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Rejoice! Cover designer retires



Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Publishing House joint release
For immediate release
July 19, 2005
-by Byron Rempel-Burkholder

Waterloo, Ont. — One thing that has distinguished Rejoice! over the last 33 years is the trust editors have had in John Hiebert to come up with cover designs that were seasonally appropriate, fresh, and consistent with the inspirational purpose of the magazine.

Hiebert, who last year retired from his work as a designer with Mennonite Press in Newton, Kan., created the images free hand in the early days, moving to computer enhancement in the 1990s. In his 33 years with Rejoice!, he says, not once did an editor reject the covers he proposed. His designs majored on nature – flowers, leaves, snowflakes, birds, and the like – but occasionally reflected holiday items, such as Advent ornaments.

To visual designs he thought ahead to the season going through old magazines for inspiration. "All of a sudden an image would click in my mind and I would say, 'That's one I could use for Rejoice!' That's what I liked about doing Rejoice! It was the one job I had complete freedom to go as the Spirit would lead."

The responses Hiebert received – both in his own community of Newton, but occasionally from readers far away – was overwhelmingly positive. The exception, he notes with a chuckle, was when he used a chicken theme one year. "They asked what was going on in my mind," he remembers. Even the chickens, however, were consistent with the celebration of life, creation, and faith that came to characterize Hiebert's covers.

Hiebert has designed Rejoice! covers since 1972, when the Mennonite Brethren, General Conference Mennonites and the Mennonite Church began cooperatively producing the magazine. The quarterly publication currently has a circulation of 14,000 in the United States and Canada (12,000 Mennonite Church, and 2,000 Mennonite Brethren).

This fall, the devotional magazine Rejoice! will launch a new design that features photographic images on the cover, a new logo, a slightly larger typeface and several more pages for inspirational stories and poetry.

Rejoice!'s new look was created by Merrill Miller of Scottdale, Pa., a house designer for Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN). Miller will continue to design the covers, while Sandra Johnson, also of MPN, will do the interior layout.

Added features for the fall issue include two "Divine Touch" stories – one about a father struggling to come to terms with his adult son's doubts about faith, and the other about a woman experiencing God's guidance in a vocational shift. The issue also features a poem reflecting on the terminal illness of a family member and a poetic reflection on discipleship by Menno Simons.

Rejoice! is co-published by Faith & Life Resources, a division of MPN, and Kindred Productions, the publishing arm of the Mennonite Brethren churches.

Byron Rempel-Burkholder is an editor with Faith & Life Resources, a division of Mennonite Publishing Network.