The History of The Christadelphian Tidings Magazine
Bro. Peter Hemingray
Christadelphians and magazine editing go way back. The first “Christadelphian” magazine was edited by John Thomas himself when he published a periodical called The Apostolic Advocate beginning in 1834. At the time the United States was less than 50 years old and California (the state where The Tidings was born) and Texas (where three of the first four editors were born) still belonged to Mexico. A little over 100 years later The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God was launched by Bro. Carl Wolfe in 1939. It has been published continually for nearly 80 years since and has had five editors: Carl Wolfe, Bob Lloyd, Don Styles, George Booker and Peter Hemingray.
Bro. Peter Hemingray was the first editor of the magazine to be born outside the United States, hailing (like Bro. Thomas) from England. Also like John Thomas, Peter immigrated to America in his late twenties. It was here in the “States” that Peter Hemingray researched and authored (in 2003) a book about Bro. Thomas called “John Thomas, His Friends and His Faith”. The highly interesting biography originally ran as a series of articles in The Tidings beginning in 1995. Fifteen years later, Bro. Hemingray became the editor of the magazine.
Peter Hemingray has something in common with those who edited The Tidings before him. All five of the past and present editors of The Tidings are descendents of Christadelphians from the late 1800s, back when Bro. Robert Roberts was editing the Christadelphian magazine. Bro. Carl Wolfe’s parents, William and Maggie, were baptized in the 1870s in Texas. Bro. Lloyd’s grandmother, Ella Lloyd, became a Christadelphian in the late 1880s. Henry and Sarah Styles, Bro. Don Styles’ great-grandparents, were baptized in Birmingham, England in 1882. Around the same time, Bro. Booker’s great-grandparents, Samuel and Eliza Johnson were baptized as Christadelphians in Texas. Bro. Peter Hemingray’s grandfather became a Christadelphian in Nottingham, England in 1896, two years before Bro. Roberts died in San Francisco.
Nearly 50 years later, when Bro. John Carter was the editor of the Christadelphian, Bro. Peter, the second of four children, and the only boy in the family, was born in Leicester, England, in March 1945 to Bro. and Sis. Owen and Ivy Hemingray. Bro Owen Hemingray was the son of Bro. Charles and Sis. Lucy Hemingray.
Charles and Lucy would be the first Christadelphian Hemingrays to take up residence in North America, but their stay was short-lived. As Bro. Peter tells it: “Bro. Charles married Lucy Chadburn in 1905, sailing for Canada within the week. Family lore recounts a brutal winter farming in Manitoba, and they returned in 1908, although my oldest Uncle, John, was born there.”1Personal History by Peter Hemingray, November 5, 2017
There were other Hemingray family members who came to Canada around this time as well: Charles Hemingray’s brothers Will and Arthur. Will Hemingray was not baptized when he arrived in North America but became a brother in Ontario, Canada about 1912. However, he “got baptized into an Unamended meeting (in Hamilton, Ontario), not realizing the difference, so when he returned to the UK in 1914 he had to join a Suffolk St ecclesia”2Personal email from Bro. Peter Hemingray, November 24, 2017. The Suffolk Street fellowship at the time was breaking bread with the Unamended fellowship in North America.
Bro. Arthur Hemingray, who emigrated in 1906 with his new bride Sis. Alice, joined the Brantford ecclesia, where coincidentally, the Recording Brother was H.W. (Harry) Styles, Bro. Don Styles’ grandfather3Christadelphian Magazine, April, 1907. A few years later the Hemingrays returned to England (though only temporarily4Christadelphian Magazine, January, 1910) and the Brantford ecclesia gave them a book as a parting gift. Bro. Harry Styles wrote the following to The Christadelphian:
It’s ironic that their relative, Bro. Peter Hemingray, would write a book on the same subject nearly 100 years later.
When Peter Hemingray was five years old, his parents, Bro. Owen and Sis. Ivy Hemingray, moved the family to Bradford in the North of England. He remembers spending “all my formative childhood in that industrial city, where my parents belonged to the local Christadelphian ecclesia. It was quite a large ecclesia, of about 150.”6Personal History by Peter Hemingray, November 5, 2017 Bro. Peter’s father was the Recording Brother of the Bradford ecclesia for a number of years. Bro. JB Norris who was well known for his book “First Century Ecclesia” was also a member of the ecclesia at the time.
