The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine
Bro. Don Styles
Most people in North America look forward to retirement as a time of leisure, travel and a relaxed schedule. But this was not what retirement meant to Bro. Don Styles. At age 50, After 20 years of running PAK Printing in Detroit, Don retired. But, unlike many others, spending the rest of his time in a life of leisure was not what he had in mind. What he wanted was “something useful to do.”1Personal email from Don Styles to Ken Sommerville, 2/14/2014 And for Don, that something needed to have a spiritual component to it. He found what he was looking for when, as he put it, “Bob [Lloyd] approached us about taking over The Tidings.”2Personal email from Don Styles to Ken Sommerville, 2/14/2014
Five years after entering what was his third career (when you include the computer work that he did when he was young), Don explained in The Tidings the details of how he was offered his new job:
If Bob Lloyd was looking for an editor with an incredible amount of energy, organizational ability and international speaking experience — someone like himself, in other words — he offered the job to the right person. Bro. Don Styles fit all of those qualifications as well as the most important ones: a strong love for God, His word and the Christadelphian brotherhood. Don had those qualifications in common with all of his predecessors at the magazine.
Each of the first three brothers who were responsible for the success of The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God had another characteristic in common with Bro. Don Styles. All of them were remarkable workers in God’s vineyard. Bro. Carl Wolfe, who envisioned the magazine and got it off the ground, continued to innovate and work on ways to help the brotherhood into his eighties. Bro. B.A. Warrender, who was Carl’s associate editor, was a prolific writer and speaker in both his native Britain and here in America. Bro. Robert Lloyd, the second editor, kept an incredibly full schedule editing, speaking and leading God’s flock. As we’ll see, the third editor was no exception to the rule. The work all of these men were able to accomplish is staggering. While most of us will never achieve the amount of spiritual work they did, we can certainly be inspired by knowing about it and perhaps that will challenge us to accomplish a bit more ourselves.
There was something else that Bro. Donald Styles had in common with the three brothers mentioned above: a long family history in the Truth. Don’s great-grandparents, Henry and Sarah Styles, were baptized in Birmingham England in 1882. Eleven years later, in 1893, Bro. Henry died and Sis. Sarah Styles and family immigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada that same year.
We’re given a glimpse of the family in the 1898 Christadelphian Advocate magazine, when the editor, Bro. Thomas Williams wrote about visiting the Hamilton Ecclesia just prior to the Amended/Unamended division:
One of the sons mentioned in the quote above would have been Bro. Herbert Styles who later transferred to the Buffalo Ecclesia (around 1908), preceded a few years earlier by his mother, Sis. Sarah Styles. The other son would have been Bro. H.W. (Harry) Styles, who is the ancestor of many of the Christadelphian Styles that we know today. Bro. Harry Styles appears to have been the Recording Bro. of the Hamilton Ecclesia at the time, having taken that role as early as 1897.5Christadelphian Advocate, December 1897 By 1903 Harry Styles had become a member of the Brantford Ecclesia. He became the Recording Brother of that ecclesia the following year and was still holding the position in 1927.6Berean Christadelphian, March, 1927
Bro. Harry and Sis. Gertrude Styles had nine children, all of whom became Christadelphians. One of their children, Sis. Florence Styles was the mother of Bro. Ken Sommerville, who is currently a member of The Tidings Committee. Another of their children, Sis. Eunice Styles was the mother of Bro. Peter Robinson, who would marry Bro. Bob Lloyd’s daughter, Cheryl. A third child, Bro. Herb Styles was the father of Don Styles.
Bro. Herb Styles was born in 1908,7The Christadelphian Tidings, March, 1993 and baptized in the Brantford Ecclesia in 1926.8Berean Christadelphian, April, 1926 The Brantford Ecclesia was doing well at the time he was baptized as evidenced by the following note from the editor of the Berean magazine in 1928:
Bro. Herb Styles moved to Detroit in 1929, joining three of his brothers there: Ernest Styles, Albert Styles and William Styles.9Berean Christadelphian, January, 1929 Herb Styles married Sis. Nellie Hickman in 1930.10Berean Christadelphian, November, 1930 He would serve the ecclesias for the next 56 years, falling asleep in Christ in 1986 as reported in the Tidings:
The attributes mentioned in the final sentence above were shared by his son Don, who likely learned them from watching his father.
Don’s Earlier Years
Bro. Don Styles was born Donald Herbert Styles on April 26, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. He was baptized on September 23, 1954 in the Detroit (now Livonia) Ecclesia.
Don Styles majored in economics at Wayne State University and excelled as a member of the debate team. He graduated in 1959, and while attending ecclesial young people’s gatherings around this time, met Sis. Ellen Forsythe of the New York Queens ecclesia. Ellen had been baptized with her twin sister Marie on July 3, 1949, in the Newark, NJ Ecclesia. Their parents were Bro and Sis. Arnold Forsythe,11The Christadelphian Magazine, September, 1949 and their grandparents were early Texas Christadelphians as noted in an article by Bro. Joe Banta, who married Marie Forsythe and later became an assistant editor of The Christadelphian Tidings magazine:
Young Ellen Forsythe was impressed with Don Styles’ Bible knowledge and enthusiasm for the Truth. No doubt Don was impressed with Ellen as well. She was a member of the Christadelphian Campaign Committee as early as 195613Christadelphian Magazine, Novemeber, 1956, and she wrote an article for the 1959 Christadelphian entitled “The Example of Ruth”.
