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Action affects Review and Herald, Pacific Press Publishing Houses

Nampa, Idaho (June 24, 2014) The Review and Herald and the Pacific Press publishing houses have approved the biggest restructuring in Adventist publishing's 153-year history, embracing a plan that Adventist leaders hope will strengthen the church's U.S. digital presence and ensure the long-term viability of its publishing work.

Constituency meetings of the two corporations, held consecutively on Tuesday at the denomination's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, voted 153-66 (Review and Herald) and 42-1 (Pacific Press) in favor of the restructuring.

The decisions made on Tuesday, June 17, were the last step needed to launch the plan to build Pacific Press into a market-sensitive publisher capable of holding its own at a time when readers increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets rather than books and magazines for information.

Under the restructuring, the financially troubled Review and Herald Publishing Association will unwind operations at its 80-acre facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, in a process that could take several months to accomplish.

Some employees and assets may be transferred to the Nampa, Idaho-based Pacific Press Publishing Association, which will become the North American Division's major institution with its own printing facilities.

No one disputes that people like to read. The question is how they read today compared to a decade ago, when books and magazines dominated the world just as they had done since the days when early Adventist leaders started the Review and Herald, the church's first institution, in 1861.

Adventists nowadays can get information instantly through various news websites and blogs, and from Adventist-owned television stations like the Hope Channel that have a world-wide presence.

The shift in the general reading patterns of the public and a societal trend toward digital media have hurt the sales of Adventist publications, and church leaders have expressed fears that both Pacific Press and the Review and Herald would fold without a major restructuring.

How many Review and Herald employees may be offered jobs at Pacific Press and which product lines may be moved there are among the issues that the North American Division and Pacific Press will need to tackle in the coming weeks.

"I probably have more questions in my mind than I have answers," Dale Galusha, president of Pacific Press, said in a recent telephone conversation from his office in Nampa. He said Pacific Press would only decide which assets it might absorb and how many staff it might need once the North American Division determined which product lines it wanted to support.

Galusha vowed that Pacific Press would honor all Review and Herald magazines contracts, including Message, Insight, and Guide. "We will make sure that promises are fulfilled," he said.

Under the restructuring, Pacific Press became an institution of the North American Division following the June 17 vote, while the General Conference will retain a constituency structure for the Review and Herald, as one of its institutions whose scaled-down operations will move to its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Delbert Baker, chairman of the Review and Herald and a General Conference vice president, underscored that the Review and Herald would continue its ministry, albeit at a different location and, without its printing presses, with a different focus.

"A most encouraging reality is that the RHPA will continue its historic publishing mission at the General Conference headquarters uninterrupted," he said. "A most painful aspect of this process is the phasing out of the Hagerstown facility and the impact it has had on the dedicated RHPA employees."

He said much thought and care was going into the plans to care for the affected employees at Review and Herald. "We can thank God and everyone involved for the committed effort that has been invested to make the transition for the RHPA employees as manageable as possible," he said.

Bill Knott, the editor-in-chief, executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World, and RHPA board member said, "The sense of loss is palpable for all of us who have grown up with Review and Herald-published products." He said Adventist Review and Adventist World expects to work as closely with Pacific Press as they had with Review and Herald.

"At the end of the day, it's our mission that we must focus on, and that mission reminds us that we must always adapt our methods to bring the three angel's messages to the attention of the millions who don't know Jesus," he said.

Adventist News Network
Andrew McChesney/Adventist Review