By Bill Webb
Imagine my surprise when I opened the March 9 issue and discovered most of two pages noting my 10th anniversary at Word&Way.
Yes, I was aware that a story was in the works. Associate editor Vicki Brown had asked to have a page without anything assigned to it, and acknowledged upon questioning why it was needed. The condition was that I was to keep my eyes off this page until after it had gone to press Monday evening. The one page obviously grew to two.
The matter of my March 1 anniversary had come up the week before when the Word&Way staff surprised me with cards and a break time together with goodies.
The day after we completed the March 9 issue and sent it to our printer, our board of trustees came to town for their regular March meeting. They took note of my tenure in their meeting, presenting a framed certificate from the Missouri Baptist Historical Society and the William E. Partee Center for Historical Baptist Studies during the meeting.
The biggest surprise came as the trustee meeting and a subsequent committee meeting came to an end and I left our upper level meeting room to return to my office. That's when I discovered our staff and trustees had done it again.
They and a few dozen friends had gathered for a surprise reception. Generous words were spoken and gifts were presented — among them a framed print of the governor's mansion by local Baptist artist Jim Dyke and a book of cards and letters from current and former colleagues and other friends.
Our fine staff and trustees did more than they should, but I will be forever grateful for every gesture of appreciation.
This kind of work might not appeal to a lot of people, but it is pretty much all I have known since seeds were planted in my high school journalism class 40 years ago. Baptist journalism has been my calling since before I received my first full-time denominational position 25 years ago this June at what was then the Foreign (now International) Mission Board.
My call to Baptist journalism and a commitment to missions found a common home in my IMB work and in my subsequent 21 years as a state Baptist newspaper editor. Not everyone is able to do what he (or she) believes God has led him to do for his life's work. It is a privilege to have had these special opportunities.
I am grateful that our trustees have not only permitted Word&Way and its staff to function as a free and responsible press but have insisted that we operate in that way. They've been willing to go to the mat in support of this important principle. They have encouraged our staff to tell the truth and trust the people. I am grateful they allow me to serve as editor.
Word&Way has been blessed by talented and committed staff members throughout its lengthy history. I have been blessed by those with whom I have worked, and by those who through the years have left their imprint. Columnists, Bible study writers and others have been valuable contributors.
Our readers have permitted me to enjoy a special bond with them. Missouri Baptist churches have been a constant source of support and a fertile environment for news and feature stories. Advertisers have helped our bottom line even as we have faithfully placed their messages in the hands of our readers. Hundreds of donors have stepped up to help keep Word&Way strong. No one knows how many prayers have been offered for our ministry and its staff during the past few years. Thank you.
I am most grateful to God for allowing me to be involved in His service. I have been blessed over and over again.