Ted Byfield, the Canadian publishing icon, was once described by one of his admirers, Steve Hopkins, as imaginative, compassionate, generous and charming as well as "stubborn."
However, "determined" and "crusader for what's right" could certainly be added.
Two years ago, Byfield's most ambitious project, the much-anticipated $5 million, 12-volume Christian History Project, collapsed and there were those who were ready to give it a proper burial.
However, Byfield wasn't about to give in to circumstances.
In a May 30, 2005 column, I quoted the project's then president and CEO Bob Doull as saying he suspected a technician (with possible Muslim ties) of tampering with the expensive computer system on Dec. 28, 2004. Based in Edmonton, the 'puter "housed" the volumes, artwork and all the customer records. Edmonton police, apparently, looked into the incident.
To make matters worse, on Feb. 13, 2005, CHP was struck a second time; this time it was less devastating as the criminal(s) attempted to "take down the telephone system."
Doull said he had "set up a couch outside the server room" to watch for the culprit(s), however, the two incidents had sent the project into a tailspin even though added security systems were in place. "It paralyzed our customer service," stated Doull, admitting about $700,000 would be needed to restore a workable system. He then added he intended to return to being a community newspaper publisher.
All hope seemed lost, for a letter on March 1, 2006 from spokesman, Brian Lehr, read, in part: "We wish to inform you that the Christian History Project Limited Partnership has been forced to cease operations and is being dissolved. The Partnership developed an outstanding product, but unfortunately it is unsuccessful as a commercial enterprise. It is with deep regret that we must advise all creditors of our inability to pay the amounts owing to them ..."
The death knell may have sounded, but they had forgotten about a "determined" and "stubborn" Byfield.
Just the other day, a 10-page bulletin reached my desk from SEARCH (The Society to Explore and Record Christian History). In it Byfield claimed the new society was committed to producing the last six of the 12 books of the series called 'The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, and it would cost $3 million, including $1 million up front to begin production.
He then added, "As yet we have no money, but we deeply believe that if the work is good, then God will make it happen."
Byfield said the project had been discontinued because "its sales method -- telemarketing -- proved so costly."
He then outlined six things in the society's favour including people, who created the first six books want to finish the job, as well as the society has some 55,000 copies of the first six volumes stored gratis in Edmonton.
While more than 10,000 people bought the first six books, Byfield said he was enouraged that since the society was established, more than 1,800 had written, e-mailed or phoned to say they intend to buy the last six volumes.
Byfield, who was general editor for the first six volumes, will continue in that role while Hopkins will serve as associate editor and Dean Pickup as art director. In addition, a qualified staff of writers and artists are willing, actually, anxious to join the renewed project, which is in the midst of trying to gain up-front financial stability.
The first six volumes included: The Veil Is Torn (AD 30 to 70) -- Pentecost to the Destruction of Jerusalem; A Pinch of Incense (AD 70 to 250) -- From the Fall of Jerusalem to the Decian Persecution; By This Sign (AD 250 to 350) -- From the Decian Persecution to the Constantine era; Darkness Descends (AD 350 to 565) -- The Fall of the Western Roman Empire; The Sword of Islam (AD 565 to 740) -- The Muslim Onslaught all but Destroys Christendom; and The Quest for the City (AD 740 to 1100) -- Pursuing the next world, they founded this one.
The final six volumes will include such titles as The Glorious Disaster; The Birth of Modernity; The Century of Giants; The Christian Democracies; Unto the Ends of the Earth and The Fifth Resurrection -- From the Fall of Christian Europe to the Rise of the Christian South and the time period stretches from 1100 AD to 2001 AD.
For more information concerning this epic, and highly recommended project, contact Byfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.thechristians.ca website.