From the beginning ‘newsletters’ to the current Voice of the FCM, Editors and Mail Center Secretaries have been essential to getting the FCM publications out to the membership. If it weren’t for these men & women, the FCM would likely have not survived since the publication is the way many members stay “in touch” with the rest of the FCM family.
In reading through the historical documents, it becomes obvious that all editors faced two main obstacles in getting the publication out to the membership on time: 1) Getting members to send in articles to publish & 2) Finding time in their busy, personal lives to seek those who might contribute, edit the articles that did come in, and getting the printing & mailing done on schedule. Several editors also faced health issues which added stress to their position.
Until printing was done by a printing company and mailings were digitized, the Editor was also responsible for typing mailing labels & mailing the magazines. In addition, they usually were the folks who often received questions from folks about the magazine and membership in the FCM. Prior to an ‘official’ Mail Center Secretary established in the 1970’s, editors either did all of this themselves or had help from their wives or other members of the FCM. Many of these assistants are unknown, but the first known Mail Center Secretary was ‘Shorty’ Birch in the 1960’s.
Gordon Anderson is listed as editor for one issue published July, 1956. Unfortunately, we have no known photos of Gordon.
Stan Adair became editor (along with his other positions of President, Secretary, & Treasurer) in 1956 when Helen Easterly left. He remained editor until 1960.
Rev. Philip Hoy: Editor 1960-1961. Phil began a two-color ditto process. Shortly after becoming President, Bill Oberg asked Philip Hoy to be editor. It took approximately 9 months to get the first issue out, but the issues “looked good”. (What a Fellowship, p. 51) Unfortunately, we do not have any known photos of Phil.
Bill Oberg, upon becoming president, had quickly recruited Phil Hoy as editor. In 1961, Phil was overextended and had to resign. Bill became President & Editor. Bill would remain editor until 1964. The Sept-Oct. 1961 issue would be the first printed version of the Conjurer (previously had been typed & dittoed or mimeographed).
“Tony had some experience in publishing, so it was an answer to prayer when he volunteered to serve as editor of our official periodical.”What a Fellowship, p. 59
Rev. Clayton “Tony” Birch would be editor 1964-1969. Tony & his wife, “Shorty”, would become invaluable workers for the FCM in these years. Tony would resign as editor at the end of 1969 due to ill health. However, Tony and Shorty would continue to take care of the Mail Center duties. They would do this until 1976.
“The resignation was accepted with deep regrets…this team of Birches did a fabulous job for us. No matter who takes their place, there will ALWAYS be a void. Their shoes can not be filled.”Stan Adair in What a Fellowship, pp. 69-70
“Magic was a ministry, both Gospel and secular. I never charged a fee…Magic took me to nearly every state in the Union and all over Canada.”From his obituary in 2013
Felix Lorenz Jr. was editor for just three issues of the Christian Conjurer in 1970. The look of the Conjurer changed significantly in these issues and it was the beginning of having a featured member on the cover of the magazine.
Picture at left from Canadian Union Messenger, Vol. XLI, No. 16_August 15, 1972
Keith Lingley became editor for the July 1970 issue and remained editor through 1973. The cover design changed once again. During his time as editor, the printing was being done by R.L. ‘Dock’ Haley Jr. and the mailing of the magazine was done by Tony & Shorty Birch in the Mail Center. Keith remained very active in the FCM for many years and wrote many articles for the Christian Conjurer. He also donated some Jimmy Lake items to our Museum Collection.
Unfortunately, we have no known photographs of Keith.
Rev. Bill Baker, past president of the FCM, was editor 1974-1975. Dock Haley continued to do the printing & Tony and Shorty Birch continued to take care of mailing the magazine out. The editing was done in New Jersey, the printing in Indiana, and the mailing in New York.
“Many of the question you write in about will be answered in the Conjurer. Read it carefully…we’re striving for more variety and improvement…We want to make this little publication the “house organ” and medium between us all…”Dock & Betty Haley, The Christian Conjurer January 1976, Vol. 20-1
R.L. ‘Dock’ Haley Jr. and his wife, Betty, volunteered to take on all three jobs of editing, printing, and mailing when Tony & Shorty Birch needed to give up the Mail Center position due to health reasons. Dock became “Mail Center Director” in 1976 and, except for a short sabbatical in 1979, he would remain editor and Mail Center Director for the next 14 years.
Dock was active politically and had been Mayor, a Municipal Court Judge, and a Township Trustee. He was a talented magician and named to the Order of Merlin in 1991 by the I.B.M. and founded the Dock Haley Gospel Magic company which continues to flourish today. Dock passed away in 1998.
Pete Van Zyll and his wife, Ruth became the Mail Center Director (Ruth) and Coordinating Editor (Pete). The Mail Center would move to Michigan for this time period. They began with the July 1979 issue and do five issues total. Dock & Betty Haley would return in January 1980.
Pete would also do something new, he would have 12 co-editors working with him to edit specific sections of the Conjurer.
The 12 co-editors were: Forrest Kuhns, Rope Specialties; Douglas Sterner, Clowning; Gladys Anderson, Flannel-graph; Ralph Dewey, Balloons; Marge Schmidt, Ventriloquism; James Payne, Gospel Magic; Paul Everett, Illustrated Arts; Ed Corbin, Puppets; Gary Means, Chalk Art; Bill Baker, Magi-Minister’s Parade; and Skip Westphal, True Tales and Guideposts for Living.
