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Last fall newly appointed editor James Bratt bid a fond farewell to Roy Anker as Roy completed his term of distinguished service to this journal. Now it is my turn to say another goodbye, this time to Leanne Van Dyk, whom I succeed as one of the three editors of Perspectives. Like Roy, so also Leanne has been with this journal for just over a decade now, which means Leanne has had something to do with about 100 issues, single-handedly editing three or four issues per year since joining the editorial troika in 2000. Clearly, Leanne has shaped Perspectives in ways that will long endure, leaving behind an outstanding legacy of Reformed thought in these pages. In addition to providing an excellent critical eye for assessing the contributions of other writers, Leanne’s own articles in Perspectives have displayed the wonderful fruit of her keen mind as well as her ability to exegete the biblical text in ways that make old passages seem new.
But as with all journalistic enterprises, most of the heavy lifting takes place well out of the average reader’s line of vision. For all the excellent up-front work Leanne did, some of her best contributions have been behind the scenes. Much of the handson work involved in getting Perspectives published takes place near where Leanne works, so Leanne was always the point person to double-check on this or that detail for each issue. Since Perspectives is a labor of love, no one logs how many hours he or she puts in. But I suspect we would all be surprised to see how much time Leanne devoted to this work. As a testament to her devotion and selfless character, however, probably no one would be more surprised than Leanne herself.
Leanne is preternaturally incapable of doing anything half-way, and hence we have often heard her commenting (but never complaining) about how deeply involved she was at any given moment in multiple endeavors. Yet at board meetings, when discussing new ideas or troubleshooting problems, Leanne would so often say, “I think I can follow up on that. Just figure on it.” That’s the spirit by which a volunteer journal goes forward, and Leanne embodied that spirit in a delightful way.
But Leanne’s ultimate contribution goes beyond this or that specific task. Along with her colleagues, Leanne led the way in setting a tone for the entire Board of Editors. In 2000 when she asked me to become Roy Anker’s successor as Review Editor, Leanne assured me I would enjoy being on the board for lots of reasons, not the least of which was “We laugh a lot.” When I returned home after my first board meeting–my ribs still hurting from two days’ worth of guffawing–I knew the truth of what Leanne had said. But I learned something else, too: people dare to laugh heartily with one another only if they genuinely trust each another. Without that deeper connection, laughter tends to be either the surface titters of an anonymous cocktail party or, worse, something that can feel threatening if a person fears he might get laughed at.
Leanne created trust by being careful to deepen the board tradition of “Check-In.” On the evening of the first day, after supper and before a time of worship, each member would share what had been happening in life since last the board met. At my first meeting, I was astonished at the openness with which both great joys and deep hurts were laid out. But it took only five minutes to realize that the trust within the group was the reason behind the honesty. It took only a few more seconds to connect the dots that led back to Leanne’s leadership in creating just such bonds of fellowship. When members of a group have this kind of relationship, inevitably the quality of what they produce is enhanced.
For that, and so much more, we who work on Perspectives, and those of you who are so good as to read these pages every month, owe Leanne a debt of gratitude. Along with my new editorial colleagues, I hope to live up to the standards that have been set by Leanne, Roy, David, and others. But before I move forward into what is a new challenge for me, I take a heartfelt look back at my friend Leanne to thank her for all she has given to me, and to us all, these past years.