Outgoing executive editor will join church’s public affairs and religious liberty arm.
Published on: 11-28-2022
After a quarter century of editorial involvement with Adventist Review Ministries, the last 16 years as executive editor, Bill Knott said he is ready for his next challenge.
“It became clear to me that I needed to make a life-giving choice,” Knott said about his decision to not seek reappointment to the media ministry position. “I needed to move in a direction that brought joy and meaning to what may very well be the last act of my career. And I wanted to do that to assure a dignified transition between myself and whoever might follow,” he said.
On January 1, 2023, Knott will become an associate director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department, a post to which he was elected on October 9, 2022, during the denomination’s Annual Council.
Justin Kim, currently an associate director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries for the world church, will become the new editor of the Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, succeeding Knott.
“I think the Adventist Church deserves a journal, a media platform, as good as the people I’ve been blessed to know and serve over 43 years,” Knott said. “It’s a remarkably wonderful group of people.”
It’s also an expanding, changing group of people: There were 15.6 million baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2007, when Knott became editor. Today membership stands at roughly 22 million, a nearly 50 percent increase. Serving such a large and diverse community—most Adventists reside outside of the United States, where the movement began and is headquartered—has meant changes in the way Adventist Review Ministries presents its message.
Print magazines still exist for Adventist Review and Adventist World, the latter birthed in 2005 with the idea of providing a unifying periodical for a global church community. But electronic media—the Internet, podcasts, video, and even the WhatApp mobile communications platform—now provide important, virtually instant links for news, information, and ministry.
“You’re really out there in search of an audience that you think will see the values that you have communicated and the content you’ve curated,” Knott explained.
Delivering to the audience for printed magazines has become a physical and financial challenge, he said, pointing to recurring issues in getting Adventist World to members in East Africa.
“We looked at it every way we could; for years we tried pilot projects in Tanzania and Kenya,” he said. “We looked at the logistics, and it looked like it might almost bankrupt us. But then, during the pandemic, up pops an opportunity to use the WhatsApp platform to translate a full magazine into Swahili, [and add] additional content.”
That switch has brought Adventist content to millions who speak Swahili—a cohort that comprises 11 percent of world church membership—at a highly reasonable cost, he said.
A Different Pastorate
When William G. Johnsson, his predecessor as editor, first invited Knott, then pastor of the campus church at Walla Walla University, to become an associate editor, Knott admitted some misgivings.
“I felt distinctly called to pastoral ministry, and 43 years later I still do,” Knott said. “The biggest conundrum of my life was when the invitation came to be an editor, and I couldn’t see initially [a] continuity between 18 years of pastoral ministry and the opportunity to be on the editorial team of a major magazine. It was only when I figured out that this was a different way of pastoring that I began to understand what God was doing and why it made sense to make that transition.”