By Douglas LeBlanc
The editor of The English Churchman and St. James’s Chronicle, a voice of a deeply Reformed readership for most of its history, has written an elegant and witty farewell as the fortnightly newspaper closes shop.
The Rev. Christopher Pierce, an American-born priest who prepared for ministry at the Presbyterian Church in America’s Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, has edited the paper since February 2021.
Pierce compared the pace of being the sole editor to stepping onto an electric treadmill. “You cannot get off and you cannot just stop without busting your nose,” he wrote. “Others might liken it to being a dairy farmer. You cannot take time off because the cows have to be milked twice a day no matter what.”
Pierce, who served in Northern Ireland before becoming editor, wrote in the Irish spirit of knowing that life breaks your heart.
“The notice earlier this month came as quite a surprise to me, as it has to many of you, our readers,” the paper’s final editorial said. “That said, everything has an expiration date and now the English Churchman and St James’ Chronicle has arrived at its appointed time. Two hundred and sixty two years was not a bad innings. As Editor, it has been my immense privilege to oversee its publication these last two and a half years.”
A statement on June 14 by the trustees of the paper said they “will consider how best to use the resources entrusted to them as they seek to fulfill the Trust’s first object — ‘to promote the Protestant principles and Evangelical doctrines of the Church of England as set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles and Homilies thereof.’ The Trustees retain the goodwill of the ‘English Churchman and St. James’s Chronicle’ and the right to use the words ‘English Churchman.’”
The paper began its life as St. James’s Chronicle in 1761. The English Churchman began publication in 1843 as a Tractarian publication. The paper did an editorial and theological about-face in 1884, when it was acquired by supporters of the evangelical Church Association.
The trustees alluded to this history in their announcement: “The Trustees give thanks for the witness that the English Churchman and St. James’s Chronicle has been enabled to make since 1884, when it was placed on its present doctrinal basis. They pray that the Lord will raise up suitable instruments in his service ‘for such a time as this,’ and that all may be done to the ‘praise of the glory of his grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).”
Pierce quoted from the revered evangelical Bishop J.C. Ryle: “Cling to the old Church of England … cling to its Bible, its prayer book, and its Articles. Let no charitable institution suffer. Consider the many poor and needy. Support missionary work at home and abroad. Help the underpaid clergy. Never forget that the principles of the Protestant Reformation made this country what she is, and let nothing ever tempt you to forsake them.”