Church editor didn’t always see journalism as a possibility
By Kathleen Anderson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gale Engle didn’t travel the usual path of people who end up as editors.
She didn’t major in journalism. Her first job wasn’t in the news business. But Engle, the editor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, has always had more than her fair share of curiosity.
In an interview, Engle described how she became an editor. She grew up in Minnesota with her parents, three brothers and two sisters. Engle’s parents were both writers, and when she was in college they bought a small weekly newspaper, which they ran together.
Engle said some of her most vivid childhood memories were sitting around a campfire telling stories with her siblings. One person would start and the next person would add a little and on it would go. She said she always thought they could have made a great book out of those stories.
In fifth grade, Engle wrote a play about the Christmas story, which her whole class performed. She received a lot of praise for her work and realized then that she loved to write.
Engle’s passion for writing grew when she entered high school. She took several writing classes and enjoyed writing stories. But she decided to pursue her passion in a field other than journalism. She attended Winona State University in Minnesota, studying to be a paralegal.
“Maybe I didn’t have the proper guidance to go into journalism,” Engle said. “I didn’t know you could go to school to learn how to be a writer. I thought that was just something you kind of naturally knew.”
Engle said she chose paralegal work because she liked investigating. “You know, going out and talking to people and taking depositions and interviews and figuring stuff out.”
Soon she was offered a job at a newspaper where she did a variety of different things. She was eventually asked to interview people and write stories.
“They were small town, simple stories but they were really fun and I really liked it,” Engle said. She wrote a lot of different stories including one about a farrier, someone who puts shoes on horses.
In 1984 she took a job at Indian Hills Community Church, doing design. She slowly transitioned into more writing and editing and finally became the church’s editor when the previous editor died.
Engle’s job is from the job of a newspaper or magazine editor. She edits newsletters and spiritual booklets. Unlike newspaper editors who deal with strict deadlines, Engle has more time to make sure her work is thorough.
Engle starts her editing process with a transcript from a sermon preached by senior pastor Gil Rugh. It’s normally about 40 pages long. She removes all repetition she finds. She said people don’t mind listening to repetition when it’s spoken, but in writing it is distracting.
Engle then organizes the information so it logically flows and adds examples to illustrate points more clearly. She removes more repetition and then focuses on sentence structure. “Some sentences just need to be turned around … the end of the sentence needs to be at the front.”
After she finishes, she waits a few days and looks at it again with fresh eyes. She then hands the copy off to someone else who edits it and returns it to her. By the time a booklet is finished it will have been edited about seven times.
Engle has always been passionate about communicating through writing. The journey that started in fifth grade has landed her where she never imagined she would be. And she loves it.