The Witness magazine, which has reflected a substantial history of Christian involvement in peace and justice issues dating back to its inception in 1917, is ceasing publication, the Episcopal Church Publishing Company (ECPC) board decided at its recent meeting in Washington DC, USA.
The board concluded that resources were not available to continue with the online version of The Witness. The print version was discontinued in 2003. ECPC says it will continue in other ways, however, to "serve those who give voice to the demands that justice makes upon the churches."
Another widely-respected US radical Christian magazine, The Other Side, folded in 2005. But Sojourners has gained in popularity and strength, and has been joined by other ventures such as Faithful America online and the Cross Left network.
A commentator told Ekklesia: "To see The Witness go is undoubtedly very sad, but it doesn't mean that there is a general decline in peace and justice oriented Christian publications. On the contrary, there are many new voices from this sector coming onstream - such as yourselves since 2002 - and it's more that the plurality of new media has changed the ecology of publishing. That is what this development seems to be about."
Newly elected president of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company board, the Very Rev Tracey Lind of Ohio, explained: "We celebrated our long history as a voice for peace and justice concerns in the church, while bowing to the inevitable conclusion that we didn't have sufficient funds to continue."
Lind said that the board discussed and endorsed the possibility that it could use the remaining funds to pull together some of the most outstanding examples of the publication's prophetic witness over many generations.
"Future generations must know what a crucial role The Witness played in speaking the truth to power and championing justice for all. We are a different church because of that ministry." Lind also pointed out that the ECPC itself continues as a corporate entity, "ready to lend its voice to future debate in the church over justice issues. It may even be open to the possibilities for publications in the future."
The Witness built a reputation of excellence over the years, receiving many awards from colleagues in the Associated Church Press and Episcopal Communicators.
The published materials of The Witness, in print and online, will soon become a part of the permanent collection of the Archives of the Episcopal Church, available at http://www.episcopalarchives.org/