The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine

Bro. Robert J. Lloyd (cont’d)

Bob Lloyd with family
Bro. Bob Lloyd with his family, around the time he became editor of the Christadelphian Tidings Magazine.

Life as Editor

Bro. Bob Lloyd was already a very busy man when, in 1957, he accepted the position of editor of The Christadelphian Tidings. He had three young children and he was trying to get his new insurance business off the ground. But it probably didn’t take him long to decide to accept the offer. His daughter Linda shared with me that Bob truly believed, “he should always take the opportunity to do the Lord’s work. He knew he was helping people, and helping so many to choose the path that leads to life, that he wanted to serve and accept each call for service…he wouldn’t turn down any requests unless he physically couldn’t do them.”1Email from Linda Wilson, May 27, 2017

When a married brother is making these kinds of sacrifices for the brotherhood, we can be certain his wife is backing him up and making her own sacrifices for Christ. This is a reality that should never be forgotten.

Sis. Peggy Lloyd remembers the meeting at their home in which her husband was chosen to be the new editor of The Tidings. When Bob took on the role, he was determined to do the best job that he could, which of course involved a great deal of work on his part. In those early days several members of the Tidings committee would meet around the Lloyd’s dining room table each month to prepare the magazines for mailing. Using a portable printer, they placed the names and addresses on the magazines one-by-one. Peggy, Richard Stone (Assistant Editor) and John McConville (Subscription and News) all helped with the mailings.

That Bob took the responsibilities of publishing the magazine very seriously right from the start can also be gathered from what he wrote in the February 1958 editorial:

“We of ‘The Tidings,’ realizing the responsibilities of preaching ‘The Truth’ via the written word, have accepted this assignment with trembling hearts and feeble knees acknowledging, as Solomon, that we are but little children, and we are in the midst of God’s people, a great people, and so we pray with Solomon that God will give us an understanding heart that we may discern between good and bad that our words may be fitly written as ‘apples of gold in pictures of silver.’ ”

Bro. Bob knew that the magazine’s subscribers also had an important part to play, as he had mentioned in a message for the readers in the January 1958 issue, his first as editor:

“January marks the beginning of a new year and this issue of The Tidings starts a new year of publication, the first in the tabloid size [8.5 x 5.5; the size it remains today]. It includes some new ideas, some which have been suggested by you, our faithful readers. We pray that with God’s help we will place in your hands each month a magazine that will be worthy of your support.”

The need for the readers’ support is something else that hasn’t changed over the years. There has continually been a struggle to raise enough money to cover the cost of publishing. Bro. Lloyd wrote about this problem in 1961:

The Tidings is faced with a perplexing problem. Our printing costs have risen so sharply that now we do not have enough funds to publish the twelve issues we had planned for 1961. We have received so many letters of encouragement from you, our subscribers, that we want to keep the magazine going if it be the Lord’s will. Temporarily we are forced to publish The Tidings on a bi-monthly basis until we are able to build up enough subscribers to support it on a monthly basis again. If each one of you would only send us one more subscription our problems would fade. We want to thank those who have included an extra sum with their annual subscription payment. These have helped immeasurably.”2Tidings Magazine February 1961.

Waiting for the Lord

Bro. Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr. and Sis. Eliza Johnson, grandparents of President Lyndon Johnson.
Bro. Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr. and Sis. Eliza Johnson, grandparents of President Lyndon Johnson.

The 1960s was a turbulent time in America and The Tidings included articles on subjects like race relations, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. While events in the 60’s were unsettling, they would also raise feelings of excitement for many Christadelphians as they seemed to point strongly to Christ’s imminent return.

These feelings increased when in late 1963, Lyndon Johnson became President of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The fact that Johnson’s grandparents, Sam, Sr. and Eliza Johnson, had been Christadelphians created quite a stir among the brotherhood at the time. An article by Bro. Joe Banta entitled “President Johnson and the Truth’s Heritage” was included in the January-February 1964 issue of The Tidings.

At the end of 1963, Bro. Lloyd, as editor, had sent a letter to President Johnson as well as an offer to send him a copy of Elpis Israel.3Tidings Magazine, January, 1964 President Johnson responded with a letter that was published in the January-February 1964 issue:

My Dear Friend:
Your sincere expression of interest during these days of transition has provided a source of strength for me. I am deeply grateful for your thoughtfulness. I would be glad to receive a copy of Dr. John Thomas’ book which you offered to me.
My best wishes.

It was also in 1964, that a photo was added to the cover of the magazine for the first time. While the look of The Tidings continued to change, the desire for the Kingdom to be quickly established did not.