In 1956, when Peter was eleven years old, the Central and Suffolk Street fellowships in England reunited. The two fellowships were originally separated in 1885 by a disagreement over “partial inspiration”. Bro. John Carter, editor of The Christadelphian magazine at the time, was a large factor in bringing the two largest Christadelphian fellowships in the U.K. back together. Bro. Cyril Cooper, editor of the Suffolk Street magazine Fraternal Visitor also played a significant role in the reunion. Although Peter Hemingray wasn’t personally affected much by the healing of the breach between these two fellowships at the time, it would later play an important role in his life. The woman who would become his wife was associated with the Suffolk Street fellowship as member of the Suffolk St. Ecclesia.
When Peter was a boy he attended a semi-private school. The deputy head master happened to be Bro. H.A. Twelves, who is probably best known among Christadelphians for his book “Freedom in Christ”. Amusingly Bro. Hemingray recalls, “Fortunately I never had any dealings with him in has official disciplinarian capacity, for he had a formidable presence and a commanding voice.”7Personal History by Peter Hemingray, November 5, 2017
Peter Hemingray was baptized on March 26, 1964 at the Bradford Ecclesia during his first year of college in Manchester.8Christadelphian Magazine, May, 1964 He seemed to have a connection with America even at this early time in his life. One of the things that moved him to be baptized was the assassination of U.S. President John Kennedy which happened four months earlier in November, 1963. The shocking event caused Peter to focus on the fact that he, like the President, was mortal and that life could end at any time.
Peter’s undergraduate years were spent around a lot of Christadelphians. Here is what he remembers of those years:
During this time Peter devoted parts of most of his summers to preaching campaigns in the U.K., several of which were in Glasgow. After graduation with a BSc, Bro. Peter continued to pursue his education, but before he finally graduated, he and Sis. Pat Hyde married in October, 1969. The newlyweds set up a home in Manchester while Peter finished his education, and attended the Old Trafford ecclesia. The Hemingrays would eventually have two children, Julia and Steven. In the meantime, however, a big change was in their more immediate future five years down the road.
Coming to America
After getting his doctorate in The Technology of Machine Tools, and finding a position in the machine tool industry, a chance arose for Bro. Peter to accept a job in America. So, he headed across the Atlantic with Sis. Pat, Joining the Cranston, Rhode Island Ecclesia in August 1974. Peter recalls not knowing exactly where he was headed when he took the job,
Through all the issues that arose at work, Bro. Peter was always able to find employment near an ecclesia. At the time of one of his moves, though, his boss actually contacted Bro. Bob Lloyd (because Bob was listed in an encyclopedia as the editor of The Tidings) to check on Peter’s reluctance to move, which was due to there being no Christadelphian ecclesia with young people nearby!
The first move after coming to America came in 1983, when Bro. and Sis. Hemingray and family relocated from Rhode Island, where their two children were born, to Connecticut. They transferred from the Cranston ecclesia to the one in Meriden. It was during his time in Meriden that Peter stumbled upon the information that led to his book on the life of John Thomas.
John Thomas, His Friends and His Faith
The story of how Bro. Hemingray came to write “John Thomas, His Friends and His Faith” is a very interesting one. It all began in 1993 when the Meriden ecclesia decided to celebrate its one-hundred-year anniversary. The research that Peter undertook to uncover information for the celebration led directly to discovering previously untold stories about Bro. Thomas. Here is the way that Peter explains how one thing led to another:
Like these articles, much of what Bro. Hemingray has written over the years has focused on the history of the Christadelphians.In 1997, Bro. Peter wrote an article for the Christadelphian magazine on Bro. Thomas called “The Turning Point”. The article marked the 150th anniversary of John Thomas’ Confession and Abjuration publication in the March 1847 issue of Dr. Thomas’ magazine, Herald of the Future Age. Bro. Thomas was professing his newfound understanding of the gospel and repudiating what he had believed before. Bro. Peter explained in his article the importance of this action by John Thomas: “In his path towards the rediscovery of the truth contained in the Bible, this was a most significant step, for by doing so he essentially severed all remaining ties to the U.S. Cambellites with whom he had been associated since his arrival in America in 1832.” As Bro. Thomas himself stated at the time “Thus after a journey of 14 years, I had found the truth”. Consequently he was re-baptized. Bro. Hemingray wrote another article for the Christadelphian in 1998 entitled “The Writing of Elpis Israel” which sought to answer questions about the publication of the book such as “What did Dr. Thomas give up to write his work, what was its impact then — and why should we still read it?”. He has continued writing in that magazine: in 2014 he contributed to its 150th anniversary issue with an article on its earliest history, and in 2016 he wrote about a trove of information about British conscientious objectors in WW1.
