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LifeWay magazine for seniors turns 25 with 335,000 readers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In 1977, Jimmy Carter became president, the New York Yankees won the World Series and Mature Living was born. In 2002, George W. Bush is president, the New York Yankees lost the 2001 World Series, and Mature Living will turn 25, a milestone anniversary for a magazine geared toward readers a few years past their 25th birthday.

“It marks a milestone that the magazine is able to sustain and still attract generations of readers,” said David Seay, the new editor-in-chief of the magazine that reaches 335,000 readers every month. “The circulation figures from the very beginning exceeded what they expected.”

When the magazine began production in April 1977, circulation potential for the first issue was estimated at 40,000. But it actually reached 66,643, Seay said.

Since then, the LifeWay Christian Resources-produced magazine focusing on seniors continued to grow and evolve, said Judy Pregel, senior editor of Mature Living.

“Most of the early articles were nostalgic, and while that’s still included, there’s much more,” she said.

Mature Living now regularly includes articles on issues such as grandparenting, travel, gardening and crafts. Encouraging readers to maintain an active lifestyle is becoming increasingly important as baby boomers move toward the senior generation, Pregel said.

“The senior adult population is the largest growing segment of our population today, an important group of people — they’ve been through the Second World War and some of them grew up in the Depression, but today we’re addressing needs that I think younger seniors are facing,” she said.

Seay sees the changing face of the senior generation both as a challenge and an opportunity for Mature Living.

“The biggest challenge we face is making sure we minister to both the current generation of senior adults and to the baby boomers,” he said. “On Jan., 1, 2001, baby boomers started turning 55.

He said they will have a different attitude about the senior years.

“They will be more active than their parents, not ready to sit and rock away those years. We’ll need to find a way to meet the needs of both generations.”

Mature Living celebrates its 25th anniversary in April with a special cover featuring the original cover, plus previous anniversary issues and selected covers. Well-known Christians such as Dave Thomas, Andy Griffith, Bill Gaither and Donna Douglas have graced the magazine’s cover, some of which will be featured on the cover of the anniversary issue.

The anniversary issue will also mark Seay’s first issue as editor-in-chief. He is the magazine’s fifth editor-in-chief, following in the footsteps of John Warren Steen, Jack Gulledge, Randall Apon and Al Shackleford. Seay has worked at LifeWay for 18 years, previously serving as an editor of Sunday School leadership magazines, Growing Churches magazine and various adult Sunday School materials.

“I’m really excited about it because the reader audience is so new and so different from what I’ve been editing,” said Seay, who counts himself among the numbers of senior adults.

“Plus, I’ve been working with senior adults for several years in my church as a teacher and as a department director,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed working with them, so this is an added bonus for me to get to work with them in a different way.”

Seay said he plans to take at least a year to learn about the magazine and its audience before he makes any changes.

“Any changes we make after that, hopefully, will be solely for the purpose of more effectively ministering to senior adults,” he said. “I know one thing I will not be changing. After I was named the new editor-in-chief, I attended my first Chautauqua at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in October. Without exception, everyone who approached me said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t take out the recipes!’ I got the message very quickly.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CELEBRATING 25 YEARS and WRITING FOR SENIORS.

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  • Mandy Crow