By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Many Tennessee Baptist churches are observing Baptist and Reflector Day on Sunday, Aug. 26. As a result, hundreds of Tennessee Baptists may be seeing their state paper for the first time. We hope it won’t be your last.
This issue of the B&R is filled with stories of some of God’s choice servants — people you probably have never heard of or maybe only recognize their name.
In this issue, you will meet Miss Dixie (see story here). Miss Dixie is no bigger than a minute but she’s a giant in her love for the Lord and her willingness to serve Him. You will meet or perhaps be reintroduced to Walter Grubb. Walter is an unsung hero among Tennessee Baptists. He led The King’s Academy (also known as Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy) for 22 years as president before he retired in July.
You will meet Neal Buchanan (see story here). Neal has been a faithful servant for decades. Now in his 80s, he is still making a difference in the lives of children by serving as a tutor in the elementary school just a few minutes from his home. You will meet Pastor Shep, who is “fishing for souls,” using his boat on the Cumberland River in Clarksville. You will be reintroduced to Cal Hampton, no stranger to Tennessee Baptists. He’s been active in the state convention for years. But you will see how he gave up a successful pastorate to follow God’s will to start a new church in his hometown of Clarksville.
This is not unusual. You will meet people like these in every issue of the B&R. We tell the stories of ordinary people that an extraordinary God uses to do extraordinary things for His honor and His glory. But you may not meet these people elsewhere. This is not the news or “good stories” most secular publications print. But we do. Yes, we occasionally print the “bad” news too, but we try to keep those stories at a minimum because there are so many good stories that need to be told — stories you won’t read anywhere else. We also deal with topics that confront Baptists daily, such as death and dying.
For more than 30 years now, including the last 20 as editor, God has given me the privilege of being able to tell those stories. It is a task I still love.
My hope and prayer is that the Baptist and Reflector will continue to exist as a print publication for many years to come. Some major papers have succumbed to the pressures of budgets and ceased print issues in recent years. They are now online publications only.
We are well aware that one day that may be the fate of the B&R but I hope it will be in the distant future. The B&R still meets a need in our state. Just ask the members of those small churches scattered from Memphis to Mountain City that depend on the paper to stay informed about Baptist life in Tennessee and around the world.
We know there are Baptists in our state who rarely read print publications any more. In recent years, we have responded to their calls for a strong online presence.
We have an excellent website. It has enabled us to get stories up quickly as opposed to waiting on the next print issue. The website and print edition complement, not compete with, each other.
But the print issue is a priority. We need more churches and individuals as subscribers. More subscribers make the paper more enticing for advertisers. Plus, more subscribers mean that more people are aware of what God is doing through His people called Tennessee Baptists.
We need your help. If you don’t already subscribe, our hope is that you become a member of the B&R family. If your church does not or no longer sends the paper to its members, we’d love for you to become an advocate for us. We realize that most churches can’t send the paper to every family, but they can send it to key leaders such as deacons, Sunday School teachers, and others.
Perhaps you are a layman who God has blessed tremendously and you could afford to send the B&R to 10 or more families as a gift. We welcome gift subscriptions. And if you don’t have 10 or more people you can send the paper to, we will find new churches that are just getting off the ground and give them free subscriptions for a year to introduce them to the paper.
But even if you can’t provide a subscription, pray for the ministry of the paper and our staff. We seek to serve you and tell your stories. Send us your news for the TenneScene page and ideas for general interest articles.
We are your paper. Join our team as we seek to honor God as we tell His stories. Thank you.