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With this issue, we introduce a new approach to The Back Page. A variety of contributors will offer slices of life in ministry that reflect the essential nature of the task. We welcome your contributions.

It was at a West Coast pastors conference where I first met a Puritan, a seemingly joyful one at that. His name was Eugene Peterson.

I studied Puritans in college and had been thoroughly impressed They were vibrant, God-driven people who forsook family and familiar surroundings to embark across the threatening Atlantic to establish "a city set on a hill," a Christian society that all the world would admire and emulate.

Weary of compromises the church had made through the centuries, they longed to see it purified. Despite popular misconceptions, they were characterized less by a studied dreariness than by a steady passion for Christ and his church.

I observed this same passion when Eugene spoke at the conference. The first thing I noticed was Eugene himself, thin as a man on a diet of locusts ...

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