Eva G. Stimson continues as editor of the magazine, with John Sniffen as associate editor.
Lawrence was raised Jewish in New York City around the world of publishing; his father was one of the co-founders of the prestigious Harry N. Abrams art book publishing house. He studied economics and finance at New York University and received a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington.
His interest in Christianity was sparked when his partners in an advertising agency asked him to be godfather of their daughter. “I took it very seriously and helped her learn her Catholic catechism,” Lawrence recalled, “and Jesus kind of slipped in the side door.” Lawrence converted to Christianity in 1989.
“But I felt quickly that I was being called to something deeper,” he said, and in 1992 entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland and was ordained to the priesthood in 1996. During the next 12 years he served as pastor of several parishes in central Illinois.
“The last four or five years I’ve felt pretty battered by all the stuff going on in the Catholic church and have been pretty put off by increasingly exclusionary dogma,” he said. “I wanted to continue to contribute to the Lord’s service but didn’t know how.”
Lawrence said he also thought he could always “fall back” on his previous experience in law, advertising, and publishing, but then the Presbyterians Today opportunity offered him the chance to combine his business skills with ministry. “Suddenly, I no longer feel like a square peg in a round hole,” he said.
Jon Brown, director for Mission Interpretation in the General Assembly’s Communications and Funds Development ministry area, agrees.
“Jeffrey brings to the magazine a creative entrepreneurial spirit mixed with a unique theological and pastoral sensitivity. His responsibilities will include strategic visioning, business and staff management, and shaping the magazine to be a flagship media venue for sharing the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to an ever-growing audience. We expect great things from Jeffrey and the magazine in this exciting time in the life of the church.”