In 1957, a couple of years before he met Ellen, Brother Don Styles began to preach the gospel to others as a participant in what were known as Door-to-Door Gospel Campaigns in cities on the east coast of the United States.14Tidings Magazine, August 2011 Don began to speak as a visitor at various ecclesias and to become involved in mission work in the Caribbean about 1960. He moved from Detroit to New York in 1960 when, on November 26th of that year, he married Sis. Ellen Forsythe. The couple soon moved to Houston, Texas, where Don got a job working for IBM maintaining mainframe computers, and their first child was born.15Eulogy by Bro. Glen Anderson at Don’s funeral, 3/11/2017
In 1964 Don became the Recording Bro. of the Houston Ecclesia and a year later, Don and Ellen and son David moved to Detroit.16The Christadelphian Tidings, March-April, 1966 One of the reasons Don and Ellen made the move to Detroit was to strengthen that ecclesia’s CYC. They also added to the Sunday school, having three more sons over the next few years: Daniel, Jonathan and Matthew.
Don worked for a couple of years in computer systems at Holly Carburetor before taking over for his father at PAK Printing Co. Herb Styles owned and operated the company and was ready to retire. Don ran PAK Printing until 1986 when he followed the footsteps of his father and retired from that career. Two years later he was editor of The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God.
Don was also well known internationally and did a lot of speaking in other countries in the 1980’s.In the years before Don became the editor of The Tidings, he taught at a number of Bible schools. He taught his first Bible School at Idyllwild in California in 1963.17The Christadelphian Tidings, January-February, 1963 He taught at the same school in 196418The Christadelphian Tidings, March-April, 1964, and again in 196619The Christadelphian Tidings, January-February, 1966. This was followed by Silver Star in Canada in 1969 and Idyllwild again in 1974. He then taught at Midwest and Eastern (Wilbraham) in 1977, Silver Star and Hamilton in New Zealand in 1981 and Rocky Mountain in 1983. He was back as a teacher at Idyllwild, and also at Southwest Bible School in 1984. And finally, prior to being editor of The Tidings, Don taught at Florida, Niagara Falls and Eastern in 1986.
Bro. Don Styles was also an accomplished writer long before he became the editor of The Christadelphian Tidings. He had contributed a number of articles to The Tidings over the years beginning in the mid 1960’s, and in 1981 he wrote an article for The Christadelphian Magazine entitled “The Coming Invasion of Israel”. He penned three more articles for that magazine over the next six years. He also coauthored a very popular book “Family Life in the Lord” with his wife Ellen in 1984. A number of excerpts from this book were printed in the Christadelphian Tidings magazine issues in that year.
Don was also well known internationally and did a lot of speaking in other countries in the 1980’s. In 1985 he toured a few ecclesias in England where he gave talks. In 1986 he taught at a Bible School for young people in Leeds and spoke again in Leeds in 1988, this time for a family day that was attended by around a thousand people of all ages.
Don toured the U.K. in 1987 and in 1988 he visited New Zealand and El Salvador to teach about the Bible.
Don was very involved with preaching the Truth from a young age, and became a committee member of the Christadelphian Bible Society (a North American preaching function) in 1962.20The Christadelphian Tidings, May-June, 1962 Later that year the Society embarked on its first effort: a statewide Bible campaign centered in Austin, Texas. Don gave one of the public lectures and a follow-up lecture as well.21The Christadelphian Tidings, November-December, 1962
Bro. Don always had a keen interest in the reunion activities in North America, and was a Regional Delegate to the Amended Continental Reunion Committee beginning in the late 1970’s.22The Christadelphian Tidings, July-August, 1980 He became the Secretary for the Amended National Reunion Committee in the early 1980’s.23The Christadelphian Tidings, May-June, 1983
Out of retirement
Don’s new career wasn’t going to be a “cushy” one. When Bro. Bob Lloyd turned the leadership of the magazine over to Don Styles, Bob knew all about how much work was involved in being the editor of The Tidings. When he retired from the position 30 years ago in 1987 Bob wrote the following:
This is what Herb Styles had written to Bro. Lloyd in 1958:
Along with the new editor for the magazine came changes in those who would assist the editor. Rather than the staff of three who had helped Bro. Lloyd at the time he retired from the position, Bro. Don had only an Assistant editor, Bro. Troy Haltom, to help him get the magazine out. Bro. Lloyd wrote the following thanks to those who had assisted him in the work:
Changing the editor of a magazine usually also means a number of changes in the magazine itself. Some of those changes may be continued for a long time while others will be short-lived. The same can be true of retirement. In the summer of 1987, Bro. Don Styles’ short retirement from work was about to take a new and very “useful” direction. In the next article we’ll take a closer look at Don’s editorship of The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God and the changes that he made to the magazine.