Church publication gets acclimatized to new home in East York

Jocelyn Bell’s work is figuratively and literally on the move. As the managing editor of The United Church Observer, she has seen both the content of her publication and its office location change.

Readers of the most recent editions of The United Church Observer can read stories about becoming a vegan or about the daily meditations of First Nations traditions.

“(With) our tag line ‘ethical living, justice and faith,’ there’s a heavy emphasis on how we are in the world,” Bell said. “That’s kind of how we express our faith at this place.”

Bell has worked for The Observer for close to 11 years. These days its writers specialize in stories that are life-style based rather than focused on religion only.

“Things like taking the Bible literally or saying, ‘The word of God must be followed,’ are not really a part of the United Church,” she said. “We’re more oriented towards social justice and care for the poor.”

And while the approach to writing and editing the publication has moved, so has its actual office space. Last year, the Canadian publication was forced to move from its original location at 478 Huron St. downtown to a new home at 177 Danforth Ave.

Now settled in East York, in her spare time, Bell explores the area.

“We’re really excited to be in this neighbourhood,” Bell said. “We’re discovering new restaurants and shops. Where should you get a quiche and that kind of stuff, it’s kind of been fun.”

The United Church Observer, previously named The Christian Guardian, was originally published in 1829. It is North America’s oldest, continuously published English-language magazine. And its publishers have earned more writing awards than any other Canadian religious publication.

Bell wrote a story entitled, “Four Years, Nine Months.”

In it she described her journey to fertility through intra-uterine insemination, Chinese medicine and vitro fertilization. Bell said she learned how to cope with the whole process, eventually welcoming a baby into her life. The story proved to be a journey, but not necessarily a religious one.

“It’s not so much what you believe in, but more about how you live,” Bell said.