Around 1440 a little man from Mainz changed the world.
Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press is commemorated annually in the Australasian Religious Press Association’s (ARPA) premier award. The Gutenberg perpetual trophy is awarded for outstanding achievement or overall excellence in Christian communication.
This year’s winner is The Lutheran.
Editor Linda Macqueen accepted the award at the annual ARPA conference dinner in Adelaide on 10 September in front of about 100 magazine, newspaper and web editors, journalists, photographers and sponsor representatives. They came mostly from Roman Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Salvation Army and Baptist traditions — with a tiny Lutheran cheer squad from the SA/NT District’s newspaper Together in attendance, too.
Nominations for the Gutenberg are judged on the quality of journalism, layout and production, and the use of professional and creative skills to communicate the gospel.
A stunned Linda told the audience of her initial awe of her ARPA colleagues when she took up her appointment as editor 13 years ago. She thanked some of them for their guidance and reassurance as she navigated her first year at The Lutheran.
Over the years God has given her vision, strength and courage for the role, she said, and has taught her to trust in him — ‘even though he has a bad habit of providing cover photos almost always at the stroke of press deadline!’
She concluded, ‘May the Gutenberg be a reminder to me — and to all of you who struggle with self-doubt — that God is faithful. When you respond to his call on your life, he will provide everything you need to do it.’
In his citation, outgoing ARPA president Captain Peter McGuigan (former Salvation Army communications director) praised The Lutheran for the ‘amazing and untiring commitment from its editor and small team ... and “outside-the-box” editorial vision and nous’.
But it’s likely that it was the quality of The Lutheran’s feature stories that won it the Gutenberg. ‘Not only do they inform, they also have the potential to move readers to action by drawing them into the story with compelling openings and penetrating insights into both the joys and the tragedies of life’, Captain McGuigan said. ‘The editor clearly has the knack of walking in the shoes of others — of looking through their eyes and writing what she sees and feels.’
Never a trumpet soloist, Linda also remembered the previous editors of The Lutheran — Pastors E W and Robert Wiebusch and Grace Bock — who each brought the magazine to important milestones in its development. While no Lutheran publication had ever won the Gutenberg before, it was awarded in 2007 to Pastor Robert Wiebusch in recognition of his service to ARPA as president, 1994-2005.
The Lutheran now joins an illustrious group of Christian publications — many with much larger circulations, with more paid and volunteer staff or with bigger and more secure budgets.
Johannes Gutenberg’s press changed the world, but not everyone can do that. The Lutheran has changed how we members of our church see ourselves and the way we are seen by other Christians, and by non-Christians, too. And that is significant in itself.