The Methodist Recorder is become a full-colour publication for the first time as it enters the 150th year of its history.
Founded in 1861 with the mission ‘To tell the truth and love’, the weekly newspaper for practising Methodists has unveiled its first major redesign in 10 years.
In addition to full colour, the revamped publication has introduced a raft of changes aimed at give it a more contemporary feel with new fonts, logos and editorial sections.
Despite the number of Methodists in the UK falling to an estimated 300,000, Moira Sleight, editor of the Recorder, told Press Gazette the paper is still read as far afield as Zimbabwe and Australia as it approaches its 150th birthday next year.
The first edition of the Methodist Recorder and General Christian Chronicle appeared on Thursday, April 4, consisting of eight pages, and priced at one penny. The paper was written, administered and printed on Fleet Street – which it called home for most of the 19th and 20th Centuries – with its six Wesleyan minister founders forming themselves into an “editorial council” to oversee the title.
In June, 1903, the paper published a best-selling supplement commemorating the bicentenary of the birth of John Wesley, then in 1911 it published its jubilee edition, including an feature celebrating “50 years in the business”.
Recent stories to have graced the title’s pages include a piece about missionary Merfyn Temple, who flew to Zimbabwe to protest against President Mugabe, and a story from the 1980s about apartheid critic Reverand Frederic Mason’s escape from a South African prison.
Sleight said: “The Methodist Recorder has been serving Methodists for nearly a century and a half and this redesign reflects our ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our readers in a relevant and refreshing way.”
Despite circulation of the newspaper falling to an uncertified 20,000, Sleight said that around 100,000 were believed to read the title each week.
She said: “We’re not immune to a decline in circulation. We are operating in the same world as secular newspapersâ€¦ [But] I think in the market at the moment niche products are a very good place to be.
“While people can get so much of the daily news from the web and daily papers, for our specialist take on things they can only come to us.
“If people want Methodist news it’s the Methodist Recorder they need to come to.”