RALEIGH, N.C. (ABP) – Directors and friends of Associated Baptist Press gathered April 30 at First Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., to honor what one speaker called “the legacy of a generous man.”
ABP directors presented posthumously the Founders Award -- recognizing significant financial and professional contributions to the autonomous news service based in Jacksonville, Fla. – to Ed Vick, a layman and generous benefactor to ABP who served on the board of directors 17 years before resigning just before his death last May to cancer.
“Ed Vick was the kind of man that when God got through creating him, God threw away the mold,” Randall Lolley, Vick’s former pastor and a longtime moderate leader, said.
Lolley recalled in the late 1980s that Baptists were “struggling” on all sides of a variety of issues. Some decided it was time to do something new, and in a meeting to discuss what to call the initiative someone suggested “United Baptists.”
Lolley described watching Vick walk to a microphone and wondering what he was going to say, quoting to the best of his memory: “Baptists have never and Baptists never will be united,” Lolley recalled. “But he said we can cooperate, so let’s call ourselves the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”
“It stuck,” Lolley said. “We did and we do.”
As denominational news services were becoming “house organs,” Lolley said, Vick was the first laymen he heard declare the need for a free and autonomous press. “We didn’t need another house organ,” Lolley said, “so Associated Baptist Press was born.”
“A free church movement cannot long endure unless there is some mechanism of truth telling,” Lolley said. With the help of people like Vick, Lolley said ABP has “done as much as humanly possible of producing a model of spin-free truth telling.”
“Ed had a great vision for ABP,” Lolley said. “He carried out a lot of it, but a lot of it is unfinished business. He has placed the banner in our hands.”
ABP Executive Director David Wilkinson remembered Vick as a “true friend and trusted adviser.”
“Ed understood clearly the value of a free and autonomous press for free Baptists,” Wilkinson said. “Ed Vick made ABP better. Ed Vick made the board of directors better. Ed Vick made me better.”
Accepting the award was Vick’s widow, Laura Anne. “The spouses become almost as important to the board as the board members,” ABP board chairman Dan Lattimore said. “She has been a part of us.”
“When Ed joined things, I was included,” she said, “and I’m glad I was included.” Vick recalled traveling with her husband to Nashville in 1994 and wondering why a transportation engineer would want to be involved in a press organization.
“It didn’t take long at that first meeting to realize how important Associated Baptist Press really was,” she said. “After attending that first meeting I realized that Associated Baptist Press wasn’t just another organization.”
“ABP will always have a very special place in my life,” she said. “Not just because of Ed, but because of what I truly believe also, the reason for ABP. It is of ultimate importance that we are kept informed.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.