Alex Mitchell obituary

Other lives: Christian journalist who played a key role in the early years of the current affairs magazine Third Way

Alex Mitchell, who has died of colon cancer aged 63, played a significant role in the early years of the influential Christian current affairs magazine Third Way. When, as its publisher, I appointed her editor in 1978, she had only four years' journalistic experience on its sister magazine, Crusade, having previously worked as a secretary with the Council of Europe and Church Army.

She was born Ruth Alex Beale in Winchester, Hampshire, where her parents ran a boys' preparatory school. She attended Winchester County high school and Eastleigh technical college. Taking up her post at Third Way just a year after it was launched, she inherited a fortnightly journal which was losing money heavily. She switched to a monthly circulation, moved to in-house origination, which meant that she learned the skills of page design and typesetting, and found a cheaper printer. With the help of a team of volunteers, she brought the magazine back from the brink of closure.

Alex did much to set the tone of the magazine, responding to a growing concern about societal issues among those within the church's evangelical wing. Contributors included clergy who subsequently achieved high office, including George Carey, who became archbishop of Canterbury, and Tom Wright, who became bishop of Durham, as well as politicians such as Edward Heath.

In addition to her work on the magazine, she was the only woman to serve on the committee that produced the church's modern-language hymn book, Hymns for Today's Church, in 1982. One of her own hymns, Now We Sing a Harvest Song, is included in the BBC's popular hymn book Come and Praise.

Alex left Third Way in 1982 to raise a family, and nine years later she and her husband, John, moved to Washington DC, where he took up a job with the World Bank. Their courtship had developed as a result of an article he submitted to the magazine in 1978.

From 1996, when they joined Washington's Fourth Presbyterian Church, she acted as administrator for the many Alpha courses, introducing people to the basics of the Christian faith, which were a regular part of the church's programme. They returned to the UK in 2008 and settled in Surrey.

Alex is survived by John and two sons, Peter and Andrew. In common with all those who worked with her, I shall remember Alex for, among many other things, her genuine interest in people and issues which enabled her to write about them with compassion and conviction.

John Capon

The GuardianTramp

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