What goes into making a Best in Class entry in our National / International Magazine contest category? Here’s a look at 2021’s winner The Christian Century
The judges have spoken, and we’ve decided to take a peek into some of our Best in Class winning entries from the 2021 Associated Church Press Best of the Church Press awards contest.
Our second category is National / International Magazine, and this year eight publications entered in hopes of receiving top honors. Though it was a tight contest among friendly rivals for the accolade, our panel of judges ultimately chose The Christian Century for this year’s Award of Excellence.
Published since 1884, originally titled The Christian Oracle, with offices in Chicago, the magazine says of itself: “Committed to thinking critically and living faithfully, the Century explores what it means to believe and live out the Christian faith in our time.”
Judges praised many aspects of the publication saying:
“Gravitas. The Christian Century has it. Crisp clean design Reflects a quiet air of authority, yet has the audacity to surprise… This is a product of research, reason, contemplation, of measured calls for action not panic-fueled exactions… This is what Professional Journalism looks like.”
“Well-rounded diet of news, features, first-person columns, poetry, arts and media reviews… Nice, big five pages of religion news. Kudos for broad coverage: Not just the mainline denominations that the Century represents, but also Catholics, Southern Baptists, even Mormons.”
“Wonderful articles and content as always — thought-provoking, well-written, wide-ranging. The Christian Century has been a boon for Christianity for many decades.”
In the Nov. 3, 2021, issue submitted for judging (and for ACP members to download!) the cover article on race with Willie Jennings led readers in to a number of topics including social media use, Mormon mothers as influencers, theology and fossil fuels, hunger and simplicity, among other articles in keeping with the progressive values espoused in The Christian Century’s mission.
Constructive criticism came from the judges as well, urging a design update for the print magazine. Little did judges know, but a redesign effort was underway as they did their work in early 2022.
Managing Editor Steve Thorngate said the publication will continue to put energies into the magazine’s online publishing efforts even as they see the importance of a new print design and frequency, now 12 issues per year:
“We’re excited that, even as we invest in our web presence, social media, and podcasts, our readers continue to share our devotion to print,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be able to undertake a major redesign and relaunch as a monthly magazine, with a perfect binding, higher page count, thicker paper stock, and more space for art. Print is hardly a growth industry, but a silver lining to this situation is that aesthetics are more important than ever to a print publication’s impact. That’s a delightful challenge to take on.”
Thorngate, who assumed the managing editor role in February of 2020, leads a team of talented journalists, many of whom have joined the organization in the last four years, along with Publisher and Editor Peter W. Marty. Staff members of The Christian Century have played key roles over the years as board members, convention coordinators and volunteers with the Associated Church Press, and are well represented by their presence at conventions and in the annual contest.
“It’s always a delight to have our work affirmed by the good folks at the ACP,” said Thorngate. “It’s been a season of change at the Christian Century — staff transitions, the soon-to-be-launched redesign as a monthly, and of course the same pandemic disruptions and grief that everyone else has been dealing with. We’ve worked hard to make sure these things don’t prevent us from putting out great issues, and it’s gratifying to know that the contest judges thought we succeeded.”
Congratulations to The Christian Century staff and to all the publication that entered the Best in Class National / International Magazine category.