In 1974, my father dealt with the grief of losing his mother by writing a family history. The process of writing was a catharsis for him at a time of deep anguish. He dedicated the book to his mother, had it bound and gave each of his sons a copy for Christmas.
I remember getting that volume for Christmas and being entirely unimpressed. I was an eight-year-old, after all, and the last thing I wanted for Christmas was a big fat volume of stories about long lost ancestors and boring relatives!
It’s interesting how time changes our perspective. Here I am all these years later, and now I treasure that book more than any present my father gave me. It tells the stories of triumphs and tragedies that shaped my family. In so doing, it tells a critical part of my story. Now I have an eight-year-old child of my own, I can pass these stories on—though I’ll resist the urge to give her a copy for Christmas, at least for now...
I was in the Division library recently, and came across bound volumes of RECORD from over the years. Curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up a couple of old volumes. As I leafed through the pages, it occurred to me that these volumes tell another part of my family history—my church family history. I saw familiar faces, names, places and events in those pages—some I hadn’t thought of in years, others who are part of my life today. There was a report by David Blanch from the front lines of our work in Papua New Guinea where he was serving as a young man. Another article announced the opening of Camellia Court retirement centre. I stopped on a story about Ernie Steed in the thick of the temperance battle—what a force of nature he was. I came across a feature on Manna, an Adventist singing group from the ‘70s decked out in very groovy attire who, the article reported breathlessly, were about to record an LP. I wonder how many of those LPs still exist? I’d love to hear it—if I could locate a turntable to play it on. All these stories and many, many more, telling our church family story week by week, year by year.
One of the aspects I love about RECORD is that it continues to connect our church family and tell our stories. It announces our happiest occasions and notes our most profound losses, it provides updates and perspective on the Advent cause we care so deeply about, and maybe most importantly, it’s a place we continue to share our common hope. Yes, we now have apps, a website, TV show, a social media presence and RECORD even tweets, but it hasn’t lost that essential ability to connect our church family in a way that no other medium does. And it does all of this better than any other Adventist publication I’ve come across in my years of living in Asia, Europe and the US. RECORD today remains our family story, a family story told with skill, compassion and humour as it unfolds. This week we have a chance to support it and keep our story alive.
James Standish is communication director of the South Pacific Division.