While Bob always looked forward longingly to the Kingdom, he understood that it is destined to be set up at God’s discretion. Two major wars around this time, involving Israel, amplified the feeling that Christ was at the door. The Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 seemed to bring the world to the brink of “Armageddon”. It would have been very difficult to believe at the time that 50 years later we would still be looking forward to that day.

While Bob always looked forward longingly to the Kingdom, he understood that it is destined to be set up at God’s discretion. The first Tidings issue of 1967 began with an article that reflected the belief the brotherhood had in Christ’s imminent return but was tempered with a disclaimer at the beginning of the article:

“The following article, entitled, ‘THE COMING STORM IN THE MIDDLE EAST’ is a bold effort to pin-point the date for the establishment of the Kingdom of God [the writer chose 1987]. There have been many attempts in the past by various Christadelphian writers to set a date for the return of Jesus and the commencement of His reign of peace, and they have always met with failure. It is the opinion of the editorial staff of the Tidings Magazine that the task of naming the actual year in which God will set up His kingdom is an impossible one, and that the mild rebuke of Jesus to His disciples just before His ascension to the Father’s right hand still stands; ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath but in His own power.’ (Acts 1:7). There have been so many times when interpretations of prophetic events yet future, have been shown to be wrong, that we should always approach the uncertain details involved in the unfolding of God’s purpose with caution. You may wonder, then, just why we elected to publish the following article, when it seemingly attempts to do what we consider impossible. The reason is simply that it is a well thought out arrangement of future events, and its thought-provoking challenge is certain to stimulate our readers about a subject that should constantly fill our prayers.”
Bro. Bob on his way to teach Bible School in New Zealand, in 1974.
Bro. Bob on his way to teach Bible School in New Zealand, in 1974.

It was shortly after this, in the early 1970s, that Bro. Bob Lloyd expanded the work he was doing for his master by teaching at a Bible school, something he would do many times over the next 40 years. His initial endeavor was at the Silver Star Bible School in Canada in 1971. In 1974, Bro. Bob was asked to teach at a Bible school in New Zealand, his first of many Bible schools outside the U.S. Over the years Bob also taught at schools in England, South Africa, Russia, India, Australia, South Korea, Guyana and Jamaica as well as the U.S. I personally had the privilege of hearing him speak at several schools in America. Like many other brothers and sisters I will never forget the spiritual lessons that Bob reinforced with apropos stories and props. Anyone who attended a Bible School where Bob taught will also remember his “Unbaptized” classes, and many will know that it was those classes that brought them to the point of baptism into Christ.

If you were fortunate enough to have heard Bob speak, you may have assumed that he was a natural at it. He seemed to have such a wonderful rapport with the audience and appeared so at ease as he shared with other Christadelphians the book that he loved. The truth of the matter though, according to his daughter Linda, is this:

“He was always nervous about speaking. He always had butterflies in his tummy, he said. Speaking took a lot out of him and he’d be exhausted afterwards. He never got over being nervous for speaking. He spent a lot of time in preparation and in the early years he’d record his talks and listen to them to see how he could improve and also to get them in his head. His gifts were not natural, he worked very hard and studied books on speaking and to help think of ways to make his messages memorable and to make connections with his audience. He wanted the Truth to live. He would get very nervous before each talk.”4Email from Linda Wilson, May 27, 2017

The interpersonal connection that Bob displayed from the platform was evident on a more personal level as well. As might be expected, many people asked him to conduct pre-baptismal classes with them over the years, but few may be aware of the amount of work that Bob did to bring “lost sheep” back into the fold. Bob’s daughter Linda remembers that after he had died many people spoke or wrote to the family

“telling their stories of how during a period of their life when they were down and out on the Faith, Dad would reach out to them in various ways and brought them back into the fold.”5Email from Linda Wilson, June 15, 2017

Besides his care for individual brothers and sisters and heavy workload as a popular Bible school teacher, Bob was the Recording Brother of the Glendale, CA Ecclesia and a member of the Radio and TV Committee for many years.

He also took great interest in the reunion effort which was evident in The Tidings magazine. News of progress towards reunion between the Amended and Unamended ecclesias was carried in the magazine as early as 1964. A section entitled “Reunion News” became a regular feature beginning in 1966, and it included details of the possibility of reunion in California in 1967. The reunion news section would continue through Bro. Bob’s editorship, but reunion would not be reached in North America or in California by the time he retired from being editor.

