Women and their words have always played an important role in the life of the Adventist Review. It began with words from a 20-year-old wife and mother, Ellen G. White, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in November 1848. After emerging from a heaven-sent vision, she told her husband, James, “I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. . . . From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world” (Life Sketches, p. 125).
That first little paper, The Present Truth, came off the press in July 1849. Later the paper’s name was changed to Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. In addition to being a visionary, Ellen White was a main contributor to the paper, which published hundreds of her articles.
A Promising Young Writer
Just two years after the first issue was printed, editor James White invited a promising young writer named Annie Smith to work for him as copy editor. “For the next three years,” writes Erica Richards in her article “The Story of Annie Smith” (see Adventist World, November 2009), “Annie worked diligently for the Review and was eventually given full responsibility for the paper while the Whites were away,” although her name did not appear in the masthead.
In addition to her editorial work, Smith published 45 hymns and poems in the Review before her life was cut short by tuberculosis when she was just 27.
A perusal of the Review’s pages since Smith’s death in 1855 reveals the bylines of numerous women who have made valuable contributions through their articles, reports, poetry, and other writings.
On the Masthead
However, it wasn’t until August 7, 1941, under the editorship of Francis M. Wilcox, that a woman’s name appeared on the masthead of the Review and Herald, when Ruth Conrad was listed as editorial secretary. Soon the names of more women and men were added as “Spot News Special Correspondents.”
Thirty-six years later, on October 27, 1977, Jocelyn Fay was introduced as an assistant editor of the magazine. This was the first time a woman had been promoted to the level of an editor at the Review. Jocelyn (or Jocey) had been listed as an editorial assistant, then editorial associate, before editor Kenneth Wood presented her name to the board to serve as an assistant editor. This was not a new position, having been filled by D. A. Delafield in the 1940s and by Wood himself in the late 1950s.
First Female Assistant Editor
“When I first came to the Review in 1973,” Fay recalls, “the men on the staff were editors, the women were all secretaries.” She learned of her new position as an assistant editor when, coming back from lunch one day, she found flowers and cards on her desk. “I think that’s what made it real to me,” she said.
The new assistant editor began editing news and obituaries, then moved on to articles and features, some of which she wrote. In addition to writing and editing, Fay also did the “pasteup” (before the days of desktop publishing) of the dummy pages for the news section, and eventually of the entire magazine after the Review switched to a new design.
Jocelyn Fay became managing editor at the Review in 1983. William Johnsson proposed this new position in early 1983 as a way to smooth the transition of the Review and Herald moving to Hagerstown, and the Adventist Review coming under the auspices of the General Conference. The managing editor acted as a liaison between the publishing house and the editorial offices of the magazine. “Jocey was a very organized person, and well respected by the press as a person who kept to schedules,” remembers Johnsson.
In 1986 Fay moved to Atlantic Union College as public relations and alumni director. She later worked at the Review and Herald Publishing Association as a copy editor, and in 2007 went to the Southeastern California Conference, where she served as assistant to the president for communication.
Fay retired on September 1, 2011, after 43 years of working for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and meeting publication deadlines. She hopes that one of her contributions to the Review was to “help open doors for the women who are there now, and that they will do the same for the younger women who are following.”
Learning at the Review
When she joined the staff of the Review as a secretary in 1974, Aileen Andres (later Sox) had no previous editorial experience, but she did have a master’s degree in Spanish. The publication was starting a Spanish edition for the Inter-American and South American divisions, and her language skills were a strong asset. Before long she was promoted to “editorial secretary,” with Wood’s promise that if she would learn, more promotions would follow.
“Kenneth Wood had a wonderful ability to make people feel that they were part of a work family,” said Sox. “He treated us all very equally, and he wanted everyone to have a backup—to know the other person’s job. He would say, ‘If one of us gets the bubonic plague, someone has to get the magazine out!’”
In 1980 Andres-Sox became the second woman to serve as an assistant editor. In addition to writing, editing, recruiting authors, and guiding the monthly Spanish edition, she learned to do the pasteup from Jocey—a skill that still serves her well and helps her keep costs down as longtime editor of Our Little Friend and Primary Treasure.
