By Darrin J. Rodgers
Stephen and Joy Strang have deposited the archives of Charisma Media at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Strangs founded Charisma in 1975, which has become the magazine of record of the charismatic movement in the United States. In 1981, they formed Strang Communications (now Charisma Media), which has published over 3,000 book titles (including many under their Spanish imprint Casa Creación), Christian education materials, and several notable periodicals. Charisma Media is one of the leading Christian publishers in the United States. Fifteen of their titles have been New York Times bestsellers including The Harbinger, which was on the list more than a year.
The Charisma Media Collection consists of approximately 75 boxes (94 linear feet), including: an extensive collection of Charisma Media publications under its various imprints in the English and Spanish languages; correspondence with Pentecostal and charismatic leaders; notes and audio recordings from interviews; an important photograph archive; and an extensive collection of audio/visual recordings, including the weekly Charisma Now! television program produced in partnership with Trinity Broadcasting Network.
The Charisma Media Collection, which provides valuable insight into broad segments of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, will be a boon to researchers.
Stephen Strang has a longstanding passion for history, he often visits museums during his travels, and he has even written a book about his family’s heritage, How We Fit In (2018). Over the years, he has shown particular interest in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC), which is located in the Assemblies of God national office in Springfield, Missouri. Strang developed friendships with the two men who led the FPHC over the past forty years: Wayne Warner (1980-2005) and Darrin Rodgers (2005- ). When the Strangs decided that the sizable Charisma Media archives should be placed in a research facility, they naturally thought of the FPHC, which had grown to become the world’s largest archives within the Pentecostal and charismatic tradition.
The Charisma Media Collection takes its place alongside other significant collections deposited at the FPHC. The list of collections reads like a Who’s Who of the Pentecostal and charismatic world and includes Assemblies of God church leaders Thomas F. Zimmerman and G. Raymond Carlson; International Church of the Foursquare Gospel leader Jack Hayford; Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.; charismatic leader Gerald Derstine; Pentecostal Assemblies of the World historian James L. Tyson; educators Grant Wacker, William W. Menzies, Gary McGee, and J. Robert Ashcroft; and many others.
Stephen and Joy Strang are well connected in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. They count many leaders as personal friends, and their publications provide a level of influence within Pentecostalism often only achieved by top tier evangelists and pastors. Stephen has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including World Relief (2001-2004) and as chairman of Christian Life Missions (1988 to present), the Florida Magazine Association (as president in 1979-1980) and Kings University (affiliated with Jack Hayford) from 1998 to 2016. He also served on many advisory boards including Christians United for Israel, International Charismatic Bible Ministries, and Empowered21.
Strang Communications has built bridges across the denominational and racial divides. The Strangs were prominent supporters of the “Memphis Miracle,” the 1994 watershed event for racial reconciliation within Pentecostalism. They also provided support to the Promise Keepers men’s movement and published its New Man magazine. Joy Strang founded SpiritLed Woman magazine, a counterpart to New Man.
Assemblies of God Roots
The Strangs have deep roots in the Assemblies of God. Stephen was born in 1951 in Springfield, Missouri, where his father, A. Edward Strang, served as pastor of Lighthouse Assembly of God. Stephen Strang’s maternal grandmother (Alice Kersey Farley) and grandfather (Amos Roy Farley) were ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1914 and 1919, respectively.
Joy is also the daughter of Assemblies of God pastors—Harvey and Rose Ferrell (ordained in 1938 and 1952 respectively), who ministered in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines. Stephen and Joy married in 1972. Stephen graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism in 1973 and won the prestigious William Randolph Hearst Foundation Journalism Award. The Strangs had two sons, Cameron and Chandler. Cameron went on to found Relevant magazine in 2003.
After college, Stephen Strang landed a position as a reporter for the Sentinel Star (now the Orlando Sentinel). While working as a reporter, he envisioned starting a magazine that would provide a forum for sharing the Christian faith with those outside the church. He shared the idea with leaders at Calvary Assembly of God (Winter Park, FL), where the Strangs were members. The church agreed to underwrite the first six issues for $15,000, and Charisma magazine was born.
Charisma gained 50,000 subscribers in the first five years. The relationship with Calvary Assembly of God ended on June 1, 1981, when the Strangs formed a corporation and purchased the magazine from the church. The newly formed Strang Communications Company, with Stephen as CEO and Joy as CFO, would become a powerhouse in the Pentecostal and charismatic world.
In 1983, Strang Communications began publishing Ministries Today, a magazine for ministers. In 1986, Strang Communications acquired two magazines, Christian Life and Christian Bookseller (renamed Christian Retailing in 1986), and Creation House Books from Robert Walker. Walker was a longtime evangelical publisher in Wheaton, Illinois, who was sympathetic to Pentecostals. Christian Life, which began publication in 1939, merged with Charisma in the spring of 1987. The merged publication had a paid circulation at one time of over 225,000, making it one of America’s most widely read Christian magazines. The Charisma Media collection includes every issue of Walker’s Christian Life and several other publications, every issue of Charisma and the other publications as well as every book published by Charisma Media and many books published by Walker before the merger.
Other periodicals published by Strang Communications include: Buckingham Report (1985-1986); New Man (1994-2007); SpiritLed Woman (1998-2007); Worship Today (1992-1994); and the Spanish language Vida Cristiana (Christian Life) from 1992 to 2011.
In 1987 Stephen Strang took over responsibility for Robert Walker’s non-profit Christian Life Missions (CLM), which Walker founded in 1956. Stephen Strang has served as chairman of the CLM board of directors since Walker retired in the late 1990s.
In 2011, as part of a company-wide rebranding, Strang Communications changed its name to Charisma Media, and the book imprint, Creation House, became Charisma House. Other Strang books imprints have included: Casa Creación, Passio, Frontline, and Siloam Press.
Of the more than 3,000 books Charisma House has published through its various imprints, more than 2,000 were still in print in 2020. The company has sold an estimated 50 million books. Charisma House has had five books sell more than 1 million copies.
In 2014 the company released the Modern English Version of the Bible, a new translation that is an update of the King James Version.
In 2015 Charisma Media started the Charisma Podcast Network which had 25 million downloads as of early 2020. Of the 41 podcasts on CPN in 2020, Stephen Strang hosted two–the Strang Report with more than three million downloads and a new podcast called “God, Trump and the 2020 Election,” based on his book by the same title. This was the third book he authored on the 45th President, written, he said, from a “spiritual perspective.”
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archives and research center in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200