The reunion progress seemed to stall early on and Bro. Lloyd directed an editorial on the subject to younger brothers and sisters in the May-June, 1968 issue of The Tidings:

“To the young brethren and sisters the efforts of the reunion committees seems agonizingly slow. Because they want so much to see it accomplished they almost come to think that the end justifies the means and feel tempted to take action themselves. This kind of thinking is extremely dangerous and would be as wrong as the mob breaking into the jail to lynch the prisoner being held for trial. It must be remembered that there are reasons for the delay. Several years ago when a statement was accepted by the Central ecclesias and by the Pacific Coast unamended committee, it was rejected by the unamended ecclesias themselves. In order to have true unity there must be agreement in belief and practice. Until the agreement occurs there can be no unity. Sincere brethren have worked for years and are still laboring to see if this agreement exists. Reunion can only occur quickly when an individual or a group of individuals adopt the basis or statement which the other group has used for fellowship over the years. This has happened in many instances and reunion for these happy brethren and sisters took place in a matter of hours. Patience is called for when sincere brethren and sisters want reunion but are unwilling or unable to accept the standard into which new members are baptized and fellowshipped. The reasons for the reluctance and delay are best known to those who hesitate and it behooves the rest of us to try by ‘patient continuance in well doing’ to seek to win our brethren and sisters by adding to our patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things be in us and abound, they make us that we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bro. Bob defeating an “encumbered” runner in a foot race.
Bro. Bob defeating an “encumbered” runner in a foot race.

Bro. Bob excelled in influencing the young people. His object lessons were a wonderful way for them to learn the truths of God’s word. Who could forget the silver dollars that Bob would throw on the floor to illustrate the love of money or his unwinding a roll of adding machine tape as a metaphor for eternal life? One of his more memorable object lessons was his challenge to the teens to provide their best opponent to outrun him in a footrace. Bob, not particularly athletic, was in his late forties when he began to incorporate this demonstration in his repertoire. It sounded like an easy win for the young man who accepted the challenge, but there was a catch: the teenager had to compete while carrying a stack of chairs while Bob ran unencumbered and naturally won the race. Bob’s point was etched in the observers’ minds: In running our race to the Kingdom, we must set aside every weight and sin that does so easily beset us!

Bro. Bob excelled in influencing the young people.While his race to the Kingdom would continue for many years, his role as editor of The Tidings ended when Bob was 62 years old. Bro. Don Styles took over as editor in 1988, 30 years after Bob had accepted the role from Bro. Carl Wolfe. In the January 1988 issue, Bro. Styles wrote about the great amount of work that Bob had carried out for the brotherhood during those three decades:

Bro. Bob around the time he retired as editor of The Tidings.
Bro. Bob around the time he retired as editor of The Tidings.
“Thirty years is a long time to be putting out a magazine. It is a long time under any circumstances; but when one is running his own business, taking an active role in his home ecclesia, serving surrounding ecclesias in many capacities including performing weddings and funerals, and is traveling widely to serve Bible Schools and ecclesias throughout the continent and the world, thirty years of meeting production deadlines is an extraordinary example of discipline and perseverance. Thanks, Bro. Bob, for your years of putting out ‘The Christadelphian Tidings.’ A good service has been performed to the ecclesias of North America. We are scattered over vast distances and have found the binding influence of the ‘Tidings’ very useful to our fraternal associations.
“And while we are saying a word of thanks to you, let me say on behalf of many parents and many baptized believers, thanks for helping so many make the decision of a lifetime. You have helped many see the passing futility of this world and fix their gaze on ‘a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.’ You have also invigorated many of us in our walk and in our love for Christ putting before us unforgettable illustrations that help us remember great lessons from the Word. Hopefully, by relieving you of producing The Tidings, we will help you to vigorously continue these other areas of service until our Lord comes.”

Despite the many encouraging signs in the world, our Lord would not return before Bob fell asleep. Bob, however, would continue to “invigorate us” for another 27 years before passing off the scene. Bro. Lloyd fell asleep in Christ on December 14, 2015, at 89 years old.

Bob Lloyd’s legacy

Bob wanted to be working for God until his last breath.6Email from Linda Wilson, May 27, 2017 God seemed to grant him his wish. Though for the last few years of his life he had to give up teaching at Bible schools, he was able to teach the Verdugo Hills ecclesial CYC class for several weeks just prior to his death.

Bro. Bob had ably taught many Bible schools and study days over a forty-year span. His final one was a study weekend in September 2011 in Rogue Valley, Oregon. On the flight home from the weekend, Bob lost consciousness due to a heart issue, resulting in an emergency landing. Bob was scheduled to lead another study day two weeks later in Vancouver, Canada. Never wanting to miss the opportunity to help his brothers and sisters, Bob was determined to have surgery to implant a pacemaker and then fly up to Vancouver to lead the study day. For Bob to fly so soon after surgery didn’t seem like a good idea to my son Jason, who had grown close to Bob over the previous few years. Jason offered to take his mentor’s place in Vancouver, and the ecclesia accepted his offer. Bob was not able to fulfill his appointment, but only because, as the quote from his daughter Linda at the beginning of this article stated, “he wouldn’t turn down any requests unless he physically couldn’t do them.”