Years later, at the memorial service for Kenneth and Miriam Wood, Aileen Andres Sox reminisced: “Elder Wood used to tell Jocey and me that we were like his daughters. One time he added, ‘just not in the will.’ But that’s not a problem for me. He gave me a rich inheritance; I just got it all while he was living.”
A Creative Time
When Deborah Anfenson-Vance joined the Adventist Review as an assistant editor in early 1985, the staff was still using typewriters. But not long after her arrival, the entire team transitioned to computers.
Before coming to the Review, Anfenson-Vance had been assistant editor at Insight magazine. She held a master’s degree in New Testament studies from Andrews University, where Johnsson had been one of her professors. Some years later when Johnsson called Deborah to work at the Review, she decided the timing was right, in spite of having to care for a 2-month-old daughter.
“I had already worked as a writer and editor,” she recalls, “and I had the theological background. My husband was at a point where he wanted to make a transition in his career, so he stayed at home with our young daughter . . . 
and I went to work at the Review.”
Anfenson-Vance especially enjoyed the creativity of the job, and helped in the magazine’s redesign. She found the writing assignments rewarding and put a lot of effort into her editorials. “It was fun to be a part of something that was really growing and creative. We were always planning new things. . . . I learned a lot about writing and editing and the discipline of getting things done.”
The 1985 General Conference session in New Orleans was especially memorable for Anfenson-Vance because of a writing assignment that featured Adventist artists—Vernon Nye, Harry Anderson, and Irvin Grey Althage—whose paintings touched the assistant editor’s heart. “I still have the photograph [of Althage’s painting], and it always touches me to remember meeting this man who was so quiet and humble, yet so strong in his artistic expression.”
Since leaving the Review in 1988, Anfenson-Vance (now known as Deborah O’Keefe) has lived in California, Louisiana, and Washington before moving to Virginia. She has transitioned from being a full-time writer to a full-time visual artist who travels the country. “For me,” she said, “art is another form of connection with people and some sort of spiritual expression. At every art show there are people who come, and they will be moved in a spiritual way.”
Addressing Issues Confronting the Church
When assistant editor Jocelyn Fay left, Johnsson turned to Kit Watts to fill the vacancy. Her background—with a master’s degree in religion, another degree in library science, and her experience as an associate pastor at Sligo church—combined to make Watts a strong candidate.
Picking up Fay’s duties, Watts greatly assisted in the mechanics of putting the magazine together. She was also in charge of the Reflections page and wrote news articles. Later her responsibilities included editing lifestyle articles, recruiting authors, and interfacing with the publishing house.
Watts served on committees of the General Conference, including the newly formed Global Mission Committee and committees dealing with women’s issues. As the women’s retreat movement became more active, she traveled the country, attending and reporting on these events.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of her work was discussing issues confronting the church. “Having the ability to translate some of these issues into the church paper and applying Adventist Christian principles to them was an amazing experience—to be involved in issues that really matter in the church,” she said.
Reflecting on the collegiality of the staff, Watts noted that “we interacted well and often. It wasn’t just the magazine that we were involved with . . . we made opportunities to work together as an entire group—both women and men. . . . It was a real special experience.”
In 1997 Kit Watts accepted two half-time positions—one with the Communication Department at the Southeastern California Conference (SECC), the other as director of the new Women’s Resource Center at La Sierra University. Later she worked full-time at the SECC, but continued assisting at the Women’s Resource Center. In 2007 she retired, but faced some unwelcome surprises, including battling cancer. She continues to recover and is enjoying lots of fresh air, a garden, two burros, and two cats at her home in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
“It was a great blessing to be involved [at the Review]. I had wanted to do that even as a young person. . . . It’s nice to look back and realize that God has had a hand in your life.”

