Jane Campbell, longtime editorial director of Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, retired June 4 after nearly 40 years, telling PW it was “an adventure” being a part of the evolution of publishing books with a charismatic perspective.
Chosen, founded by John and Elizabeth Sherrill, focuses on spirit-led books that fall on the charismatic side of Christianity, publishing books on prophetic vision and voice, prayer, spiritual warfare, the Holy Spirit, battling evil, and more. Campbell began her journey when she started working on a freelance basis for John Sherrill in 1978 as writer and ghostwriter. She joined the imprint as a full-time employee in 1983, just as it acquired by Zondervan. Three years later, Chosen, along with Zondervan-owned Revell Books, were sold to Guideposts. The final stop on the acquisition train was in 1992 when Chosen and Revell were bought by Baker Publishing Group. Both remain divisions of the family-owned company.
Through all the changes, Campbell and her skills and vision for Chosen remained a constant. Stan Jantz, president and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, called Campbell’s editing skills “undeniable. Not only did she consistently find compelling authors and curate great books, but she also established Chosen as one of the premiere imprints in Christian publishing. In doing so, Jane virtually invented a unique genre: Charismatic books with universal appeal.”
Campbell has poignant memories of working with and learning from hundreds of authors over the years who “hold up the name of Jesus Christ and revere the Word of God,” she said. She also remembers when she learned to “acquire books with the Holy Spirit” in 1985 when Chosen was owned by Zondervan and she had moved to Grand Rapids, Mich. She felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to contact a potential author.
“I had heard a guy speak at a church but didn’t remember his name. I called the church to ask and they said his name was Brennan Manning. I called his home and his wife said he’s in Grand Rapids. That evening I met with the pastor [where he was speaking] and Brennon Manning to talk about a book,” recalls Campbell. “He pulled out a manuscript and said, ‘Do you want to publish this?’ It became Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, released in 1986 and now published by Baker’s Revell division.”
Campbell has also seen acceptance of renewal theology (theology as related to Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts) in recent years. “Renewal theology is now considered mainstream in most sectors of the church. I like to think we have helped to bridge the gap. The dividing wall has crumbled and Chosen is part of that,” she said.
Perhaps Chosen’s most important book is the first one it ever published: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for helping Jews in The Netherlands. The Hiding Place came out in 1971, before Campbell joined Chosen, however, she shepherded a 35th anniversary edition in 2006. Sales of the title are over 15 million copies. “The Hiding Place has only increased in sales over the years,” said Campbell. “Its greatest gift to the world is reminding us of the importance of speaking out against evil, the evil of anti-Semitism, and the imperative importance of forgiveness.”
It’s fitting that as Campbell retires Chosen will publish God is My Hiding Place: 40 Devotions for Refuge and Strength (Oct.) based on ten Boom’s writings, which include her more than 40 books. According to Campbell, the book also signals a turn for Chosen, into more gift and devotional books, as well as a new focus on e-courses by its authors including Kris Vallotton’s upcoming Spiritual Intelligence: The Art of Thinking Like God and accompanying e-course.
Campbell is being succeeded as editorial director by Kim Bangs, who has worked in the publishing industry for nearly 30 years. She joined Baker in 2014 as senior acquisitions editor for Bethany House nonfiction and Chosen Books, and later transitioned to full-time acquisitions for Chosen.
In her retirement, Campbell plans to train her six-month-old puppy Rosie, lead a Bible study, group help more people at her church, and volunteer at a homeless shelter.