Former Faith & Form editor Betty Herndon Meyer passed away on August 31 at her home in Auburndale, Massachusetts. She was 93. Betty served as Editor-in-Chief of Faith & Form from 1980 until 2001, when she became Editor Emeritus, and wrote a regular column, “Just One More Thing.” Her last column was published in the Summer 2011 issue, in which she expressed “… my gratitude to you, dear readers, and just want to let you know that your positive responses over the years have meant a great deal to me. May you grow old and always have a gleam in your eye. I love you all.”
Under Meyer’s editorial leadership, Faith & Form became the leading magazine in the U.S. covering the art and architecture of religious buildings for all faiths, and the voice of the community of architects, artists, liturgical consultants, clergy, and congregations involved in the design and construction of religious environments.
Betty’s interest in religious art and architecture began in 1949, when her minister husband, Eugene W. Meyer, and she were asked by the Board of Extension of Congregational Churches to establish a new church in Webster Groves, Missouri. The small but growing congregation wanted to build a traditional New England Congregational church building. Casting about for information on the design of churches, Meyer invited theologian Paul Tillich, who happened to be visiting nearby Eden Theological Seminary, to come to Webster Groves and speak with the building committee, which he did. In Betty’s words, “He spoke eloquently about the importance of architecture and its relationship to contemporary religion.”
Betty became active in the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA), using its resources on church design to encourage the building committee to consider other possibilities. Invigorated by non-traditional architecture, the congregation voted to build a Modern church, The Church of the Open Door, in Webster Groves. Betty continued to be active in IFRAA, attending conferences and eventually making presentations, always with an eye to the possibilities of interfaith exchange.
A 1940 graduate of Drury University, Betty had undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of philosophy, religion, ethics, and theology. She wrote extensively about religious art and architecture, and held associate professorships at Tufts University’s Crane Theological School and at Lasell College for Women.
Betty served as a consultant to the United Church of Christ, as Director of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Gallery, and as executive director of the Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture (of which she authored a history). She was honored with the IFRAA/AIA Elbert Conover Award in 1996, named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects in 1999, and in 2000 received a Special Merit Award from Drury University
She will be painfully missed.