Robert Bruce Haslam, 86, died Jan. 28 after a brief illness. Haslam served the Free Methodist Church – USA in many capacities for more than 50 years: pastor of churches in the Midwest and on the West Coast, missionary to the Philippines and longtime Free Methodist World Missions executive. For tens of thousands of magazine readers and countless freelance writers, he was known as Bob Haslam, editor of Light & Life Magazine.
During Haslam’s time as Light & Life editor from 1986 to 1996, the Evangelical Press Association twice gave the magazine its Award of Excellence for being the top denominational magazine in North America. In retirement, Haslam continued to write for Light & Life and many other publications. In a Light & Life online discipleship article titled “The Fruitful, Spirit-Led Life,” he explained last year, “The Holy Spirit faithfully guides us through opening our minds and hearts to the Bible and by witnessing to our spirit. In those ways, we may grow the fruit of the Spirit as He leads us.”
Haslam exemplified a fruitful, Spirit-led life, according to John Van Valin who began working with Haslam when Van Valin joined Light & Life Communications as denominational publisher in 1990.
“The Free Methodist headquarters had just moved to Indianapolis. At that time, I also moved from Kansas to join the team at Light & Life as publisher. Bob had already established himself as a superb editor of Light & Life Magazine, and I immediately found him to be a friend with a steadying spirit in a time of significant adjustment for all,” Van Valin said. “His spiritual sensitivity, insights and wisdom endeared him not only to his readers but to his co-workers.”
Haslam had fun on the job while taking the work seriously.
“He always carried about within him an ample supply of humor and wit but balanced it with a careful writing and the production of an award-winning magazine,” Van Valin said.
Haslam’s prolific writings did much more than amuse. In his final editorial, he
described Light & Life as “a ministry to tens of thousands of people, believers and those still searching. To the degree that this ministry has benefited your life and others’ lives, we have succeeded in our mission.”
Van Valin said that Haslam faithfully fulfilled his mission as editor. “The loyalty of his readers and his staff stood as a testament to his love for people and his abiding desire to help everyone grow in Christ. A loyal churchman and a theologically trained writer, Bob exercised his pen, in helpful reporting of encouraging church news and also as a truly loving critic, never fearing to call the church to account on issues of orthodoxy or practice. His writing, plus the choice of others’ articles faithfully, brought cohesiveness and nourishment to readers within and beyond the Free Methodist Church. Many will remember him as a man of faith, courage and spiritual nourishment.”
Haslam’s editing and writing experiences extended beyond Free Methodism. He served as World Relief’s director of communications and church relations and as the founding editor of the organization’s In Touch Magazine. After his official retirement, Haslam mentored aspiring writers for the Christian Writers Guild and edited books for a Christian book publisher. He was a prolific Christian journalist with articles published in more than 70 religious publications. He was a member of the Evangelical Press Association and the National Religious Broadcasters.0