By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
For the past few years I have dabbled in the junk and antique business, buying and selling items. It’s fun to see how people will buy antique and vintage items to “repurpose” them so they can be used today.
Two years ago when the Baptist Center was sold and Tennessee Baptist Convention offices (including the B&R) were moved to a temporary location, many items either had to be stored or given away due to lack of space.
Among those items was the desk that was used for more than 40 years by four men who served as editor of the Baptist and Reflector. The desk was huge and though I enjoyed using that desk for more than a decade, it honestly was too big although I never had any trouble keeping it covered with papers and other “stuff.”
I could not bear to see the desk just given away or thrown away for that matter. I contacted Al Lang, special collections librarian and archivist at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, to see if he could use the “Editor’s Desk” as it was referred to by former editor Wm. Fletcher Allen in his history of the B&R entitled Telling the Truth in Love: A Brief History of the Baptist and Reflector from 1835. Allen called the desk “an emblem of honor, a messenger of the turmoil and victories set aside for faithful wordsmiths.”
Lang said they could use it and it finally made its way from storage at the Missions Mobilization Center in Mount Juliet to Carson-Newman earlier this year.
Lang wrote me: “I have often heard the phrase, ‘If these walls could talk. …’ That was one of my first thoughts when I received the desk that four Baptist and Reflector editors who faithfully worked at it dating back to 1968 — the stories that it could tell.
“Carson-Newman is thrilled to be able to add such a unique and wonderful piece of history to our Middle and East Tennessee Baptist Archives. We are privileged to be the caretaker of an item that will be a continual reminder of those who faithfully worked so hard to communicate what God was doing through His people here in Tennessee,” Lang wrote.
He noted the desk is now in the Baptist Archives, located on the second floor of the Stephens-Burnett Memorial Library on the C-N campus. It will be used as a “functional accent piece where researchers can sit and work,” he said.
I am so grateful that Al Lang was able to “repurpose” the editor’s desk. May it be a reminder of the rich heritage and tradition of the Baptist and Reflector for students and researchers in the years ahead.