By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Three staff members of the communications team (which includes the Baptist and Reflector) of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board recently learned that we had been recognized by the Baptist Communicators Association in the 2022 BCA Awards Competition (see story HERE).
BCA is a professional development association for Baptist communicators and has a membership of about 250 communicators nationwide.
To be recognized in an awards competition with your peers is both exciting and humbling. There are members in BCA organizations who could write for any news outlet in the country or compete in any other area as well. BCA is not just for writers and editors. There are communications personnel in all areas including photography, audio-visuals, graphic design and more. The competition is stout in every category. Entering the competition gives us an opportunity to see how we compare to others in our profession.
While I value the BCA awards that I have received over the years, I can’t help but remember something I learned at a conference sponsored by Baptist Public Relations Association, the forerunner of BCA. During a session, one of the speakers remarked that while awards are nice, the best “award” is knowing that your work, regardless of what it is, meets the needs of your audience. I have never forgotten that.
In my case, an article may be well written, but if it doesn’t speak to my audience (Tennessee Baptists), then I have wasted my time. More importantly, if the article does not lift up my “true boss,” Jesus Christ, then it is doubly futile.
In recent weeks, readers have reminded me why they invest their money and time in reading the Baptist and Reflector.
I received an e-mail from Kenneth Mullinax who let me know that his dad, Edwin Gene Mullinax Sr., had died on April 1. Bro. Mullinax served as pastor of two churches for more than 50 years, including 44 years at Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Hurricane Mills. Kenneth noted that his dad fought pancreatic cancer the last 13 months of his life and could not go to church and preach. Yet, he preached every week on Facebook Live. “He has an amazing story/legacy of love, hope, perseverance, obedience and so much more,” his son wrote.
The younger Mullinax also noted that his bivocational dad appreciated the ministry of the Baptist and Reflector. “Daddy would share articles in the pulpit from the Baptist and Reflector at least every month, and under his leadership the church always paid for everyone in our church to receive the Baptist and Reflector.”
Kenneth also expressed appreciation to the B&R staff for “sharing the love of Jesus through your historic newspaper. We are blessed to get a newspaper that … highlights and memorializes the hard work of so many to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Shortly afterwards, I received a note from Tiffany Roy, one of our younger readers who does contract work with Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union. Tiffany and her sister, Brittany, recently took photos at the WMU Missions Get-Together in Gatlinburg, and we used some of those photos. She wrote, “Thank you for using our photos! This is an honor for us and our family. We grew up with the B&R at our church in Cookeville and I remember the excitement of seeing our birthdays listed on the back page where our church had their own newsletter there.
“I remember visiting my grandparents who lived in Sweetwater and they always read the B&R, front to back. Oh, how I wish they were here to see photos taken by their granddaughters in the B&R. They would have loved that!”
These are just two stories that happened recently that remind our B&R team and me of why we do what we do. We don’t write for secular or religious awards. We do write for our readers and for our Lord and Savior. We know that not every story will be an “award winner” but we pray that it meets the purpose for which it is written. Admittedly, some of our stories bear news that is not uplifting, but we feel it is news that Tennessee Baptists need to be aware of.
We hope you will tolerate those stories in order to read the award winners – those stories that share what Tennessee Baptists and our churches are doing to make Christ known in Tennessee and around the world. Those are the stories that matter and, hopefully, those are the stories that bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ.
And, of course the ultimate award for all who profess to be Christians is to hear that “Well done, my good and faithful servant” one sweet day. B&R