2023 marks 80 years of the Presbyterian Herald. It is a momentous landmark for us to look back and reflect on; not only on the magazine itself, but also on the social history contained within it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed trailing through the pages of our back copies to find out how the denomination responded to significant events, both inside and outside of the Church. We have picked out extracts from a selection of articles to offer a flavour of each decade. Two former editors also reflect on their experiences in the role, Rev Robert Cobain and Stephen Lynas, both former press officers as well as Herald editors.
In 1943, the establishment of the Presbyterian Herald was the amalgamation of two magazines: the Missionary Herald (denominational); and the Irish Presbyterian (independent). Therefore, at its core, the Herald has always had the dual function of being a magazine that champions the work of PCI; but also maintains an element of independence, allowing Presbyterians to take a critical, yet constructive, look at the denomination.
During the time that Stephen Lynas was editor, the strapline ‘Giving a voice to Presbyterians in Ireland’ was printed on the front cover. He says, “Looking back, I was probably disappointed by the response.” Although the strapline is no longer printed, this ethos very much remains at the heart of the magazine. As we move into a new year, I should like to invite Presbyterians to engage more with the content. Please get in touch if you would like to share a letter; a story of faith; a photo; a review; or to tell us about something your church is doing.
Another milestone, which is a much sadder one to mark, is the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine. In this edition we hear from three congregations (although I’m sure there are many more!) who have sacrificially reached out to Ukrainian refugees in their local communities, meeting practical needs and sharing the good news of Jesus. Moderator, Dr John Kirkpatrick also reports on his trip to Hungary and western Ukraine, where he saw first-hand how PCI donations are being spent. These accounts from churches and Dr Kirkpatrick extol the blessings in giving, as well as the learning and love that has been received in return.
In the first edition of the Herald in 1943, the editorial comment said of the magazine, “To many of us it will be – cannot but be – the mirror, index, and most typical representative of the brave Presbyterian Church in Ireland…” May PCI continue to be brave and may the Herald continue to reflect and encourage its work and witness for the Lord.
The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.
To find out more go to www.presbyterianireland.org/herald or access the digital version via Issuu.