by Adrian Thatcher
from Modern Believing Vol 60:4- October 2019

Such is the inordinate lead-in time for contributions to academic journals, I am writing this in the week of the summer solstice, and three weeks before edition 60.3 thuds through your letter boxes. Readers may be familiar with my name at the head of editorials (I edited Modern Believing in 2012 to 2014), but not all of you will be expecting to see it again, five years later. A word of explanation is in order.

In February this year the trustees of Modern Church were disappointed to learn that Dr Karen O’Donnell, after overseeing just two editions, no longer wished to continue as Managing Editor. As a trustee myself I had a hand in designing arrangements which would bring about greater integration between the charitable aims of Modern Church, the academic content of Modern Believing, and the ‘communication strategy’ (as we trustees allow ourselves to call it) of the charity as a whole. We had just completed a five-year agreement with Liverpool University Press to continue to publish our journal, and the opportunity to work on, and carry through, a five-year programme for the journal seemed too good to miss.

An editorial team, consisting of the chair and general secretary of the charity, the three editors, one or two trustees and a member of the editorial board, will develop a closer relationship between the trustees and the journal, and provide a forum where policy can be developed, and any difficulties that arise either in policy or production can be ironed out. By the time you read this, two planned meetings of the editorial team will have taken place. I hope to be able in my next editorial to share with you some specific plans for the future of the journal for the next quinquennium.

I have inherited this issue, which like 59.4 (Oct. 2018), has a bumper crop of reviews, and three articles (one of them longer than usually permitted) instead of the usual four. The three articles were all uncommissioned and peer-reviewed. One issue a year will still be available for uncommissioned articles: the next one (61.3, July 2020) is already looking full.

Karen reminded us in her first editorial that ‘Liberal theology does not … make for reading that is always comfortable. By its very nature it pushes the boundaries of theological discourse’ (60.1, p.2). Looking back on volume 60 as a whole, the journal has certainly done this. Over the year we entered territory unfamiliar to some of us (queer and black theology, 60.1); reflected theologically on the experience of childlessness in a deeply sensitive way (60.2); and showed the wider church that liberal evangelism is not only possible but indeed essential (60.3). I promise more ‘boundary-pushing’ theology in editions to come.