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Christian Century Foundation | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Christian Century Foundation

Historical Note:

The Christian Oracle, renamed The Christian Century in 1900, a small weekly paper, was established in Chicago in 1884 by the Disciples of Christ. After a succession of four editors in ten years and three bankruptcies, Disciples of Christ pastor Dr. Charles Clayton Morrison became editor of the failing magazine in 1908 and subsequently purchased it. The magazine championed liberal causes with articles and editorials supporting Civil Rights, opposing the Vietnam War, opposing U.S. representation at the Vatican, and attacking evangelist Billy Graham for his simplified approach to Christianity. In 1958, the Century's fiftieth anniversary year, the magazine was recognized by the distinguished service to journalism award of the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism. In 1961, the Century received the Associated Church Press citation for outstanding editorial writing. In addition to these awards, the Century's growing influence was reflected by a subscription peak of 40,000 achieved in 1965.

In 1970 the Century participated in a costly merger with the dying British journal New Christian. Though the endeavor expanded circulation by 8,000, few of those readers, if any, re-subscribed. By 1973, the magazine was in financial trouble.

In 1972, Geyer resigned his editorship and was replaced by managing editor Dean Peerman.  At that time Methodist minister, liberal Democrat and editor of the Christian Advocate James Wall became President of the Foundation and editor of the Century.

The new editor was able to sharply reduce the operating budget, establish a high rate of renewal among regular subscribers, enticed an influx of new readers, and financial contributions from supporters to edge the Century into the black by 1974 and secure the magazine's publishing future.

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