Signing off . . .

After more than 25 dedicated and passionate years of service, Lee Dunstan pens his final communication as editor of Signs of the Times magazine.

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It’s been more than 25 years since I took up an editorial role with Signs of the Times. And this is my final communication to you as its editor.

I came to the Signs via South Australia Big Camp, which is surprising, as it is well off the worn career path.

Having tired of my criticism of the previous year’s camp newsletter, my wife, who was a member of the Conference camp planning committee, volunteered me for the job of the newsletter’s publisher-editor. I had no experience (my career was in teaching), but I had dabbled in a bit of desktop publishing with my new and expensive SE30 Macintosh. So the idea wasn’t without merit.

Producing Canvas Chronicles, a four-page rag daily for a week, was ambitious—collecting news from around the venues, introducing Big Tent speakers and summarising their presentations, and providing “click-bait” fillers to keep the campers engaged—but each day opened to a new edition; each day was like a new episode of a dream. I was in my natural element, it seemed to me, and I looked forward to it. As, apparently, did the campers.

The Chronicle proved to be a hit with camp residents, who queued for each new edition, some requesting the previous day’s edition that they’d missed, while others begged for a full eight-day, colour-coded set to take home as a Big Camp souvenir or for a family who couldn’t attend!

Struggling with a somewhat depleted self-belief at the time, and questioning (with good cause) my future in teaching, it was a literal godsend. Here was something I could do! “You’re a square peg in a round hole,” the Conference president reassured me. “This is you.”

And others in higher places agreed! While no-one actually said, “Hey, I love your work, Lee”, it was from that experience that Signs Publishing Company (SPC) invited me for a week of work experience. So while my family relaxed on sunny Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, I went to cold, damp Warburton.

But it was a sacrifice worth making, as it turned out, and when an editorial vacancy came up a year or so later, the SPC invited me into the position of assistant editor for the Signs of the Times. And in varying editorial iterations, that’s where I’ve been since, and how I’ve gotten to know many of you. 

" . . . when you know you’re using His spiritual gift for His purpose, you don’t tire."

It has been a most enjoyable journey. Led by the Spirit, I believe, and with a creative and dedicated team behind me, I’ve produced a magazine—some 271 of them—that readers have enjoyed, with a message they were happy to share.

But now it’s time to step down and into retirement, handing over the reins.

It’s been my pleasure to serve. Especially to hear your stories of how Signs has impacted lives, an instrument in leading many to choose eternal life. So to those who’ve sponsored magazines for sharing, entrusting this purpose to me, thank you for your support.

Thank you also for forgiving me my mistakes, including giving “birth” to a navy frigate in Adelaide (amazingly), nominating Peter as the first pope (mysteriously), adding a “u” into iconic Qantas (unforgivably) and others I’ve forgotten (mercifully).

Twenty-six years is a long time in one job, but it has been easy to spend “more time in the office” and I leave wishing I’d spent even more.

The prophet Isaiah promises,

“. . . those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”*

And when you know you’re using His spiritual gift for His purpose, you don’t tire. So when of late I detected a degree of tiredness overtaking me, I recognised that it was Him telling me it was time for a new generation of editors to dream their dreams in my place.

And it was time to say goodbye.

* Isaiah 40:31

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