Author, radio host, and pastor Peter W. Marty has been named publisher of the Christian Century.
“I love the vigorous public witness of the Century that is rooted in the church yet broad in its concern for social, political, and cultural issues of our day,” Marty said after the appointment was announced. “Stepping into the publisher’s role at this time in life is a way of bringing together multiple passions of mine.”
Marty is senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, a 3,500-member congregation in Davenport, Iowa. He will continue to lead that congregation while serving as publisher.
The Christian Century, based in Chicago, is the flagship publication of Protestant thought in the United States. With the tagline “thinking critically, living faithfully,” the biweekly journal covers theological, moral, and cultural issues.
“Peter Marty has great respect for the magazine and its history as well as a sound vision for its future,” said Stephen Shorney, vice-president of Hope Publishing, speaking on behalf of the Christian Century’s board of trustees. “He presented an optimistic plan to face the challenges that all print media are experiencing in the era of digital journalism.”
John Buchanan, whom Marty succeeds as publisher, commented, “I cannot imagine a better or more appropriate choice. Peter brings a deep understanding of church and culture, years of leadership and pastoral experience, theological sophistication, and proven administrative skill to his new responsibilities. His appointment is a very happy development in the long history of the Christian Century.”
Marty is a frequent speaker at colleges, churches, and conferences across the country. He is the author of numerous articles on leadership, preaching, and parish renewal and the book The Anatomy of Grace. From 2004 to 2009 he served as host of the national radio broadcast Grace Matters, sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which reached up to a million listeners weekly.
“I am an avid reader, fueled in part by decades of tracking the Christian Century closely,” Marty said. “I enjoy development work immensely, especially when the cause is compelling. I’d like to think I have a good instinct for administrative leadership. And when it comes to helping Christian people discover their distinctive voice in a pluralistic world, I want to be in on the effort. The stakes are too high to let thoughtful religious expression get pushed to the margins by blustery secular voices or by rigid theological minds trumpeting special interests.”
Marty noted that he brings to the position “the heart of a pastor” and a continued commitment to that ministry. “Like my wise predecessor, John Buchanan, and so many other pastors, I know the daily nourishment that comes from dwelling inside a congregation and relish a shaping process of the heart that is unparalleled. Every day ushers in new experiences of God and new insights for the mind. The mix of intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, and deeply human encounters in congregational life is never dull.”
“For all my love of parish ministry, however, I dwell in other worlds as well, one of which is writing, and one of which is the academic world.”
“John Buchanan” said Marty, “not only brought great insights of faith to the page. He was a courageous leader, and a winsome friend and mentor. He also helped create a new awareness among readers of the challenges of funding a magazine like the Century. By his lead, the Century launched new development efforts, increased donor involvement, and laid the path for a sustainable future.”
In 2010 the Academy of Parish Clergy named Marty “Parish Pastor of the Year,” recognizing excellence in leadership and faithfulness in congregational development. He has preached in some of America’s more notable pulpits, including at Washington National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, and Yale University. He has been the lead columnist for The Lutheran magazine. He has been a member of the Louisville Institute’s Pastor’s Working Group and a participant in the Duke Project for the Study of Ministry. In 2009, he was named the Hoskins Visitor at Yale Divinity School.
“I have discovered through my travels that a rather extraordinary sense of community exists among Centuryreaders. I witness a palpable enthusiasm whenever fellow Century readers share conversation about the magazine.”
The challenge facing the Century, he said, is to elevate its presence in digital media and develop new expressions of the magazine. “I look for our constituencies to grow in a number of ways. We have young readers to reach, emerging writers to cultivate, and donors to be reminded of their value to our long-term future.”
“Most of all, I intend to do everything in my power to continue fostering the scholarship, civility, and creativity that makes the Century’s pages so critical to the spiritual sustenance of readers.”
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