visiting his office in the caves.
We had many faithful volunteer delivery drivers. Ron and Veronica Frierdich delivered Johnson County, Kan., for 15 years. Bertha Sievers, in addition to editing our calendar in the early years, also delivered to churches and businesses north of the river. She was followed by the Chapman family and now, the VanDynes.
Delivering the papers to churches, ministries and businesses was one of the most crucial duties. Throughout the years, both Anita and I have kept our own routes. It allowed us to stay in touch and see how the paper was perceived and being used. We will miss the many church secretaries and pastors whom have become friends during our brief monthly encounters.
Of course, you cannot have a newspaper without good articles! In the early years, our core group included Christopher T. Murphy, Gary and Connie Blunt and others. Of the five editors we’ve had since 1991, four have been women and two of those minorities. We were way ahead of the secular media in terms of equality.
Alan Goforth has faithfully written and proofread the last 10 years. I first met Alan after our daughters became friends in kindergarten.
Joe and Stephanie Booth have designed the layout for over a decade. Giving up a weekend each month, they made sure the paper was colorful and easy to read. I never did switch over to InDesign from Quark. Sorry, Joe.
And then there are our friends who have shared our frustrations, hopes and fears and always joined us in prayer over the years. Penny and Steve Sage, the late Rita North, Paul and Karen Miller, Bill and Elaine Mayor, Kent and Pam Anderson, Amy Fox, Jim and Katie Myers, Don and Cindy Hilker, Tom and Cindy Jones, Jim and Lisa Seley and many others.
Lastly, we want to thank our two daughters Hannah and Emma. They have never known any life other than mom and dad on “press week”. I remember them cuddled into sleeping bags in the hallway of our Lee’s Summit offices when they were little and we were pulling all-nighters.
They would also accompany us on our delivery routes.
One special memory is having Emma along with me when she was just 5 or 6 years old. We had picked up our donated monthly delivery van at City Rent-a-Truck off the Plaza and were driving down 47th Street. The topic of grandpas came up and she asked why she didn’t have them. I explained that both her grandpas had died and gone to Heaven long before she was born. She said she wanted to go to heaven someday and see them and I explained that was possible if you knew Jesus.
As we drove, I was blessed to share the salvation message with her. Sitting in her booster seat, she listened intently. Nearing UMKC, I pulled over to a side street and stopped.
“Do you understand?” I asked. She eagerly shook her head yes.
Emma and I prayed the sinner’s prayer and she accepted Christ as her personal savior.
In the summer of 2015, Anita and I had the great opportunity to take our daughters to Israel. What they both experienced touched their hearts deeply. Returning to college that fall, Hannah witnessed anti-Semitism on campus. Because of her experience in Israel, and having met and spent time with Israeli Jews, she was able to connect her heart AND her mind and was ready with a response when bigotry reared its ugly head on her campus.
Would both of those instances with our daughters have happened eventually without having grown up in a Christian newspaper family? Possibly. But we do know that there are experiences derived specifically in instances created by us publishing the newspaper.
For that we are blessed.
Here are just some of the many people who have made it possible
Virgil and Virginia Brundage
Ron & Mickey Frierdich
Elizabeth Hooper & Family
Tiffany Chapman & Family
Loren & Judy Vandyne
Valerie & Larry Algers
Dean and Francis Masters
Reporters & Contributors
Christopher T. Murphy
Gary and Connie Blunt
Margaret Berlin Hastings
Judith Anne Hatfield
Jack and Katy Heyl
Jeanette Gardner Littleton
Jim and Katie Myers
Oran Hopkins, D&O Distributing
Paul Bailey Computer Repair
Roger Michelson, CPA
Joe and Stephanie Boothe
Hannah (Widaman) Potter
Friends and family for volunteering at events and prayer:
Steve and Penny Sage
Bill and Elaine Mayor
Paul and Karen Miller & family
Don and Cindy Hilker
Amy Fox and Tyler
Dan, April & Brennon Casey
Henry Thomas Imler
Jim and Sharon Moore
Jim and Lisa Seley & family
Kent and Pam Anderson & Family