There is still much work to be done!
On January 1, 2022, the Atlantic Union Gleaner, the official publication of the Atlantic Union Conference, commemorates 120 years of ministry. The Gleaner magazine began 10 months after the organization of the Eastern Union Conference on April 16, 1901, at the 34th General Conference Session held in Battle Creek, Michigan. Later that year, at the first biennial session of the Eastern Union Conference, the organization’s name was changed to Atlantic Union Conference. Also at that meeting, “it was voted to adopt the plan of printing a Union Conference paper to begin with January 1, 1902, and to be known as the Atlantic Union Gleaner”—Atlantic Union Gleaner, January 1, 1902, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 12.
Gleaner Becomes a Reality
The periodical became a reality as other union conferences were also creating papers for their respective territories. “It is thought that combining the talent of all the workers in the Union Conference in one paper, so that the readers will hear, not only in regard to the progress of the work in their home conference, but also in all of the conferences in the union, will be more satisfactory than the former plan of conducting so many small papers”—Atlantic Union Gleaner, January 1, 1902, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 12.
Conceived by Jennie Thayer, who also served as the first Gleaner editor (1902-1910, 1920-1923), the magazine was created to inform the Atlantic Union Conference constituents about people and events—past, present, and future—as well as encourage members to participate in church activities.
Since its first issue, the mission of the Atlantic Union Gleaner has been to inform, instruct, and inspire its readers. The Gleaner also serves as the official publication to communicate notices of constituency sessions, special sessions, and other announcements to the Atlantic Union Conference constituents.
Today, the 24-page Gleaner magazine is mailed to constituents nine times each year (January/February, March, April, May, June, July/August, September, October, and November/December) and continues to be an important communication tool for the Atlantic Union. The Atlantic Union communication staff collaborates with the communication staff in each of the conferences in the territory to produce some of the magazine’s content. We thank all the communication leaders for their commitment and service over the years. Members are encouraged to share news, testimonies, information about outreach efforts, ministries, and events to help grow the church and proclaim the message of Christ’s soon return.
A Means of Advancing the Work
In the very first issue of the Gleaner, H.W. Cottrell, then Atlantic Union Conference president, addressed the constituents, and we share a portion of his message that remains relevant, even today:
“Dear brethren, our field for gospel work is world-wide, but we have especially assigned to us a great work in this densely populated Union Conference. There is one city in the Conference with more than three and a quarter million of inhabitants, four cities and boroughs with a population in each of over one million, and fourteen others, ranging from one hundred thousand to over five hundred thousand. It is really a country of cities in portions of this territory. Over one-third [of] the entire population of the United States is within the confines of this union of conferences. A very small proportion of these people know anything of the special message of soul-testing truth. There are approximately, including the children who belong to the church, only eight thousand constituency to herald the glad tidings; but, as you know, there are only few of these who are in active service. We need many volunteers to our ranks; such as have surrendered their lives, their property, their all, unto the Lord; and in return, have received Christ who is more than all, and have consecrated the new life back to Him for living service.
“We need means to advance the various interests of the work. The health department of the work should be established in a public way in every State in the Union Conference, and in numerous cities in several of the States. We must arouse as never before, buckle on the armor of the Lord, and enter the work for active service.”
The Work Continues
Today, the church membership in the Atlantic Union Conference stands at more than 128,500. In contrast to what it was 120 years ago, the state of New York is now the fourth most populous state in the U.S., with more than 20 million inhabitants, and more than a third of the country’s total population lives within our territory. Truly, there is still much work to be done! The Atlantic Union Conference’s mission is “to support and facilitate our six conferences and institutions in reaching all people with the Adventist Christ-centered message of hope and wholeness.”
As the work of the Gleaner moves forward, into the digital age, constituents may also access the magazine online (atlanticuniongleaner.org), and stay connected on social media (Facebook @atlanticunionconference and Twitter @GleanerFYI). Members can also sign up to receive the weekly electronic newsletter: Atlantic Union GleanerFYI.
A new president has taken up the mantle to lead the work in the Atlantic Union and he shared a renewed focus on the mission of the Atlantic Union. He is encouraging every member in the Atlantic Union territory to become involved in some form of evangelism. (Read his editorial titled “A Renewed Focus On Our Mission,” on page 3 of this issue.)
As you join us in commemorating the work of the Gleaner for the past 120 years, we invite you to, as Cottrell encouraged members 120 years ago, “buckle on the armor of the Lord.” Let us continue to proclaim the message of hope and wholeness and the soon return of Jesus Christ as we help to get people ready to meet Him.