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It is with a measure of trepidation and excitement that I write my first report as editor of Luke’s Journal for the CMDFA board.
I have been part of the editorial team for Luke’s Journal since 2015 when I responded to a request for drafting “tasters” of Luke’s Journal articles for the website, http://www.cmdfa.org.au. Since that time I have had the privilege of working with John Foley and Paul Mercer as sub-editor, gradually learning the ropes of how to produce the Journal. John retired in 2016 after 11 years of service, and Paul finished up in 2019 after 14 years at the helm. Tributes to both of these outstanding men can be found in the December edition of their year of retirement. Knowing the enormous amount of work that is involved in each issue, I take my hat off to them for their prodigious work ethic, their longevity as editors, and the breadth of their vision and scholarliness.
With Paul’s retirement looming over the last couple of years, it became clear that the amount of work to continue producing a journal of quality required a larger team. Over the course of the last three years, we have gradually expanded the size of our team to include 10-15 editors, and 10-20 proofreaders. The core editorial team includes Winnie Chen, Adrianus Thio, Annetta Tsang, Georgie Hoddle, Landy Wu, Dawn Choi, Arielle Tay, Kristen Dang and, recently, Eleasa Sieh. This year, Nathan Combs has joined us from the Board, and has been pivotal in helping us move forward in our desire to transition from print to online.
“The team are keen to distribute the Journal more widely among the Fellowship. We are convinced of the value of the content, both spiritually and clinically…”
Unanimously, the team are keen to distribute the Journal more widely among the Fellowship. We are convinced of the value of the content, both spiritually and clinically, particularly to those who are new to their careers. As a practical resource, Luke’s Journal is the only English speaking journal of its kind in Oceania, and has a scope and scale larger than our English and American counterparts. The essential underlying theme of the Journal has been to capture the way members of CMDFA have integrated their work and faith. The Journal shares the stories of this journey and the intellectual drivers that have sustained it – both medically and theologically. However, hard copy limits its readership and dissemination. Although it is now available as a PDF on issuu.com and through cmdfa.org.au, it is difficult to read electronically, and neither searchable nor shareable by article. The editorial team are committed to maintaining the quality and depth of the Journal, and also to make it more accessible in digital medium.
Each of the team brings various skills and passions to Luke’s Journal. In particular, Adrianus Thio has been instrumental with strategic skills in vision planning. He put together a proposal for EQUIP in February and subsequently met with Associate Professor Andrew Cole who has overseen a similar transition from print to electronic medium for the Australian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. More specific plans and quotes were presented by myself to the Board in June. Following that, a survey was distributed with the release of Hot Topics #2 asking for feedback from the members regarding electronic medium. We received a surprisingly high response from approximately 125 people, with the majority preferring digital and a small number (<30) requesting print. This encourages us to continue to develop the Journal in accessible electronic format. We envision that email and Facebook will be the main vehicles for its dissemination.
We have been acutely aware of the significant cost of producing Luke’s Journal to the Fellowship (approximately $6000 per issue). Transitioning from print to digital will relieve much of that pressure. For those who prefer print, there is an option to use a print-on-demand service such as https://www. blurb.com/getting-started?tab=tabmagazines at around $40 per copy. Ideally, we would like the Luke’s Journal website to be embedded in the CMDFA website and formatted professionally by a web designer, but there are both time and financial constraints to this end. In the meantime, a low-cost proposal will be presented by Nathan Combs to the Board, with current staff (Ivan Smith) and volunteers to manage production.
Winnie Chen and Kristen Dang have worked together over 2019 to develop a prototype website using WordPress. They are overseeing the first issue Laughter is the Best Medicine going ‘live’ pending Board approval. Kristen has also been involved in developing templates and publishing/IT processes. Arielle Tay has developed a Facebook page for the Journal and actively calls for submissions and promotes the Journal across the states. Annetta Tsang is overseeing the Breath of Life issue to be published May 2020. Eleasa Sieh hopes to be doing similarly for the Everybody Dies issue to be published September 2020.
This year we have made extensive use of Facebook Messenger for day-to-day communication and Google Hangouts for monthly editorial team meetings. With members from WA, NT, SA, QLD, NSW and VIC this has been remarkably successful. Face-to-face Hangouts have been helpful for cohesion, as well as personal connection biannually at National Conference for those who are able to make it. Hangout attendance prioritises members’ relevance to the agenda, so there are rarely more than six present, with capacity for 25. Facebook Messenger has been a wonderful tool for getting things done and discussed easily by whoever is available.
Sadly, the Winton Award for young writers was not given this year at IMPACT due to lack of eligible writers. We are hopeful that this will change in the coming issues, as we seek submissions from writers through Facebook and personal connection. Greater use of electronic medium, and the ability to share individual articles should also attract more involvement from our younger members, and possibly promote CMDFA as an organisation more widely amongst Christian health professionals.
“We continue to encourage balance in content and argument, respecting the open, evangelical core values of our Fellowship.”
For the future:
1. We would like to balance the Journal with a mix of both scholarly and personally reflective articles. Currently many of the articles are “heavy” and information-dense, at odds with the culture of shorter articles that are scanned briefly in a world of information overload. With a larger team, we are gradually gaining a broader mix of writers who will hopefully be able to write appropriately for this changing paradigm.
2. We plan to continue with a thematic path for each issue as this lends itself to stimulating thought and discussion more deeply around a topic. Writers are more likely to write when presented with a theme and a facet suited to them, and it stimulates wider reading around each topic. The themes are designed to be reflective of current issues to promote relevance and a Christian response to societal conversation. In the future, we would like to encourage print versions of Luke’s Journal to be held in libraries, and thematic issues are pragmatic.
3. We continue to encourage balance in content and argument, respecting the open, evangelical core values of our Fellowship.
4. We hope to adapt older content to modern searchability and shareability, maximising access to the wisdom from ages past and building on it.
5. The shared Google file, Luke’s Journal Manual, is helpful for continuity and development across the team. As we move forward, we hope to streamline processes and improve utilities like:
b. an author base from the CMDFA email list,
c. templates for writing/ biographies/ referencing,
d. disseminating information strategically via CMDFA Facebook groups.
e. Paul Mercer is keen to develop resources to support writing for Luke’s Journal and will have more time to do this as he steps down from his editorial role.
f. I am canvassing for three to four sub-editors who are able to oversee one edition each year for several years in a row.
As these processes develop, the scope of the Journal will become more robust and sustainable.
6. With a larger team, we would also like to devote some time to vision planning and direction for Luke’s Journal, ideally in conjunction with the Board. Adrianus Thio is meeting with Dr David Strong for more specific vision direction which we will discuss over 2020 and Nathan Combs will liaise with the Board. We welcome input from the Board as it reviews the mission and direction of the Fellowship as a whole, and are eager for ideas as to the place of Luke’s Journal in the development and encouragement of our Fellowship.
In 2016, Paul Mercer made this comment, “In this Journal we document the joining of work and faith in the power of a resurrection life and so we move forward hopefully.” It is this God-given hope that takes the journey of the Journal forward, and I am excited and encouraged to move into the future with a strong and developing team.
Catherine is a part-time GP with a passion for encouraging others to continue firmly in their Christian faith whilst embedding spiritual healthcare into everyday consultation. She lives in Newcastle where she is actively involved in the local CMDFA fellowship and mentoring medical students.