This time period saw the greatest change yet in both appearance and content of the Australasian Record to date. What prompted this transformation in 1967?
Since 1964, retired former union president Walter Battye had been “temporarily” filling the role of associate editor. Initially expected to last only a few months, his assistance gradually evolved into a full-time role, spanning a three-year period. Battye’s role involved putting the Record together from reports coming into the Church’s headquarters. One of his significant contributions was the introduction of the editorial feature, which continues today.
In 1967, Robert Parr took charge of the struggling Australasian Record with a desire to liven it up. With his imaginative and humorous writing style, Parr revitalised the publication, attracting more readers and increasing its circulation. His editorials became the highlight of the magazine, blending pastoral insight, wit and a fresh perspective on current issues. Parr’s unique approach included engaging conversations between himself as the Record editor and as the editor of Signs of the Times (his other role), presenting different sides of church discussions. Another popular feature was the inclusion of witty or profound statements at the end of each issue, labelled “Finally Brethren”. Despite some mixed content, Parr’s engaging and inclusive style earned him a devoted following. According to David Marshall, an editor at the church’s Stanborough Press (United Kingdom), Parr’s strength lay in his ability to engage readers and take them on a transformative journey, emphasising the importance of the gospel above all else.
Record also underwent a physical change under the leadership of Parr. Dense text was substituted with photos and white space, making the pages more reader friendly. New columns were also introduced such as “Australians Abroad” with news of Australian missionaries overseas; “News from All Over” which is similar to our “Making Headlines” today; and “Gleanings from the Australasian Record”, a column that shared snippets from the magazine’s archives. He also introduced segments that you will still find in Record today like “Letters to the Editor” and “Flashpoint” news.
Parr’s personality shone through the pages of Record during his time as editor, with amusing comments like this throughout its pages: “(Editorial Note: The letter which appears below and purports to come from Paul of Tarsus, was dropped anonymously onto our editorial desk one day this week. But your editor is nobody’s fool; five minutes with an encyclopaedia confirmed his suspicion that, at the time Paul of Tarsus flourished, the typewriter had not been invented, and this epistle was typewritten! By a piece of rather clever deduction we adduced the fact that this letter, obviously, was a forgery. Then someone told us that Paul had been executed exactly 1900 years ago, and then we knew for certain that our intuition was right again. Nevertheless, because the pseudo-Paul has a timely message to give, we defer to him just this once.)”
Under Parr’s editorship, Australasian Record went through some major changes, elevating it into a vibrant publication that still captivates its readers today.
*Information in this column is taken are from the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA) articles: “Battye, Walter Edwin (1891–1972)” and “Parr, Robert Henry (1920–2013)”.