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Monday, September 26, 2016
Alex Mitchell - pioneer in Christian journalism RIP
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Alex Mitchell RIP
Alex Mitchell, who edited the Evangelical Christian monthly magazine Third Way for five of its first six years and established its reputation as making a major contribution to Christian thinking about societal issues, has died aged 63.  She also made an important contribution, not least as the only woman and only non-ordained member, to the words group that produced Hymns for Today's Church. This was one of the major British inter-denominational hymn books of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Third Way was launched at the beginning of 1977 as a fortnightly magazine providing a biblical perspective on a wide range of societal issues.  It was the brainchild of John Capon, the editor of the monthly magazine Crusade. The new magazine reflected a growing concern amongst evangelicals on societal issues, particularly following the first international congress on world evangelisation in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974 (the third one took place in Cape Town in 2010).  After working at Crusade for four years Alex Beale, as she was then, joined its sister publication Third Way at its launch where she worked as Assistant Editor. The next year she become Editor and took the magazine to its current monthly format.

During her editorship, Third Way's contributors included figures, later well-known in the British church, such as Tom Wright and George Carey as well as evangelical leaders of the period such as John Stott, David Watson and George Hoffman, (the founder of Tear Fund).  She attracted notable political figures to its pages including former Prime Minister Edward Heath. From the USA she had such diverse contributors as Jim Wallis, of the radical movement Sojourners, and Chuck Colson, the Watergate conspirator who became a christian and founded Prison Fellowship. From developing countries, interviewees ranged from Mother Theresa of Calcutta to President Binaisa of Uganda.

John Stott, the Rector Emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place and a leading figure in world evangelicalism, commented during her editorship that "Third Way is becoming indispensable reading for those who want to think Christianly about contemporary issues".  In his sermon at her wedding in 1980  he said that  "under your editorship Third Way has been a blessing to hundreds of thousands."  

Alex also showed that Third Way could survive financially even during the severe British economic recession of 1979-81, by recruiting a small team of volunteers to help her, by then the sole member of staff.  She left Third Way at the end of 1982 on the birth of her first son, but continued her involvement with societal issues at the national level through her active Board membership of the Shaftesbury project and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Alex moved to Washington DC in 1991 when her husband John left his job as Director of the World Development Movement to take up a post there in international development.  In Washington DC she worked for more than ten years as the administrator of Alpha courses, which cover the basics of the Christian faith. The family returned to the UK in 2008.  Alex died on November 26 2010. She is survived
by her husband John, sons Peter and Andrew and daughter-in-law Emily.

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Tags: Alex Mitchell, Third Way


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