By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
“All good things must come to an end.” That sounds like the kind of “consolation” my tough-minded, unsentimental, plain-spoken mother, Emeline Glessner Davis, would give me and my two sisters in times of disappointment.
Helping my mom raise us were members of First Baptist Church, El Reno, Okla., many of whom were just as tough-minded. They left an indelible impression on me. So when I was drawn to study journalism at the University of Oklahoma, I prayed that I would be allowed to serve Baptists.
God answered that prayer and I have been blessed to serve Baptists and tell your stories, first through the Crusader magazine for Royal Ambassadors and Crusader Counselor, and then through the Baptist and Reflector for 40 years.
Many of my memories are of the photos I took. I will never forget the photo of two young men at Special Friends Camp led by Liz Lee. A black man and white man walked toward me with arms across each other’s shoulders, smiling. Also at the camp were the boys with Down’s Syndrome playing checkers. One paused after resetting the pieces and said, “Try to beat me this time, fat boy.” It was hard for me to keep my composure as I tried to catch that photo.
I will never forget interviewing the pastor and his wife whose son had committed suicide. Though excruciating, they were willing to share to help others.
I will never forget driving to Manhattan just days after 9/11/2001. Incredibly I made it just fine without GPS. I found my friends, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, serving just like they did at other disaster relief sites. One difference was the plume of dust rising behind them as they prepared hot food for rescuers sifting through the remains.
While there I took a photo of two highway patrolmen from New York who had come to help. They were taking advantage of hot meals being served onsite by Tennessee Baptists. Several years later one of them contacted me and asked for a copy of the photo because his friend had died in the line of service.
I will never forget covering disaster relief work near Raleigh, N.C. Meals prepared by Tennessee Baptists and other Baptists were airlifted by a government helicopter for delivery to hungry flood victims of a hurricane.
I will never forget the three overseas trips I made as a reporter for the B&R. The first was daunting — about 300 Tennessee Baptists serving in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to support a partnership. We fanned out across the mammoth metropolis and witnessed miracle upon miracle. Between me and you I took some risks (praying all the way) to cover the event. The culmination was the evangelistic service in Maracana, the famous soccer stadium which hosted the 2016 Olympics.
The other two trips I made for the B&R were also life-changing — with about 100 health care workers led by Dewey Dunn, physician of Woodmont Baptist Church, Nashville, to Rio. He and his wife, Bobbie, have served on about 100 missions trips. Finally, I reported on missions work by teens and young adults in Naples, Italy. As I hope you could tell by the reporting, Tennessee Baptists were seeing God work overseas.
I will never forget interviewing numerous Southern Baptist missionaries, Baptists’ heroes of the faith. Regrettably in recent years, we have been able to use fewer of their stories because of a more dangerous world.
Another memory is helping Lonnie Wilkey, editor, cover the Billy Graham crusade in Nashville, one of Graham’s last. Also memorable was the YEC (Youth Evangelism Conference) led by Kent Shingleton where teens marched through downtown Nashville to the state capitol for a rally. Taking photos of that was a challenge!
I also enjoyed learning design and redesigning the look of the paper, including the masthead.
As much a blessing as these events have been the personal interviews I have conducted with individual Tennessee Baptists. Though a stranger to you, you told me your stories, often your unvarnished “life stories,” so I would have context for a B&R story. Or I have seen you in ministry and portrayed you through your ministry. I have been blessed and benefited so much.
Finally, I want to thank my past and current coworkers, including Lonnie Wilkey, current editor; Mary Nimmo; and Susan Dalton.
On another note, the B&R has held a more personal role in my life. I met by husband-to-be at the B&R offices. Nick Bushey serviced our typesetting equipment for Compugraphic (now Agfa corporation). Though we married later in life, we have now enjoyed 14 years together. Many readers of the B&R were happy for me.
To readers and subscribers (about 25,000 families to the paper version and many thousands more to the electronic versions) of the Baptist and Reflector, thank you for supporting the paper and staff (we experienced your prayers as issues “fell together”), and allowing me to work on the paper.
As a child some times may have been tough but Baptists taught me that “all good things don’t come to an end,” such as God, our faith in Him, and relationships. I count you, Tennessee Baptists, as my friends.
— Contact Bushey in retirement at 615-476-9051 or email@example.com.