By Bill Webb
Saying goodbye to a staff member is one of those things I dread the most. That probably is because I have worked with wonderful, committed people through the years. It is time for us at Word&Way to say goodbye to our fine associate editor, Vicki Brown. Vicki has decided to pursue some dreams that she has nurtured for several years, and this is the final issue with her at the helm as associate editor.
God has a way of working things out when you least expect it and in ways that are better than you can imagine. I remember when Vicki first contacted me. She had been the editor of a twice-weekly newspaper in Texas before she and Calvin moved to Jefferson City, where he became director of missions for Concord Baptist Association. Vicki was looking for a position, so she made an appointment.
It was January 2002. Only two months earlier, the decision had been made to escrow Cooperative Program funds earmarked for Word&Way (and four other Missouri Baptist institutions). We were hardly on a hiring binge. In fact, attrition had meant that we had cut back our editorial staff by two positions, leaving me and hard-working news writer Shawn Hendricks to handle production of the newspaper.
I was glad Vicki wanted to stop by if only to get acquainted. Journalist-types always like to meet other journalist-types. Besides, we never know when a vacancy might occur.
Toward the end of our visit, I reminded Vicki that we simply did not have an opening that we could fill, at least not then. She responded that she really felt that she was supposed to be working for Word&Way. I took her to mean right then. We talked a little more. I thought how hard Shawn and I had been working. Finally, I floated a possibility. While we could not take on another full-time employee, perhaps part-time was possible. We each agreed to pray about it and touch base within a week.
The rest is history, but that isn’t the end of the story. Within a few weeks, Shawn had the opportunity to become a writer for the International Mission Board. Vicki succeeded him in the full-time news writer position. A little over a year ago, Vicki was named associate editor, a formal recognition of the service she already had been rendering.
Vicki’s tenacity in the job interview tipped me off to the kind of journalist she is. She has been a tenacious reporter. That’s the highest praise you can give a journalist. Vicki followed up on news leads aggressively. She still does. Vicki is not very big, but she is fearless. People do not intimidate her, regardless of their size or the volume of their voice.
Those who have been interviewed by Vicki know she is a skilled interviewer. She and I work in adjacent offices and share a thin wall. Conversations are easily overheard, as are telephone interviews. What I have overheard is a professional who has dug deep into stories, effectively engaging people who have information to share or stories to tell. In journalism, interviewing is an art and writing is a skill. Vicki excels at both.
Vicki is a straight shooter who consistently does her work in a professional and ethical manner. She is highly respected across Missouri and beyond.
Vicki demonstrates a high level of spiritual sensitivity and maturity, setting high standards for herself. She strives to be all that God would desire. She is one of those people in our office who reaches out to others in times of crisis or difficulty. Colleagues seek her out for counsel. She is a mature and maturing Christian.
One of Vicki’s most endearing qualities is that she is a dreamer, and that’s the reason she is leaving our staff. She has nurtured long-held dreams, waiting for just the right time to pursue them. She also has sought God’s timing. She plans to complete a master’s degree, with an eye toward earning a doctorate after that.
Vicki will continue her writing career — as a freelancer — and she has agreed to take periodic Word&Way assignments. She also will seek speaking opportunities, particularly in conference settings. She is a former missionary to Tanzania, and missions motivates her. She is a pastor’s wife, and she feels strongly that she can reach out to minister to the needs of others like her. In fact, she has multiple areas of knowledge and expertise. For Vicki, this is a faith venture. I am praying that God will bless her in her freelance writing, in a speaking ministry, in her educational pursuits and in whatever else He has in store for her.
I want to thank Vicki for her tireless service. During one of the most challenging times in Word&Way’s long history, she talked me into a job. And it has been one of the best descisions I have ever made. Back in early 2002, we didn’t know exactly what we would need or who would best fit this role, but God did. His timing and His provision were no accident. God bless you, Vicki.