Managing the Editors
When Myrna Tetz, an experienced teacher, dean, and communications director, received her second call to join the AR team in 1997, it was to be managing editor. “I was responsible to get the articles to the press on time. There were always deadlines. I proofread, edited, did some writing and troubleshooting.” In addition, Tetz enjoyed reading articles people sent in, and says she “hated turning any of them down.” She was also in charge of the Reflections page, Lifestyle/Health, and the news commentary.
Tetz considers the people she worked with during her five years at the Review as lifelong friends. Thankful for the younger editors, Andy Nash and Kimberly Luste Maran, Tetz felt that it was “such a compliment to have a young person seem to appreciate me being there.”
Following her retirement in 2002, Tetz and her husband, Bob, settled in Durham, North Carolina. They now live in British Columbia, where she continues writing for a variety of publications and serving as a consulting editor for Ministry magazine.
“Who Is That Guy?”
Bonita Joyner Shields was an associate pastor at the Spencerville, Maryland, church when she received the invitation from William Johnsson to join the AR team in 2002 as an assistant editor. An accomplished author with a heart for ministry, Shields saw this as an opportunity to minister to the world church through her writing.
She joined with Kimberly Luste Maran and Merle Poirier in launching AR’s new magazine for younger readers—KidsView. One of her favorite memories regarding KidsView was when she coordinated the on-going focus group termed the “KidsView Advisory Board.” Thinking the kids would enjoy meeting the world church president, Bonita invited then-president Jan Paulsen to attend one of the group’s meetings. As Pastor Paulsen was speaking to the KidsView board members, one of the youngsters leaned over to Shields, asking, “Who 
is this guy?”
While at the Review, Joyner-Shields also coordinated the monthly “Discipleship” issue, a topic she feels strongly about, remarking that “Discipleship is about the whole gospel for the whole person to the whole world” (The Kingdom Life, NavPress, 2010).” She says, 
“I would love to see us [Adventists] reclaim that. God calls us to this abundant life, this wholeness.”
Leaving the Review in 2007, Joyner-Shields continues her editorial work as editor of the Sabbath School Bible Study Guides for children and youth, ages 10-18. She also serves as assistant director for discipleship for the General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department.
Today’s Team
Today women make up a strong core of the Adventist Review/Adventist World staff; and half of the total team. Sandra Blackmer serves as features editor; Kimberly Luste Maran is the young adult editor; and Wilona Karimabadi is editor of KidsView, as well as an assistant editor for the Adventist Review. Merle Poirier is assistant to the editor for production, while Gina Wahlen is assistant to the editor. Judy Thomsen is correspondence editor, and Rachel Child is the publication’s financial manager. Editorial assistants play a vital role at the Adventist Review, especially in keeping the manuscript process running smoothly. Several women in recent years have filled this role, including Jackie Ordelheide Smith (1985-1994) and as marketing director (2003-2007); Ella Rydzewski (1994-2003); Ruth Wright (1999-2005); Larie Gray (2005-2006); and Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste (2007-present). Other women who had significant involvement as AR staff include Charlotte Pederson McClure, associate publisher (1999-2000); and Shelley Nolan Frees-land, associate publisher and marketing director (2000-2002).
“A journal—and a worldwide publishing enterprise—that began with a vision given to a woman can’t fully serve God’s end-time people unless it actively recognizes and recruits the gifts and skills of women,” says senior editor Bill Knott. “For its first editions, the Adventist Review was suffused with the wisdom and passion of the women of this movement. Their contributions—theological, pastoral, motherly, practical—gave this journal and its ‘daughter’ publications a prominent place in Protestant publishing, and dramatically moved this people forward. It will always be the business of the Adventist Review to make certain that the team that shapes the church’s major journals celebrates the giftedness of this movement’s female majority.”
Gina Wahlen is assistant to the editor of the Adventist Review. She has enjoyed writing articles for the Review since 1985. This article was published May 10, 2012.

Copyright © 2018, Adventist Review. All rights reserved worldwide. Online Editor: Carlos Medley.
SiteMap. Powered by SimpleUpdates.com © 2002-2018. User Login / Customize.