Like these articles, much of what Bro. Hemingray has written over the years has focused on the history of the Christadelphians. In 2008 he authored an article in The Tidings called “The Historical Interactions Between the CGAF and the Christadelphians” that detailed the common origins as well as the beliefs that Christadelphians and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith disagree on and have in common.11Tidings Magazine, November, 2008
An exception to his usual theme occurred when he was able to utilize his background in engineering to write a series of articles on “Metals in the Bible” that was published in The Testimony from 1997 to 2004.
In 1996 the Hemingrays moved from Connecticut to the Detroit area where they would remain for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, their children grew up, were baptized, and found spouses in the Truth. They also have made Peter and Pat Hemingray grandparents.
In 2012 Peter and Pat Hemingray’s son and daughter-in-law, Bro. Steven and Sis. Kristen Hemingray and their three daughters moved from Seattle (via Detroit) to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.12Tidings Magazine, December, 2012 In 2016, Bro. Peter and Sis. Pat Hemingray moved to Pittsburgh as well.13Tidings Magazine, November, 2016
As mentioned earlier, the Hemingray family had relocated several times since coming to America due to employment necessities. While in Detroit, the recession of 2008-2009 helped push Bro. Peter into a time of semi-retirement.
It was during this hiatus that the opportunity arose for him to become the fifth editor of The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God. It was an opening that he wasn’t expecting:
Bro. Hemingray’s appointment as the new editor was announced in the March- April, 2010 issue of The Tidings. Bro. George Booker, who had been the editor since 2007, became the associate editor, a role he continued in until late in 2011. When George stepped down as associate editor, Bro. Hemingray wrote the following notice in The Tidings:
In the May 2010 issue, Bro. Hemingray wrote an editorial that described his own vision for the magazine:
When Bro. Hemingray took over, the organization of the magazine had been re-vamped, and several section and contributing editors had been added to the staff. “The fundamental idea was to attempt to replicate something of the structure of ‘The Testimony’, with essentially stand-alone editors for various sections, and the role of editor being mainly to compile.” The original section and contributing editors were, as of May 2010:
- Associate Editor/Reflections: George Booker
- Music: Ken and Joan Curry
- Sunday School: Jim Harper
- Youth Speaks: Jason Hensley
- First Principles: Tim Young
- Letters to the Editor: John Bilello
- Contributing Editor: Steve Cheetham
- Bible Mission News: Jan Berneau
At first editing the magazine went as expected but eventually some issues came up. As Bro. Peter explains it,
It’s very common for editors to place their own stamp on a magazine and several changes have been made by Bro. Hemingray during his time as editor. As he explains it,
We’ve come to the end of our account of how a little Christadelphian magazine, that began as a Sunday school newsletter for a Southern California Berean ecclesia, became the magazine of the North American Central fellowship. Along the way we’ve shared in the lives of six brethren (five editors and one assistant editor) who invested great amounts of their time and energy for the spiritual benefit of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Perhaps our Lord will return soon and the story will end here. But if not, let us all pray that God will provide others like them to carry on the work so that The Christadelphian Tidings of the Kingdom of God will continue to enlighten, strengthen and encourage us in the days ahead.
~ Gordon Hensley (Simi Hills, CA)
Bro. Peter Hemingray continued as the Editor of the Tidings Magazine until May 2020. His contributions have been significant over the decade he served. We thank him for his passionate work for our community.
Beginning with the June 2020 issue, Bro. David Jennings of the Verdugo Hills, CA ecclesia has assumed responsibility as the Editor. Bro. David and his wife, Sis. Mary Kay, live in the Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles. It is ironic that Bro. David was a long-time member of the Pomona Ecclesia, where the Magazine was first published and now attends the Verdugo Hills Ecclesia, where former Editor, Bro. Bob Lloyd, was a long-time member.