Archbishop of York praises church magazines

Stephen Cottrell(Photo: Lambeth Palace)

I love church magazines! It's one of the first things I look for if I find myself in a new church. And – despite a massive move to digital communications – it seems I'm not the only one.

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell has praised the work of church magazine editors in a special message. He said: "Well-produced magazines can play a vital role in helping churches reach out into their local communities, and to bring the Christian gospel into many people's homes.

"Even in a digital world, paper-based communications can help build bridges for local churches."

Archbishop Cottrell – the second most senior bishop in the Church of England – was speaking as Parish Pump, a service providing editors with news, features, illustrations and puzzles, celebrates its 25th anniversary.

He explained: "I'm deeply appreciative of the effort put in by numerous church magazine editors, and of the important, creative support that Parish Pump has provided over the past 25 years. I congratulate its editor, Anne Coomes, on her commitment to first-class communications through those years."

Parish Pump has supplied up to 3,000 publications of all denominations each month since its launch at the Christian Resources Exhibition in May 1999. The online resource regularly reaches many tens of thousands of readers in the UK and overseas.

Journalist Anne Coomes has edited the subscription service throughout the quarter century from her home near Macclesfield, Cheshire in northern England.

She said: "These magazines may be the only Christian literature that many people ever see, and so they are a wonderful way in which local churches can communicate the gospel to their communities."

The increase in online communications and the difficulty in recruiting editors has led many churches to stop producing a printed magazine. The number of Parish Pump's subscribers now stands at nearly 1,400.

Anne said: "Each month, I receive news of magazines closing down – but also of new ones opening up. Overall, the trend is downwards, and that's a shame as not everyone is able to go online. Magazines can reach people who would never search out a church website.

"The suspension of printed magazines during Covid was very difficult for many churches and editors. Many began posting their magazine online and that trend has continued."

Coomes estimates that she has served a generation of churchgoers during her 25 years editing Parish Pump. At its peak, she estimates that around 600,000 people were being reached by material from her service each month.

She added: "Church magazine editors are often the least-resourced people in local ministry. There is plenty of help for youth ministry for example, but very little for anyone producing a magazine. I am so glad that we could help fill that gap.

"Our vision has always been to make the riches of the national church and its writers easily available to hard-pressed church magazine editors."

Anne, who co-founded and owns Parish Pump, intends to celebrate the Silver Anniversary with friends and contributors.

Rev Peter Crumpler is a Church of England minister in St Albans, Herts, UK, and a former communications director with the CofE.