Jean Lawe Retires After 30 Years with St. Barnabas Church Newsletter
By Jon Felde and Maurice Harris
In journalism, –30– is code for “the end of a story.” It’s a notation with unclear origins commonly found at the end of press releases. For Jean Law, however, the odd little ending signals an ironic beginning as she retires from more than 30 years of service as the founder and editor the St. Barnabas Church Newsletter. Jean, age 81, assembled the inaugural edition for the Norwich, Vermont parish in 1985 and has faithfully kept the congregants connected ever since. As the publication moves to a new online format, she hopes that others will assume the mantle so that she can enjoy her new role as a mentor and reader.
Originally from Oxshott Surrey, England, Jean and her husband John have been active in St. Barnabas since moving to the community in 1963 for John’s work as a pathologist at Dartmouth Medical School and Hospital. Jean had previously earned her law degree at Cambridge University, and was working in legal publishing until the relocation. She later became the managing editor of the Journal of Neurosurgery, also based at Dartmouth Medical School.
“Somehow I’ve always been involved in publishing,” she said. “The church newsletter was really an extension of something I’ve had a lot of experience doing.”
As for the most interesting stories she has covered, Jean recalled, “The transitions of bishops from Kerr to Swenson to McLeod to Ely, have all been exciting and interesting stories, as well as changes in local ministry. In times of transition, the newsletter can help keep congregations focused on the various things going on in the church.”
A signature of her editorial style for the church newsletter, Jean began using cartoons in the publication, invoking humor as way of connecting with her readers.
Over the years, Jean traded in her typewriter for a computer (and numerous upgrades) and watched the newsletter evolve from monochrome type to full-color digital. As for the future, there are many ways to circulate news of the parish these days, Jean acknowledges. As St. Barnabas consider this task, parishioners are ever mindful of the Jean’s generosity and wisdom, hoping that she will find the time to keep them on track.
In the featured photo: John and Jean Lawe.