JEFFERSON CITY — Truth mattered when Sanford M. Brown established Word&Way in 1896. And truth still matters, several individuals declared Sept. 30 at the public launch of the newsjournal's capital campaign — Truth Matters.
The five-year campaign has secured nearly $370,000 in gifts and pledges in its private phase since Jan. 1, editor Bill Webb announced. The fundraising effort's goal is $500,000 each year.
The campaign includes a $50,000 Tom and Virginia Field Memorial Fund to honor Field as former pastor of First Baptist Church, Springfield, and past president of William Jewell and Missouri Baptist colleges. The Fields' daughters and their husbands — Linda and Don Duncan and Becky and Jim Montgomery — endorsed the fund to honor their parents' ministry among Baptists in Missouri.
Webb also made public a $50,000 grant received earlier this year from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, named for the founders of what is now the Sysco Corp. The Baughs were personal supporters of Word&Way until their deaths in 2007.
Their daughter, Babs Baugh, and granddaughters, Jackie Moore and Julie Ortiz, administer the foundation's grant program. "[Babs] and her family are very aware of Word&Way's pilgrimage, especially over the past decade, and they enthusiastically stand with us," Webb said.
The Sept. 30 luncheon event included testimonies from two campaign contributors.
Watching her husband agonize over decisions about the newsjournal's future was an impetus for Betty Cox to make a Truth Matters pledge to the endowment fund. Bob Cox became acquainted with the paper while assigned to the Word&Way committee as a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board.
He was a charter trustee when Word&Way became a separate MBC agency in 2001 and changed its articles of incorporation that year to elect its own trustees. The convention brought legal action against the newsjournal and four other entities in an effort to regain control.
"He thought it was important to get the truth out…. He agonized over the decision," Betty Cox said. "I'm proud of him and proud of Word&Way."
"What hath God wrought?" Samuel Morse asked his assistant Alfred Vail as the first words to traverse Morse's invention, the telegraph. Former Word&Way trustee Leland May asked the oft-quoted question as he explained why he supports the capital campaign and encourages others to do so.
May, a retired Northwest Missouri State University professor, listed four reasons why he and wife Linda are giving through the campaign.
He gives because of the newsjournal's reporting. "Word&Way reports practically all the Baptist news," he said, including news about Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, the Missouri Baptist Convention and other Baptist groups — a broad spectrum. "In all those entities, I do have some friends," he said.
He noted the campaign name — Truth Matters. Even "the warts" Baptists sometimes have can be shown because truth matters, he noted.
May believes Word&Way "stands the test of time." Great writers of the past often were supported by patrons, he said. Like those patrons, individuals today need to support the newsjournal.
The former trustee told about planting trees on his property. When a friend mentioned that May would not live long enough to benefit once the trees matured, he simply responded that following generations would.
The Mays pledged "because we want to leave something for others…. We want Word&Way to stand the test of time," he said. "Is there a better way to invest my money than in trees and the Word&Way?"
Jim Hill, president of RDI Consulting and Truth Matters consultant, urged attendees to encourage their churches to support Word&Way, urge fellow Baptists to subscribe and consider becoming campaign volunteers.