“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
For John, that quote by author Douglas Adams pretty much sums up his life.
Born and raised in southern Ontario, in 1976 John decided to attend university in Winnipeg on a whim — just for one year. But one year turned into two, then three and four and now, all these years later, he is a Winnipegger.
In 1978, on another whim, he applied for a summer internship at a magazine. Although he had zero experience, he got the job. The storytelling bug bit hard, and he’s never looked back.
That decision led to a winding and almost whimsical career through three countries and nine different jobs, mostly in communications and marketing for international relief and development organizations (which provided the added bonus of being able to tell stories from around the world).
Along the way, John came to see the importance of working with the media as a great way for non-profits to share stories with the public. This led him to write Making the News: An Essential Guide for Effective Media Relations (Novalis).
One constant through John’s career has been his belief that almost every story has religion angle, and that the media could do a better job of telling it — as a succession of Free Press editors, beginning with Nick Hirst, knows only too well!
This belief also prompted him to organize Canada’s first-ever conference on faith and the media in in Ottawa in 1998, in collaboration with various media and local and national faith groups. More than 250 people from the media and faith groups attended the conference, which was sponsored by the Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication and the Canadian Association of Journalists.
In 2006, John received the Distinguished Contribution to Religious Communications from the Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada. He has also won awards for his writing from the Associated Church Press and the Canadian Church Press.
John is a big believer in interfaith relations. Faith groups may differ on matters of belief, but also have many things in common. This includes making sure the role religion plays in society isn’t ignored by the media.
As the faith page columnist since 2003, John is grateful for how the Free Press has maintained its commitment to covering religion — even as other Canadian newspapers have dropped the religion beat.
John is a member of River East Church (Mennonite). He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
Recent articles of John Longhurst
A few thoughts for Christians as Good Friday approaches5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023
Jews were in a state of high alert on Feb. 25, the so-called “day of hate” against members of that community. That was the day extremist and antisemitic groups called for violence and harassment against Jews in the U.S.
Parish nursing offers boost to health services5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 11, 2023
Manitoba needs as many as 2,000 more nurses to fill all the vacant positions. Emergency rooms are overloaded. Surgical wait times are up. Patients are waiting in hallways to be seen. The health-care system is at, or beyond, the breaking point.
AI steps up to the pulpit6 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 4, 2023
Like many others, I am fascinated by ChatGPT — the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI that can write essays, letters, poems and just about anything else you ask it to do.
Services at two cathedrals mark anniversary of war in Ukraine3 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023
Even in isolation, Larry Updike's songs instil hope and perseverance4 minute read Preview Friday, Feb. 24, 2023
CMU panel presentation puts focus on pandemic polarization3 minute read Preview Friday, Feb. 24, 2023
COVID-19 pandemic health regulations, vaccinations and mask mandates have polarized Canadians, creating divides between individuals, and in communities, families and places of worship.
40-day fast a way to ‘feel closer to God’5 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023
During Lent, the 40-day period when Christians are encouraged to give something up in memory of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, some choose to make sacrifices of their own by giving up activities like watching TV, playing video games, shopping or following the news. Others give up things they like to eat — meat, coffee, chocolate, dessert, snacks or candy.
Presentation to focus on crucifixion2 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023
For Christians, the death of Jesus on the cross is the foundation of their faith. For Jews, it has often been a source of persecution, violence and death.
Muslim community celebrates first prayer services in Steinbach3 minute read Preview Monday, Feb. 13, 2023
THE first public Muslim prayer services in Steinbach have brought together worshippers from surrounding southern Manitoba communities.
Goal of Lectio Divina is to deepen relationship with God4 minute read Preview Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023
Concert to show support for human-rights activists fighting repression in Iran3 minute read Preview Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023
Churches look to host indoor skate park for LGBTTQ+ community5 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023
It was in mid-December, last year, a few weeks after the story broke about queer skateboarders not feeling safe using the Youth for Christ indoor skate park. That’s when I sent a whimsical note to Geoff Woodcroft, Bishop of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
Indigenous U of W student honours memory of slain aunt, others with ribbon chandeliers4 minute read Preview Monday, Jan. 30, 2023
Looking ahead to the future of Christianity5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023
What’s the future of Christianity in Canada? That’s the question I asked Michael Pahl, executive director of Mennonite Church Manitoba and Michael Wilson, minister at Charleswood United Church.
Holocaust Education Centre reopens with more stories, better access after $213,000 upgrade4 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023
New Canadian Mennonite editor up for challenge5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023
Like for media everywhere, church-related publications are challenged today.