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Happy Charter Day!

Happy Charter Day!

“The Christian Board of Publication was chartered in March 1911.  R. A. Long had purchased the Christian Publishing Company from J. H. Garrison in December 1909 bringing the Christian-Evangelist into the “brotherhood publishing house.”  For the first time Disciples had a publishing house and a national journal that belonged to Disciples rather than to a private publisher.  Long was named president of the self-perpetuating board and J. H. Garrison remained as editor of the Christian-Evangelist.  CBP, as it was called, began producing curriculum materials for the congregations in 1920 and was the major source of book publishing for Disciples throughout the twentieth century.  It would become known as Bethany Press and ultimately as Chalice Press.”
The Disciples: A Struggle for Reformation, Second Edition by D. Duane Cummins, to be published in 2023.

On March 8, 1911, 112 years ago today as I write this, R.A. Long filed the paperwork with the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, that legally created the Christian Board of Publication. Chalice has many names, but our original name, and indeed our legal name, is the Christian Board of Publication.

Discipliana, the journal of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, identifies R.A. Long as the president and owner of the Long-Bell Lumber Company in Kansas City. The journal connects Long to many denominational causes, including National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. and a men’s ministry. Two years before our incorporation, Christian Men magazine was launched. Between that publication and the Christian-Evangelist, our publishing house was born.

Over the years, we’ve produced print resources such as hymnals, curriculum, confirmation materials, magazines, music, church camp curriculum. But publication doesn’t begin to capture everything CBP has sold over the years.  A 215-page catalog from 1952 includes:

  • a record player connecting into your church’s PA system.
  • customizable commemorative plates for your congregation’s fundraising efforts.
  • baptismal garments “designed for beauty, protection, dignity.”
  • film projectors and screens for classrooms.
  • pew cushions, available in nine colors and your choice of velour or mohair covering.

I bet that if you had this catalog and keys to every closet in your church building, eventually you would find a match.

Like church itself, CBP has changed a lot over the years. CBP is more commonly known as Chalice Press these days, and over the last year we’re simplifying, using simply Chalice. What Mr. Long knew as the Christian Brotherhood has in part evolved into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the denomination with whom we’re still connected to this day.

Chalice doesn’t sell anything with a choice of velour or mohair. One thing that has remains constant is that we provide resources for Disciples laypeople, pastors, congregations and educators, creating a connection between the 3,600+ congregations, our 350,000 members, and our dozens of institutions that serve the church.

These days, we sell ideas that have been translated into a shareable format, mostly ink on paper but also electrons on a screen. We share ideas that change the world, one word at a time, from authors whose experiences, insights, and inspiration welcome everybody in God’s creation to find our common ground.

Someday I’ll get to meet Mr. Long, and I hope he’ll be proud of what CBP has accomplished and our impact on the world and our faith. And when the heavenly version of March 8 rolls around, we’ll celebrate our Charter Day with our favorite CBP or Chalice publication.

Brad Lyons has served as president and publisher at CBP/Chalice since 2011. 

The photo at the top of the page is the cover of the 1952-53 General Catalog of the Christian Board of Publication. If you have any idea who is in this photo, what church is pictured (it may be in the St. Louis area), or who "Birch" might be, let us know!

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