The Gospel Trumpet

The Gospel Trumpet in the Nineteenth Century

The Gospel Trumpet began as the Herald of Gospel Freedom in January 1878 in Wolcottville, Indiana. The monthly publication ran for three years, moving to Rome City before it ended in November 1880. The Herald was associated with the Northern Indiana Eldership of the Church of God and was edited by I. W. Lowman and J. Martin. Its subscription cost was fifty cents a year and it carried the tagline “Have No Fellowship with the Unfruitful Works of Darkness.”

In March 1881, the publication resumed under the title The Gospel Trumpet in Indianapolis, Indiana, edited by D. S. Warner and G. Haines. By May, Warner was the sole editor of the paper, and four months later J. C. Fisher joined as corresponding editor. The paper adopted its long-running tagline, “A Definite, Radical, Anti-Sectarian Holiness Journal,” in August 1883. By the 1890s, E. E. Byrum had assumed the role of office editor. He took over paper in December 1895 following D. S. Warner’s death. In October 1898, Byrum took the title of editor-in-chief as the Gospel Trumpet Publishing Company was formed.

The Gospel Trumpet made several moves in the nineteenth century from its original home in Indianapolis. In October 1882, the paper moved to Cardington, Ohio, then to Bucyrus a year later. The subscription cost was raised from 75 cents a year to a dollar a year, followed alternatively by the qualifiers “Free to the poor” and “In advance.” Eight months later, in April 1884, The Gospel Trumpet moved to Williamston, Michigan, where it remained for over two years until moving to Grand Junction in August 1886. In Grand Junction, the paper began to be published on a weekly basis rather than monthly or semi-weekly. Originally four sheets long, eight pages became the standard in 1898. Finally, the paper moved to Moundsville, West Virginia in July 1898, where it remained until its last move in 1906.

The paper quickly developed regular columns, including sections for testimonies, correspondence, reports of divine healing, prayers requests, marriages, obituaries, theological questions and answers, and “News from the Field” nationally and abroad. By the 1890s, sermons and theological articles were often serialized from week to week, covering topics such as women pastors, sanctification, and Prohibition. Space was also reserved for regular editorials and announcements of camp meetings, as well as the state of The Gospel Trumpet itself.

The Gospel Trumpet in the Twentieth Century

 On September 27th, 1906, The Gospel Trumpet moved its headquarters for the final time to Anderson, Indiana. E. E. Byrum remained the paper's editor, and A. L. Byers served as office editor. In 1917, F. G. Smith, a contributing editor since 1914, replaced Byrum as editor-in-chief. He served until 1930, when Charles E. Brown took over the position. Harold L. Phillips became The Gospel Trumpet's final editor in 1951. In the late 1930s, a publication committee, publication sub-committee,  and editorial council were added to the paper's organizational structure.

In 1904, it took three tons of paper to print a single weekly issue of The Gospel Trumpet. The paper's circulation grew in the first quarter of the century, reporting 10,627 subscriptions in April 1922 and 223,000 subscriptions by January 1924. This included subscriptions in several foreign countries. The cost of a year's subscription was $1.25 in 1917, but reached $4 in April 1920. Costs fell to between $1.50 and $2.00 during the Great Depression, but were up to $3.75 by 1958.

During its six decades of publication during the twentieth century, The Gospel Trumpet experimented widely with formats, length, and mastheads. The magazine ran sixteen pages when it arrived in Anderson in 1906, but switched to a format with more images and twenty-four pages in 1918. A year later, the Gospel Trumpet Company acquired a higher-quality press and asked its readers to comment on the ideal size of the sheet. For the next two decades, the publication alternated between the large, sixteen-page format and the smaller version with thirty-two pages. In 1938, the magazine shrunk page sizes once again and varied between sixteen and twenty-four pages for the rest of its run.

As it had in the nineteenth century, The Gospel Trumpet covered a variety of topics concerning theology, culture, and the Church of God. Sections of the magazine remained reserved for poetry, news, correspondence, event annoucements, and fundraising. Regular sections such as "Doctrinal," "Purity and Home," "Young People's Department," and "Observations of Our Times" appeared in the early 1900s and remained a regular part of the publication. Regular issues dedicated to foreign missionaries began in 1913. Cartoons and "College Corner" were added in the early 1930s. Columns for published sermons also became more frequent in the last decades of The Gospel Trumpet, including Dale Oldham's Christian Brotherhood Hour section in the 1940s and 1950s.

Publication of The Gospel Trumpet ended in 1962 when the title was changed to Vital Christianity.

Taglines of The Gospel Trumpet

  • 1882: "Be Ye Holy | 'The Great TRUMPET Shall be Blown, and they Shall Come and Worship the Lord on the Holy Mount' - Isaiah"
  • 1882: "First Pure, Valiant for the Truth"
  • 1884: "The Lord God Shall Blow the Trumpet and Shall Go with Whirlwinds - Jeremiah 11:14"
  • 1895: "Sanctification - Oneness in Christ"
  • 1906: "At Evening Time it Shall be Light"
  • 1911: "Sanctification and Oneness"
  • 1917: "A Religious Weekly Published in the Interests of the Church of God" 
  • 1918: "At Evening Time it Shall be Light | Full Salvation | Unity & Truth"
  • 1918: "A definite, heart-searching, nonsectarian religious weekly published in the interests of the Church of God"
  • 1933: "A Weekly Journal of Vital Christianity"

Twentieth-Century Contributing, Managing, and Office Editors of The Gospel Trumpet,
with first recorded date of involvement with the paper

  • H. M. Riggle (1902)
  • Charles E. Orr (1902)
  • J. C. Blaney (1902)
  • J. W. Byers (1902)
  • Gro. L. Cole (1902)
  • J. E. Forrest (1902)
  • F. W. Henly (1913)
  • G. Q. Coplin (1914)
  • F. G. Smith (1914)
  • J. T. Wilson (1914)
  • R. L. Berry (1914)
  • J. Grant Anderson (1916)
  • Russel R. Byrum (1917)
  • C. W. Naylor (1918)
  • Charles E. Brown (1918)
  • Fred Bruffett (1918)
  • A. F. Gray (1922)
  • Earl Martin (1925)
  • A. T. Rowe (1926)
  • Marvin W. Brown (1936)
  • A. K. Lopez (1938)
  • Esther Sample Byrd (1938)
  • Vivian Ahrendt (1940)
  • Harold Phillips (1942)
  • Kenneth Hall (1950)