Notable Features

Two notable features associated with The Advocate are the back cover feature - "Doctrines Christadelphians Believe and Teach, " and the Ecclesial News (once called "Intelligence"). Both have occupied a prominent place within the pages of The Advocate.

"Doctrines Christadelphians Believe and Teach": This feature first appeared on the back cover of the September 1938 The Advocate was then edited by Brother Ernest Hardy, who along with two committee members revived the Advocate in January 1936. During the years 1902 through 1935, the back cover had been used to display "Christadelphian Meeting Places." Brother Hardy advised readers through a note on the January 1936 back cover that he intended to "...publish shortly the list of Biblical publications ...which can be had..." but the space remained blank until August when a "Read Your Bible" notice / encouragement appeared. This feature (occasionally replaced by similar encouragements titled " God Has Spoken" and "The Bible Speaks") continued until September 1938 when the "Doctrines Christadelphians Believe and Teach" first appeared along with "Doctrines Christadelphians DO NOT Believe. " No introduction or explanation relative to the appearance of this feature was provided, but we might assume Brother Hardy had been struggling for many months to come up with a back cover he considered suitable for permanent use.

Brother Hardy continued the "Doctrines" back cover through the following 4 years of his editorship and the feature remained in continuous use in the Advocate through December 2003; since that date it has remained in use on a periodic basis allowing the sharing of that space for the promotion of Bible Schools, ecclesial gatherings / events and special features. The "Doctrines" feature has changed very little throughout its 71+ years, with minor alterations to item 4 (Holy Spirit) and item 11 (the Kingdom), and in 1986 the addition of a statement at the end regarding the commandments of Christ as an essential component of the behavior and attitude of the saints.1

Ecclesial News (once called Intelligence): In the maiden issue of the March 1885 Advocate Brother Williams declared that the magazine would " used as a medium of communication between the Christadelphian bodies scattered throughout this great continent..." In the back of that issue, under the title of " The Voice of the American Brethren," appeared news from ten ecclesias ranging east to west from Richmond, Virginia to Cheyenne, Wyoming and from north to south from Albany, Wisconsin to Brownwood, Texas (occupying 4 of the 24 page issue). In the following April issue appeared "Intelligence" as well as "The Voice of the American Brethren"... both feature titles continuing through February 1886. Beginning in March 1886, "The Voice of the American Brethren" was replaced by " Letters and Extracts Therefrom" which appeared on a sporadic basis alongside "Intelligence" through April, 1887...after which all news and discussion was posted under the heading "Intelligence" and continued in that manner through December 1934. Ernest Hardy, Editor from January 1936 through April 1942, introduced the title "Ecclesial News" and that practice was continued through December 1951. However, Editor Lawrence Dodl reverted to "Intelligence" in January 1952 and continued with that title throughout his remaining 27 years as editor. Since January 1980 the feature title "Ecclesial News" has been consistently used.

The changing titles used to introduce reader news, discussion and communication is merely a curiosity, but the value of the feature itself has been immense. Ecclesias were scattered across the country with no reliable means of communication other than postal mail. An American magazine dedicated to reaching and uniting brethren and ecclesias through the Truth and fellowship was very attractive and surely accounted for much of the initial success Brother Williams experienced. "Intelligence" and " The Voice of the American Brethren" material occupied an average of 4.5 pages in the 1885 issues of the Advocate, with such expressions received as:

As time went on and communications grew easier and more varied, use and enthusiasm for communication through the Advocate gradually waned. Today, with phone service, e-mail and the Internet so readily available, it is impractical to reserve ecclesial news solely to a publication that arrives 30 to 90 days after the fact, yet the "Ecclesial News" remains a reliable source for advanced announcements as well as serving as a fixed register of events.

1 "Doctrines Christadelphians Believe and Teach" is available from the bookstore on cardstock with a "History" of the Christadelphians on the flip side.