Happy 175th Birthday Alabama Baptist

It was my pleasure and honor to write about a historical time not just for our school, but the whole Baptist community. As most of you know February 4, 2018 marked the 175th anniversary of The Alabama Baptist newspaper. Most of the paper’s staff and more than 100 visitors around the state came to celebrate this day with us in the Marion and Judson Community.

The paper was first published in 1843 here at Judson College by four founding members: James DeVotie, a pastor from South Carolina and one of the co-founders of Howard College, which is now known as Samford University; Gen. E.D. King, another one of the founding members, who donated space for the paper in Marion, Alabama; and finally, two founders who are commonly known throughout the Judson Campus, Milo P. Jewett and Julia Tarrant Barron.  Without these four individuals fulfilling their God-given vision, the paper would not have ever gotten started.

Dr. Bob Terry and Dr. Bullock relieved the first ever paper published The Alabama Baptist back in 1843.
Dr. Bob Terry and Dr. Bullard revealing a copy of the first ever edition of The Alabama Baptist published back in 1843.

Today, the paper is received in 65,000 homes and has 1,500 subscribers online.   It has already won 200 national awards and the title of award-winning publication. The Alabama Baptist has upheld a wonderful mission statement and has continued “seeking to empower [Christian readers] to live out discipleship in their personal, professional, and church life.”

A couple of days before the big event, I got to interview Mary Amelia Taylor, a graduate and Director of Marketing and Communications at Judson.  I asked her how reading The Alabama Baptist made her feel, and her response was “The Alabama Baptist helps me feel connected to what is going on in the Alabama Baptist community.” I also asked her what her opinion on the event as a whole was, she said “It is exciting to commemorate the paper’s achievements. It deserves a moment in the spotlight.”

These are the four founding members of the Alabama Baptist.
These are the four founding members of the Alabama Baptist.

Pastor John Nicholson of Siloam Baptist church, also instrumental in the founding of both Judson and TAB, agrees. “It is incredible being a part of the history; it does, however, get overwhelming knowing that I have the responsibility of carrying on this legacy.”

The morning of February 6, the day of the birthday celebration for TAB on Judson’s campus, I was told to go interview people at the three touring locations: Reverie, Siloam, and Marion Military Institute.  The people whom I interviewed all said they came to hear about the wonderful history and to see the beautiful campus.  I met one woman who was a former student at Judson she told me “I’m always interested in Baptist history and was a graduate from Judson, so any excuse to come back is great.”

This Flag was hanging above the chapel doors at MMI.
This Flag was hanging above the chapel doors at MMI.

It was a privilege to meet and question some of the staff members, the current editor Dr. Bob Terry and the editor-elect Jennifer Rash. Dr. Terry will be retiring soon so I asked him to reflect upon the accomplishments of the paper during his tenure. He said, “When I talk to people about their opinion of The Alabama Baptist no two answers are the same, and in every print of the paper the is bound to be an article that will influence a person’s life.”

Rash further expanded upon the benefits a publication like TAB offers both those who work for it and those who read it. She said, “It gives me the opportunity to merge my Christian ministry and my passion for writing.”

Once Dr. Terry retires, Ms. Rash will become the first woman to be the editor of The Alabama Baptist, and when I asked her how this made her feel she said, “Grasping the fact that my tenure as editor of The Alabama Baptist will mark the first time a woman has served as editor of one of the major state, Baptist newspapers adds to the honor and overwhelming sense of duty for this role in which God has entrusted me. The road to this point has been such a natural flow during the past 20-plus years and the sense of calling so strong that I can only look forward with anticipation about what is next. Being a part of such a tremendous legacy as what surrounds The Alabama Baptist as a communications ministry inspires me to do better than my best to add to the amazing work from the past 175 years and continue carrying out the foundational purposes for which the ministry exists. I am thankful to current editor Bob Terry for investing in me, the TAB board of directors for believing in me and Alabama Baptists for trusting me.”

As a Judson woman, I too am excited to see what God has in store of the future of The Alabama Baptist, and on March 2, the Alabama Baptist will host a lecture at Samford University where Dr. Terry will talk about the future of the publication.

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