Harvard University was not always the most comfortable place to be an evangelical, but my eight years there were deeply enriched by the thoughtful evangelical believers who filled and surrounded the place. My wife and I attended Park Street Church, long considered one of the flagship evangelical churches of New England. Born out of the Second Great Awakening in 1809, Park Street has demonstrated a deep commitment to biblical faithfulness for more than two centuries, even as it played a role in furthering the abolition movement, birthing the aid group World Relief, and stewarding vast numbers of students and academics flowing through the city. Charles Finney, William Lloyd Garrison, and Billy Graham all preached in the storied sanctuary on the edge of the Boston Common. Harold John Ockenga was a pastor there, even as he helped to found Christianity Today, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Fuller and Gordon-Conwell seminaries.
Over the years in which my wife and I attended Park Street, we grew deeply familiar with the teaching of Daniel Harrell, a pastor at the church. Beauty in the service of Christ is its own apologetic, and Daniel preached in a manner that was beautiful and biblical in equal measure. His sermons were a testimony to a subtle mind, a gift for writing and storytelling, a deep passion for the body of Christ and its work in the world, and a soul haunted by the mysteries of faith. When he preached a series on the saints and great theologians of the church and what they mean for us today, he showed his capacious learning. When he preached a series about a month in which he and others strove to live according to the guidelines of Leviticus, he showed his creativity and his ability to invite others into difficult conversations.
When I learned Mark Galli would soon retire from his position as editor in chief, Daniel was top of mind for the role. Having devoted over 30 years to church ministry, he understands the situation of the church as it strives to serve its Savior in a rapidly shifting landscape. With a masters in divinity and a doctorate under his belt, Daniel brings a training in biblical interpretation and sound scholarship that will serve the magazine well. With the heart of a shepherd, a masterful pen, a subtle mind, and the wisdom that is only won through hardship, he will be an outstanding editor in chief as we strive to stand for the truth in enormously challenging and polarized times.
As I explained in my last presidents note, CT is recommitting to its legacy of extraordinary journalistic storytelling alongside deep biblical teaching. Daniels first editorial for the magazine is found in this issue. I hope you enjoy learning from him as much as I have.
Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_.
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