By Earl E. Robertson
Fifteen years ago I was living in Indianapolis, Indiana and working with the Belmont Avenue church. Brother Cecil Willis was living in Akron, Ohio and preaching for the Brown Street church. He was at that time doing some writing through the pages of Truth Magazine and the Gospel Guardian. Truth Magazine then was only in its sixth year of existence. The circulation was small and the paper was behind schedule. The brethren then who were responsible for it desired to let someone else have it. Cecil visited my home and told me that he would be willing to assume the editorship of the paper if we thought it would survive. Bill Wallace and I told Cecil that we thought it would live and for him to take it.
From that time (the seventy-first issue of Truth Magazine) until a short time ago Cecil sat in the editorial chair and did a good job. He was loved by some and hated by others. He ably met the religious errors, both in the church and out, of his time. Some in the church apparently felt his treatment of error was too harsh, but it seems that they either did not know the issues involved or were themselves tainted with the same error. Time will prove this to any doubter. Cecil’s editorials were often read by many of us before they saw the light of the printed page, and were endorsed by us. One had no difficulty understanding what he wrote. Some, understanding what he wrote agreed with it, but disagreed with the way he said it. But what did they say about the same doctrinal errors?
In the early stages of Cecil’s editorial responsibilities he worked at a personal sacrifice and financial loss. As the paper grew and the book sales increased more demand was made upon his time. Eventually the Board recognized the need for all of his time and he was then hired so that his sole responsibility pertained to Cogdill Foundation business. The business grew with this arrangement. The working relationship between Cecil and the Board has always been the best. A number of meetings have been conducted through the years by the Board and not the slightest conflicts have ever been observed. No one could ever ask for or expect a more pleasant relationship to exist than has existed in this Foundation Board. Some preachers who know absolutely nothing about the Board meetings have peddled misinformation, lies and innuendo. Why? I do not know; only they, God and the devil know. It has been stated that the business is in poor condition and the paper might cease. The records loudly speak otherwise. We tell a loving and deserving brotherhood that the business is now larger than ever before and continues to grow each month. We have sought to serve with good merchandise and good service and we believe that brethren everywhere are aware of the fact that this has been and now is our aim. We thank each customer and subscriber for all past and present business and promise to give you the continued good service. Brother Robert Whitehead, Book Store Business Manager, is at his job. He will continue to see that you are a satisfied customer.
Elsewhere in this issue, you may find Cecil’s own statement of resignation. In his statement here, as in the one to the Board directly, he gives his own two reasons as to why, for conscience sake, he resigned. The Board realized that Cecil was not able to function in the capacity that his office demanded, and did, therefore, give him a leave of absence with full pay hoping that he would become able to assume fully the duties of his office. He realized his problems perhaps more fully than did we and tendered his resignation. He stated in his written resignation of March 14, 1977, “I will be perfectly willing to assist in any way that I am asked to assist in the transitional period with the person or persons who shall succeed me, provided of course that my assistance is desired. I ask that you please consider this decision of mine as final, and make no effort to convince me otherwise, for it has only been made after weeks and even months of deliberation by me. My mind has been fully settled about the decision for several weeks, but I have delayed in writing this letter that I might deliberate upon the matter further and thus make no decision hastily. This action now has been taken after due deliberation. My best wishes shall attend the endeavors of the Foundation, and I am sorry that circumstances are such in my life that I feel it necessary to tender my resignation.”
With the kingdom of God singularly on his mind, and diligent effort for years to promote the same, Cecil became unable, in conscience, to continue an employee of the Cogdill Foundation. He further said the basic reason of his leaving the Foundation “is the failure during a period of almost two years now for me to recapture a sufficient measure of my health and strength to enable me to carry the full work load that I have heretofore borne.”
The New Editor
With Cecil’s resignation the Board was acutely aware of the need for a new editor for Truth Magazine. Summarily, the Board met in Dallas, Texas on March 25, 1977 to discuss this matter-along with other business. Each member was aware of the work Mike Willis had done in Cecil’s absence. Mike is thirty years old and the youngest son of the O. J. Willis family — Cecil’s youngest brother. It was the feelings of each member of the Board that Mike accept the editorship of Truth Magazine. The editorial chair was offered to him in that meeting. He asked for time to consider it and the Board granted him several weeks to make up his mind. However, within a month he wrote: “I have decided to accept your offer to be the new editor of Truth Magazine. After much deliberation, I have decided to make this my life’s work.”
We all are very pleased with this decision. We believe that Mike is eminently qualified to do this work well. Mike is a graduate of Florida College, Butler University, and holds a Masters degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He has written much in the last few years and read extensively. He has one of the better libraries to be found in any preacher’s study, and he uses it! He is sound in the faith! This was the first and foremost requirement by the Board for any who might be selected to be editor. ,Mike not only knows the truth but can easily detect error. He loves the truth and hates all error. He will advance all truth and oppose all error on the pages of Truth Magazine, as has been the policy of past editors. Mike has, in the present issue of this paper, made the same promise that Cecil made in the August 1962 issue, to keep the same policy and goal for the Magazine. We have reason to believe, therefore, that the same righteous objective aimed for in the past will be the constant end sought by Mike.
We ask all readers and customers of the Cogdill Foundation publications to give Mike an opportunity to serve you. Mike has stated his position and made his promises and we believe that he will not disappoint any in these regards. We ask you to carefully read his article “A Change In Editors” in this issue.
Being editor of Truth Magazine gives Mike an opportunity to teach and influence many. The good elders of the Knollwood church in Dayton, Ohio where Mike is now preaching are aware of this opportunity. Mike will continue to work part-time with that church. His influence with them will, we are confident, be for good. Those elders are awake; they know the difference between human foundations and the church of Christ. They love the truth and all who advance it; their actions now, as in the past, are known and respected by knowledgeable men of God.
Truth Magazine XXI: 20, pp. 311-312
May 19, 1977