Adventist Record Turns 125

In the South Pacific Division, many things have changed but mission has not, current editor says.

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review
<strong><em>Adventist Record</em> Turns 125</strong>
Adventist Record, the official magazine of the South Pacific Division, is turning 125 years old in 2023. [Image: Adventist Record]

Artificial intelligence (AI) can now write an article based on a style and topic of your choosing that is almost undetectable. The ramifications for this kind of technology are huge. 

We’ve seen much more of our faith go digital and virtual in the past few years, and AI will surely have an impact on the church and on communication. It was tempting to try to figure out the technology to test it out in the aid of this editorial (as an experiment, of course), but I’ll stick with the old-fashioned way for now!

AI is just the latest in a long line of changes we’ve seen and will continue to see in our lifetimes. The world I was born into is a very different world to the one we now inhabit.

You can probably relate. The internet has just turned 40 (January 1, 1983).

However, I didn’t have internet at home until high school, and even then, it was limited, slow, and dial-up. It was also provided by Dad’s work so wasn’t available 24/7 — only when he brought his laptop home. The internet has changed the world, just like AI and virtual reality will continue to change it.

Adventist Record, the magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division, and many other Adventist publications have not been immune to these changes.

The Old Black and White

When I started at Adventist Record, the magazine was a black-and-white, weekly periodical. Since then, we’ve seen Record introduce color, go online, change to a fortnightly publication, relocate to Adventist Media, and become a multiple-platform ministry. Other Adventist publications have gone a similar route.

Reading habits have changed, technology has changed, but people’s need for connection, communication, and community has not. Coming into the workplace, I heard about the death of print. Books, magazines, and newspapers were reportedly on their way out; the writing was on the wall. Ironically, in a way that was perhaps not anticipated 15 years ago, it was commercial television that has almost died and had to reinvent itself. Not to say that there aren’t challenges for print. As I mentioned, reading habits have changed, and even church communications will have to change with the times.

But as Adventist members celebrate Record’s 125th birthday in 2023, it’s worth remembering the contribution the magazine continues to make to the Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division and around the world.

Mission Central

As with other Adventist publications, mission has always been at the center of Record. If you look through old magazines it quickly becomes clear exactly how integral mission is to the Adventist Church in the South Pacific, as told through the stories in the magazine.

This hasn’t changed.

Over time, I’ve learned that Record and other church publications are just a vehicle to serve people. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as the Record editor is that people need connection and community.

Disagreement doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation. It takes maturity and sympathy, but we are all made in God’s image and have been called to love one another. 

I may not always get it right, but in my job as Record editor, I’ve tried to respond to negative correspondence thoughtfully and graciously. I’ve seen the truth in the Proverb, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Thankfully, in the case of Record, not too many people ring or write incensed about something. However, when they do, I’ve found that being compassionate and willing to listen — while not necessarily agreeing — can often bring conciliation.

Our human experience is, in many ways, universal. People respond when they can relate. The articles that gain the most traction have been the ones that reflect on personal experiences. The mission news and stories we share inspire others to make an impact in their own communities. As the Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division, we can be proud of our investment in keeping our very diverse, multi-ethnic church family together and informed.

This year we’re celebrating our Adventist Church in the South Pacific and the impact and input Record has had. This year we’re celebrating our history and the legacy of those we follow in mission in our region. Throughout 2023, we’ll find ways to reflect and enjoy that heritage.

The original version of this commentary was posted by Adventist Record.

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review