Saying goodbye to a national treasure

Former staff share what Eternity has meant to them

Former Eternity staff writers reflect on how this publication has changed them professionally and personally.

John Sandeman

Founder and former editor of Eternity, and creator of The Other Cheek blog

John Sandeman

Eternity could have been filled with ‘naughty vicar stories’. But that was never the intent. Instead, out of a conviction that God, being a good God, is doing great things, we could run a mostly good news operation.

“Inverting traditional media tropes, we could have missionaries and church planters as the heroes, and instead of writing about a socially constructed reality, we could affirm the Bible. Instead of conflict stories, we could run testimonies. But we would also include a few warts because we needed to show we were reflecting reality: a sinless church would not have needed a saviour.

“As sales whiz David Maegraith and I launched Eternity in 2009, it was with a conviction that Australian Christians needed to hear what each other were doing, and that would encourage them, knowing that God had been working across the land …

“I got a spectacular 13 years of running Eternity, inventing my job and running with it. That’s a long time in media, and I can’t be anything but grateful.”

Read John’s full farewell message here

Kaley Payne

Former deputy editor of Eternity and now producer and editor of Undeceptions podcast

“I started working for Eternity when it began its online form – back in 2011 when it became part of the Bible Society Australia group.

“It seemed a gift from God – this idea that I could get paid for meeting amazing people on fire for God, and writing about their story so more people could feel that passion.

“Ten years later, the job had expanded the horizon of my Christian life in so many ways …

“From an Aboriginal Christian leader trying to figure out her place in the world, to the wife of an executed prisoner trying to rebuild her life, to a man who dedicated his life to bringing the Bible to lonely people in lonely places, one thing stays the same: God moves hearts. It is God who inspires, God who gives the gifts, God who moves. We need only respond.

“It has been my privilege to report when people do.”

Read Kaley’s full farewell article after a decade with Eternity here

Ben McEachen

Former Eternity deputy editor and now host of Hope Mornings on 103.2

Ben McEachen“The world is a beautiful, ugly place. The same is true for how people across our world attempt to live for God, as they profess to imitate Jesus Christ. Eternity aimed to cover this spectrum, boldly spotlighting the worst elements of Christianity right through to the radiant joy of God’s ongoing activity, everywhere.

“Such a willingness to cover the positive and not-so-positive of following Jesus came with inherent tension and turmoil. Alongside the online or in-the-pews debates sparked by theological, Scriptural or cultural minefields that Eternity approached, our talented and considered team wrestled with what to raise.

“My own faith was most nourished at Eternity through the varied testimonies of believers from every corner of the broad church.” – Ben McEachen

“As someone who is conflict-averse, I learned a lot at Eternity about how to pursue and present the truth. Just because it is uncomfortable or upsetting to raise something doesn’t mean it should not be raised. On the other hand, my own faith was most nourished at Eternity through the varied testimonies of believers from every corner of the broad church built upon THE cornerstone, Jesus.

“Quite something to be able to work where there is an eagerness to promote the mundane and marvellous of the love of God in Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, in the lives of you and me.”

Kylie Beach

Former writer & social media coordinator at Eternity, and now a media PR specialist at Wild Hive

“When I began working at Eternity News in 2017, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I loved writing and I loved news. What could possibly go wrong?

“The next four years were a roller coaster of stories and emotions as I learned the craft of journalism and unlearned my idealism.

“Tasked with capturing news about and for Christians, I got up close and personal with both humanity’s brokenness and its beauty. Sometimes, I got too close to the story and fumbled the pass. Other times, I managed to catch the story and pin it to the page.

“But even when I was ‘writing good’, there were too many stories for the hours in the day and the days in the week.

“Stories about good works, worthy causes, tragedies and opportunities to make a difference. Stories I believed then and still believe now really mattered to God – that lovely guy who keeps his eye on the sparrow.

“I tried to write them all and failed miserably. I managed around 480 that made it to publishing, along with co-producing a podcast series, running Eternity’s social media and sending out our weekly email.

“It wasn’t a bad innings. Yet, almost two years after leaving Eternity, there are still so many stories I wish I’d got to.

“I feel deeply grateful to everyone who shared their stories with me … What a privilege!” – Kylie Beach

“Now, as I reflect on Eternity coming to a close, I feel deeply grateful to everyone who shared their stories with me during that time. What a privilege!

“I am also grateful for the remarkable people I worked alongside at Eternity, many of whom continue to inspire me with their story-chasing ways.

“Rebecca Abbott, Anne Lim, Ben McEachen, and Kaley Payne have become close friends, and I continue to talk to them most weeks. I loved starting my days listening to them pitch stories. Congratulations to Bec and Anne for having the grace to steward Eternity through its latest iteration so wholeheartedly.

“I want to acknowledge the tenacity of founding editor John Sandeman and thank him for inviting a Pentecostal woman to enter his fold of Sydney Anglican writers. I suspect you may regret that decision, John, but I remain thankful.

“I want to pay special tribute to the courage of former BSA CEO Greg Clarke, who recognised the value of Christian media, agreed to take Eternity into BSA’s portfolio, and respected its editorial independence. I honour your vision and boldness, Greg.

“Some provided significant care for our team that deserves acknowledgment: Ben McEachen and Kaley Payne, whose daily oversight, encouragement and leadership as deputy editors kept the whole thing running; Melissa Lipsett, who had the gift of fostering harmony; and Penny Mulvey, who nurtured us when we were bruised, and always believed our work was valuable.

“Finally, I want to thank everyone at BSA, our wider family, support network and friends, noting in particular those who created videos, audio, design and other elements that made our storytelling so much better.

“The truth is, I was always going to come up short of fulfilling my dreams at Eternity. Writing all the stories was never an especially realistic goal. You know what, though? The failure was worth it.”

Penny Mulvey

Former acting editor of Eternity and now chief communications officer at the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

Penny Mulvey

“John Sandeman started something amazing – an independent Australian-focused Christian (with an evangelical flavour) newspaper. John is passionate about everything he does. When he commits to something, he is all in. And that is how Eternity started. Around his dining room table. All in!

“Most of us came along later, enjoying the ride. Sadly, the ride is coming to an end. But it has definitely been fun while it lasted. Eternity has provided a platform for many Christian writers, theologians, reflective thinkers, storytellers, news-makers, and provocateurs (especially John). What a privilege it has been.

“I never take for granted the opportunity to write something of interest, challenge, value and hopefully of worth. It is a privilege we writers should never squander. We get to talk to fascinating people. It is our job to bring out that ‘fascinating’ by asking questions, by going down the rabbit hole, for asking one question, and then another and another, until gradually the story takes shape.

“I have written, according to Eternity’s web page, 80 published stories for the online Aussie Christian publication. Wow! And I have loved writing every one of those stories.

“I doff my metaphorical hat to all Eternity writers and readers. No publication can exist without its readers. Thank you! I will continue to write. Of course. And I know John will definitely keep writing. It is in our blood. This is our creative outlet.

“Thank you, Bible Society, for providing the platform. I am grateful.”