The Review and Herald Publishing Association closed its Hagerstown, Maryland, facility to the public last Thursday, marking a significant milestone in the restructuring of Adventist publishing in North America.
Though the building is no longer open for business, several employees will remain on the job for the next few weeks to finish shipping out inventory, closing the financial books, and preparing the property for sale, according to officials at the Review and its sister company, Pacific Press Publishing Association in Nampa, Idaho.
The publishing restructuring plan, voted last June, called for Pacific Press to take on much of the publishing and printing done by the Review. While the Review will cease to operate as a separate institution, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) will adopt the Review and Herald name as the umbrella for several of its publications, including Adventist Review and Adventist World.
Implementing the overhaul has proved more complex and time-consuming than some expected. “The further you go in the process, the more complicated you realize it is,” said Kim Peckham, who handles corporate communications for the Review. “There are all these details that have to be settled.”
The Review completed its final book project in November, and the last print job came off the giant web press on December 17. Meanwhile, ongoing publications—including weekly magazines such as Guide and Insight, children’s Sabbath school quarterlies, and the 1.1 million copies of Adventist World printed monthly at the Review—had to be transferred to Pacific Press without any noticeable time gaps.
Forty semi-truckloads of equipment and inventory have been shipped from Maryland to Idaho, according to Peckham. Pacific Press now faces the task of integrating some 800 tons of material, ranging from high-tech machines for addressing and packaging periodicals to computers to pallets of books.
Minutiae can be just as overwhelming. Peckham, for instance, has spent hours changing contact information and updating links on every Web page operated by the Review.
Then there are questions such as: What to do with the wooden desk handmade by church pioneer and longtime Review editor Uriah Smith? How about the dozens of original oil paintings created by artists such as Harry Anderson and Russell Harlan for church publications decades ago?
Sorting out these details is a “massive project,” Peckham said. “It’s gone on longer than we expected because there’s more to it than we expected.”
For Review Employees, the Pain of Loss Stays Fresh
The Review’s lengthy demise has protracted the agony for its 140 full- and part-time staff members, most of whom have lost their jobs in a gradual process, a few people at a time.
So far 28 Review employees have joined the staff at Pacific Press, while another 12 to 15 will provide services as independent contractors, according to Jerry D. Thomas, vice president for product development at Pacific Press. Though the GC does not plan to hire new staff, a few former Review employees will support its publishing endeavors on a contract basis, Peckham said. Terminated employees are receiving severance benefits to tide them over the next few months.
Most Review employees expected the doors to be shut by last Thanksgiving, and certainly by the end of 2014, said Candy DeVore, editor of Kids’ Ministry Ideas magazine, who has worked at the Review for nine years. Instead some, including DeVore, are still on the job more than seven months after they learned of the Review’s fate.
In the meantime, the lack of a definitive timeframe for the institution to close has added to employees’ uncertainty over their future, DeVore said.
DeVore, who began serving as receptionist last fall after some of her other duties ended, took it upon herself to bring humor into an otherwise grim situation, sharing lighthearted and uplifting comments as she interacted with employees.
“I just want to make at least one person laugh every day,” she said.
Despite the pain of losing not only their incomes but what they view as their ministry and calling, DeVore said that Review employees have rallied to pray together and encourage one another to trust in God.
“It’s been a blessing to see everyone turn to their relationship with the Lord to get through all this,” she said.
Though many of the challenges of transition have yet to be resolved, Thomas said Pacific Press’s new relationship with the North American Division (NAD) will positively impact the work of the church. Previously, both the Review and Pacific Press were under GC supervision. The restructuring gives the NAD its own publishing house for the first time.
“Now the ministry of the publishing house’s magazines and books can be incorporated into the NAD’s programs,” Thomas said. “The result will be more and better resources to local churches and members and more coordinated and effective outreach programs into our communities.”
[Top photo of Review and Herald by Candy DeVore]
Edited 2-7-15 and 2-13-15 by Rachel Cabose