The Office: Good News ‘s Nuts and Bolts

By Charles Keysor

March/April 1981

What an assembly line is to an auto manufacturer, the general office is to Good News. At first, it was located in my study in the parsonage of Grace Methodist Church. During 1967-69, my wife Marge did all the office work as a volunteer. The load of correspondence grew each month. So I bought a dictating machine and found a lady in our congregation, Diane Hagemann, who typed letters as a part-time stenographer.

By 1969 we simply couldn’t handle the work from the parsonage any more. So we moved into a three-room office in downtown Elgin. It was owned by a member of my congregation, Attorney John Juergensmeyer. We then hired our first full-time employee, Norma VanDelinder, an accomplished secretary. She too belonged to my congregation.

Fortunately, my experience in journalism before entering the pastoral ministry had included executive responsibility and I was able to call on this as we built our office procedures and systems from scratch. Lack of money and personnel meant that we had to improvise constantly, cut corners, and do without many refinements considered routine in normal of-office. We worked every available moment on nights, early mornings, and weekends to produce the magazine, record contributions, and answer the mail.

Providentially, we avoided the mistake of trying to do our own printing and art work. Instead, we found competent experts and delegated to them. This allowed us to avoid buildup of costs for staff and expensive equipment. Also, it freed us to do what we could do mist economically and efficiently.

In 1972, I accepted an invitation from Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College. He asked me to join the faculty to teach Christian journalism on a part-time basis. I secured a special appointment from the Northern Illinois Annual Conference and in June 1972 we said good-bye to Elgin and moved south to the Bluegrass. On one day we purchased a house in Wilmore and also located space for the Good News office. It was larger than our old quarters in Elgin and the rent was reasonable. The only problem was that in the winter, cold winds filtered through cracks in the wall. From November to March we wore heavy sweaters and boots as we worked.

However, Wilmore provided many advantages for the office. Asbury Seminary and College are located here, and this provides a large pool of skilled secretaries and clerical workers – students and/or wives working on a degree known locally as P.H.T. – Putting Hubby Through.

By 1976 we had outgrown our office. The Board authorized a quantum leap in staff: Rev Virgil Maybray coming full-time to head our missions work plus Rev. Eddie Robb, Texas, a fulltime associate to share my burdens of editing and administration.

Where would we find more office space? One day Jean Brandenburg, a local businessman, came to see us. “I was wondering if you might need a larger office … “

He owned a nearby building which housed the offices of two dentists. They were leaving, he said, and he was looking for someone to rent the vacant space.

That is how we found our present office, 308 E. Main Street. [Good News moved to Spring, Texas in 19910]. They took out $50,000 worth of dental equipment and we moved in. Within a year we were cramped for space again. Our landlord (who is God’s particular gift!) offered to construct an auxiliary building … at no cost to us. We helped him design it, and occupied it in the fall of 1977.

Good News owns no real estate. I believe that the money contributed by Good News supporters should go into service, not real estate. Also, we need to stay flexible as an organization. So we own our office equipment, nothing more.

This says something important about Good News. We exist only because our  denomination has been unwilling and/or unable to meet the needs of its large evangelical constituency. If the day comes-and we hope it will – when our  denomination awakens to this responsibility, then Good News will be needed no longer.

It isn’t possible to mention all the people who have worked in the Good News office. Norma Van Delinder, Sylvia Culver, Ruth Wood, and Kathy Potter  ave served as my secretary-administrative assistants. I am indebted to them – as to Cynthia Wheaton, my present right arm. Eddie Robb, a former journalism  student, helped lay foundations for a wider operation, as did his successor, Bob Wood, a former Good News director.

Since 1975, Diane Knippers has served Good News in ever-widening capacities. She is Associate Editor responsible for “You Ought to Know,” one of the magazine’s most important features. Also she is Associate Executive Secretary, with special responsibilities for coordinating the activities of the various Good News task forces.

Starting in January 1979, Ann Coker, a former journalism student, became our Office Manager. She has been working on the magazine since 1977.

During her final year at Asbury College, Cindy Vetters, another of my journalism students, worked part-time for the magazine. Upon graduation in June 1980 she joined the staff full-time. She has been carrying major responsibility for the magazine but will be married soon and leaving Wilmore.

Mountains of letters and packages are sent by our shipping department every week. The present manager is Kathryn Sheffield, a United Methodist from Alabama.

For those interested in statistics, the present Good News office numbers twelve full- and seven part-time employees.

This article appeared in the March/April 1981 issue of Good News. 




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