Rev. Paul Everett served as Editor 1990-1992. He had been active in the FCM giving lectures, chairing committees, and performing. Paul was an accomplished ventriloquist and authored several books on magic and ventriloquism. During this time, Jean Hendrickson would be the Mail Center Secretary.
“I believe that we, the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, are perfectly positioned to share the Gospel to new generations of people in very unique ways.”The Voice of the FCM March-April 2022, Vol. 66-2
Eric Reamer would first be Acting Editor from July 1992-July 1993, then Editor from July 1993-Sept. 1995. During this time his wife, Melinda, would be Mail Center Secretary. Eric would once again become editor the July of 2021 and continues to serve the FCM in this position.
“Hopefully, the Conjurer Magazine can encourage member to present the ‘Good News’ using their talents…I want to fill the Conjurer with information to use in our ministries…”The Christian Conjurer, Editor’s Corner, Jan-Feb. 1996, Vol.40-1
Mike Stenberg became Editor in September of 1995 and added Mail Center Director to his duties in March, 1996. He would remain in this position until 2016 when financial issues in the FCM forced the Board to reorganize the positions of Editor & Mail Center Director.
Mike did an excellent job of getting material for the magazine as well doing design updates that greatly improved the ‘look’ of the magazine.
In addition, Mike was invaluable in the Mail Center and always knew the answer or at least where to get the answer to any question that was asked. A large void was left in the FCM with Mike’s departure from his position after 21 years of faithful service.
Maria Louella ‘Elle’ Lusk: Editor/Graphic Designer May 2016-June 2017. Elle was newly married to FCM member Daniel Lusk and did well as editor. The Mail Center Director duties for the next few years would be spread out among the members of the Board.
“As interim editor, I didn’t reach all my goals, but I came really really close.”John Swomley in The Voice of the FCM Jan-Feb 2019, Vol.63-1
John Swomley became editor (or in his word, “Interim Editor”) with the July/Aug 2017 issue of The Voice of the FCM and would remain in the position until January 2019. John had not done editing before, but learned quickly and was able to put out a quality product. One major change was the graphic design of the magazine was sent out-of-house to Zoran Maksimovic from Serbia. Zoran continues to do an outstanding job of designing the magazine.
Brian Foshee became editor with the March/April 2019 issue. Brian, as owner of Happie Amp (later Empower Sound) had a business as well as a magic background. Brian’s last issue was May/June 2021. His personal life became very busy and he felt he no longer had the time to commit to the magazine. Eric Reamer once again took on the position of editor.
You can read more about Brian on the Treasurers page.
Mail Center Secretaries
Violet ‘Shorty’ Birch did not have the official title of “Mail Center Secretary”, but that is the role she fulfilled from 1964-1976. Tony had the official title of “Mail Center Director”, but Shorty took care of the correspondence and much of the mailing duties. Tony & Shorty also assisted with the registrar’s duty at the conventions during many of these years. Tony & Shorty worked tirelessly for the FCM until ill health forced them to step back.
Betty Haley became Mail Center Secretary in 1976 when Dock Haley became Editor as well as printer. And, except for a short sabbatical in 1979, she would continue in this role until transitioning out between July and December 1989. The Mail Center was a busy place with occasional letters sent out from the FCM President, membership issues to address, and many questions to answer from members. In addition, of course there was the mailing out of the magazine. Throughout this time, mailing labels had to be individually applied to the magazines. Early in their tenure, the Haleys introduced a new method of membership records using individual index cards for each member with their information on it. At the end of Betty’s term, a transition to computer was started & this was completed by Jean Hendrickson.
In addition to her Mail Center duties, Betty Haley (like Tony & Shorty Birch) also acted as Registrar for the conventions.
Ruth Van Zyll was Mail Center Director (& secretary) from July 1979-Jan. 1980. This was during the time that Dock & Betty Haley took a short sabbatical and Ruth’s husband, Pete, was editor.
“It is with great anticipation and much enthusiasm that I am assuming the responsibilities of the F.C.M. Mail Center.”The Christian Conjurer Aug-Sept 1988, Vol. 32-8,9
Jean Hendrickson began as Mail Center Director/Secretary in July 1988, with the full transition occurring by Jan. 1, 1989. Jean would actually serve as both Treasurer during 1989.
You can read more about Jean on the Treasurers page.
MeLinda Reamer served as Mail Center Director/Secretary from July 1992 to Sept. 1995 during Eric Reamer’s first tenure as Editor. By this time, membership records had been transferred to computer.
Mike Stenberg served as Mail Center Director, as well as editor, from March 1996-2016 (see his Editor profile above). Mailing the magazine had been done by the printer for awhile at this point, so that duty had already been removed from the duties of the Mail Center. The correspondence duties and all of the duties surrounding new memberships, membership renewals, and questions from members were assumed by the Board of Directors.
Beth Salo volunteered to take on the duties surrounding membership issues when she became Recording Secretary in August of 2017. She continued this through both her terms as Secretary.
As the new Board of Directors was to begin on Sept. 1, 2023, the board decided that dealing with membership issues really should be separate from the Recording Secretary duties. However, since most correspondence was through emails and membership records were almost completely computerized, the board decided there was no more need for the title “Mail Center Director” or “Mail Center Secretary”, so the new title for this position would be Membership Coordinator.
The board appointed Beth Salo to become the first Membership Coordinator beginning Sept. 1, 2023.