Published by the Church of God (Seventh Day), the Bible Advocate is one of the oldest Christian magazines still in print in the United States. It began in 1863 under the title The Hope of Israel. Since then, it has been the product of editors’ and staff members’ dedication and sacrifice.
The magazine started in the hearts of faithful Church of God brethren in Michigan who decided that believers of a common Christian faith should publish a paper to share the gospel. Gilbert Cranmer, an active preacher and evangelist in those early days, was instrumental in helping start The Hope and served as editor for several months.
The first issue (dated August 10, 1863, Hartford, Michigan) was mailed to fewer than forty homes. The Hope quickly became an avenue of communication among like-minded, Sabbath-observing brethren searching for fellowship and eager to share the truths of Scripture. Within a short time, this fledgling paper was distributed to homes in eighteen states. During and after the Civil War, many who received the paper couldn’t pay the seventy-five-cent subscription price, but it was sent even if they couldn’t pay.
After production in Michigan for two years, The Hope was discontinued for a time. Brethren in Marion, Iowa, connected through their support and writings, formed a publishing association and resumed its production in May 1866.
Over many decades, committed personnel kept the work of The Hope going. It eventually was printed in Stanberry, Missouri, at the Church of God Publishing House. In 1972 the Publishing House, renamed Bible Advocate Press (1965), was moved to Denver, Colorado. Also in 1972, the magazine’s name, which had been changed to Bible Advocate and Herald of the Coming Kingdom, was changed again to Bible Advocate — its fifth and final name.
The Bible Advocate has been more than a publication that presents the Church’s teachings. It has served as one of its most effective missionaries, establishing indigenous churches in numerous countries around the world.
One hundred fifty-plus years is a long time for a magazine to be around. Innumerable changes have taken place, including digital editions on the Internet, postings on social media, and Spanish translation. But two things haven’t changed: the grace of God through Christ and the truths of God’s Word. These encapsulate the message that the Bible Advocate endeavors to publish till Jesus returns.