The point of these articles on Bob’s life and leadership is not to glorify Bob Lloyd. He would have been very uncomfortable with that. Just like all of us, Bob was human and had his faults. The point is to show what can be accomplished if we truly dedicate ourselves to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Two verses come to my mind when I think of Bob, because they seem to embody what he was all about:

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,” (1Pet 1:22 ESV).
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1Cor 13:4).

Bob Lloyd was a very loving brother who was also exceptionally talented and at the same time extraordinarily humble. While I knew Bro. Bob personally for many years, there were others who knew him much more closely than I. Two of them, Bob’s work associate and his grandson, had words to say about him that give real insight into the life of an exemplary brother in Christ.

Bro. Ken Sommerville, who worked for many with Bob, wrote the following about him in the January, 2016 issue of The Tidings magazine:

”I was Bob’s business partner for 40 years as well as his brother in Christ. All of us on Sunday morning are on our best behavior and we are all in what will probably be our spiritual high point for the week. Our guest speakers at Bible Schools know that they are teaching by their words and in their example as they discuss Scriptures with the brethren and sisters during the week. Daily life is a bit different. When you are in business together day in and day out and trying to come to grips with situations that are difficult and do not present clear black or white alternatives the decisions you take manifest who you are. Bob never drove the car too close to the edge of the cliff. He was upright in all his dealings. Bob always made sure our client knew what wasn’t covered as well as what was covered. The underwriting information he submitted to the companies was the whole picture. The Bob you saw on Sunday was the Bob I had the privilege of working with every day.”

It was Bob’s love of service that his grandson, Bro. James Robinson, wrote about in the February 2016 issue of the Tidings:

“You see, my Grandpa was a doer. He was someone who cared deeply about others, and tried to make a difference in their lives. His attitude was that, as long as God gave him the strength to serve, he was going to. And he did. He only stopped giving study days because he literally collapsed on the plane on the way back from Oregon. He went to the Idyllwild Bible school every single year. And when they forbade him to go there because of his health, he went to Shippensburg instead, until his health stopped him from even doing that. And, at every Bible school he went to, he held an ‘unbaptized class’ where he tried to help unbaptized people decide whether they should be baptized. Every single one.
“Even when he didn’t have the strength to travel very much, he still tried to do as much as he could. He still went to meeting, every Sunday, and made an effort to say ‘hi’ to everyone. He still exhorted. Every month, he wrote a minute meditation for The Tidings magazine, and sent a compilation of them to everyone he knew who got baptized. Things got harder, but he kept doing as much as he could, while he could, because, as long as God gave him the strength to serve, he was going to.
“But, he was an old man. He was losing his strength. It was becoming harder and harder for him to do things. And that was really hard for him, because he still cared, and still wanted to make a difference, and there were fewer things where he could still be effective. And so, I think God was being merciful by having him die while he still could do a little. While he hadn’t become completely powerless yet. While he could still be a servant. Because, although his death will be hard for his wife, and his children, and for me, I think it will be a good thing for him. Because, for him, the next thing he’ll see is the resurrection.”

In his final Minute Meditation, in the December, 2015 issue, Bro. Bob wrote words that he lived by:

“We cannot please our God with a half-hearted effort. The standard is high, as we read in Deuteronomy, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.’ Jesus tells us, ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.’ Paul explains how he sets his priorities, ‘But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ We need to commit ourselves as single-mindedly as Paul did.”
Bro. Robert Lloyd in his late eighties.
Bro. Robert Lloyd in his late eighties.

There can be no doubt that this is exactly what Bob did in his life. Bob unknowingly summed up his own life when he quoted Rom 14:8 in his first article in The Tidings, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord’s.” Bro. Bob Lloyd always knew who he belonged to and he dedicated his life to serving his master and his brothers and sisters. His work on The Christadelphian Tidings magazine was only one part of a multi-faceted life of service but it was a very important one to him. It’s not surprising, then, that this article on his life ends with four quotes (spanning an amazing 73 years) from the magazine that meant so much to a young Texas teenager who grew up to be its editor and touched so many lives in the process. Including mine.

Minute Meditation

The Greek philosopher Epictetus said many years ago that “any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” We can read in the book of James how to control our emotions by listening more and slowing down our reactions: “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.” Let us keep in mind this good advice, and remember the words of Paul who tells us, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath”.

The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine

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