By John Pierce
Fifteen years ago (Feb. 1, 2000) I embarked on a new and different journey as executive editor of Baptists Today, an autonomous, national news journal based in Macon, Ga. It has been a demanding yet rewarding experience.
At times, the challenges seemed overwhelming — working at the busy intersection of fast-changing communication technology and ever-shifting sociological realities facing churches and faith organizations today.
Sustaining an independent charitable ministry that relies on gifts from individuals and organizations is not easy.
The changing religious landscape — as well as shifts within denominational entities and congregations — has made for continual observation, evaluation and redirection. Long-range planning has given way to being nimble and alert — always open to seizing the good moments that arise.
Indeed challenges are often opportunities for doing something better and different than before.
Changes within our own organization have been phenomenal when considered in whole.
Baptists Today has evolved from a tabloid publication to a 44-page, full-color news journal that contains the Nurturing Faith Bible Studies by Tony Cartledge. These Lectionary-based studies are used by many classes and other groups around the nation — with access to excellent teaching resources online.
A few years ago Baptists Today leadership wisely formed Nurturing Faith, Inc. as a wholly-owned subsidiary to provide books and other good resources with the same commitment to creativity, quality and respect for deeper thinking.
The book-publishing venture, a collaborative effort with the creative services firm, Faith Lab, uses the latest publishing technology and in-house marketing advantages. It has exceeded our predictions.
Thanks to all the Nurturing Faith book authors, sponsors and customers.
Other resources such as a children’s curriculum and the Nurturing Faith Bible Series will be published as funding is secured.
Last year, we launched Nurturing Faith Experiences with trips to Montana/Wyoming and Israel/West Bank. Both were wonderful opportunities for editors and readers to spend time traveling and learning together.
The response from participants has been so positive that we are planning other Nurturing Faith Experiences — often in partnership with others.
Independence doesn’t mean isolation, but voluntary collaboration. We engage in a variety of projects with many partnering groups.
Our collaborative efforts are based on solid trust, shared responsibility and mutual benefit — with the ultimate goal of serving thoughtful Christians and their congregations.
So, thanks to all who bring their gifts and talents to combine with ours to do more than we could do apart.
Thanks to the amazing colleagues, past and present, whose commitments far exceed their job descriptions. Though a small and busy staff, we are indeed a team.
Thanks to the Board of Directors — and those who served before — who counsel, affirm and direct this ever-changing, good work. These wonderful friends give of their valuable time, cover their own expenses to be engaged in this effort, and are among the most generous financial contributors.
Together we have shared times of challenge and celebration. Your faithfulness through both is greatly appreciated.
By nature, I am a reflective person. But with so much constantly ahead that needs attention — the next deadline, fundraising goal, Board meeting or event — there is not a lot of time for looking back.
When I do, however, the primary feeling is just that: one of gratitude — deep gratitude for the many persons who’ve shared the journey and supported the expanding mission with time, talent and financial gifts.
Our future is as bright as the strength of our commitments and the abundance of the resources we invest in this unique venture.
Technology and sociology are ever changing — and will continue to do so. Yet the need for thoughtful, reliable and helpful information and quality resources remains.
Thanks to all who help fulfill and expand that mission in a context of freedom, creativity and hope.
Keep it up, please. We need you and others in order to keep moving ahead.
(PHOTO BY JOHN D. PIERCE: Don Brewer of Gainesville, Ga., and Cathy Turner of Clemson, S.C., currently lead the voluntary, independent Board of Directors that ensures the editorial freedom and responsible stewardship of Baptists Today.)