For forty years, under the able leadership of editor-minister Daniel A. Poling, the now 93-year-old Christian Herald was known as a bastion of conservative, evangelical Christianity. When Poling stepped down in 1966, two years before his death at 83, more than the masthead began to change.

Ford Stewart became editor, and in 1968 Poling’s nephew David, who had joined the magazine in 1964, became its president. The present editor, Kenneth L. Wilson, took over in 1967, and Laurence S. Heely, Jr., became publisher in early 1968.

The tone of the Herald, the nation’s largest interdenominational Protestant monthly, shifted rather markedly toward a liberal theology and a conciliar ecumenism during those years. Circulation, once at the 400,000 mark, began to slip. And rightly or wrongly, David Poling, urbane, talented, and a man with many an iron in journalistic fires, was both praised and assailed for the Herald’s changing image.

This month Poling resigned, severing formal contact with the magazine except for a position on its board of directors. And last month Heely, the publisher, resigned after eighteen years at the Herald. He now sells religious lists for an advertising brokerage firm in New York. About twenty-five Herald employees have been laid off in the past year, and circulation, by a planned reduction, now hovers just over 300,000.

Sources close to the Herald say Heely and Poling were “let go by mutual consent,” but both they and editor Wilson say the departures were strictly voluntary. And there is disagreement as to whether the theological change in the magazine is a root cause of financial difficulties and masthead turnover.

Poling, reached at his White Plains, New York, home by telephone, said his leaving was “not an ...

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