Word & Way is officially a Baptist newspaper covering Baptist life not only in Missouri but the adjacent Midwest. The staff gathers coverage and tells Baptist stories originating in places like Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa and Illinois.
We filed updated Articles of Incorporation with the Missouri Secretary of State on Sept. 19 reflecting this expanded approach for which we have been preparing in recent years.
Outside of Missouri, our 118-year-old publication — in print, via email and online — does not compete with Southern Baptist-related state newspapers, but is trying to reach out to the broader Baptist family, including regional Cooperative Baptist Fellowship groups, churches affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and National Baptist denominations, among others.
For the past few years, our news operation has continued coverage of Missouri Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention causes, but it also has reached out to the Heartland and national CBF, Churchnet (Baptist General Convention of Missouri), the Baptist World Alliance and its area affiliates and those who relate to the New Baptist Covenant, an effort to build unity and common ground among cooperating Baptists across America.
After a generation of Baptist strife in Missouri, other states and nationally, Word & Way years ago made a fresh commitment to serve all Baptists in Missouri. Now it has stretched its editorial boundaries to cover more territory and a broader range of Baptists.
As an independent Baptist news operation, we hope to encourage reconciliation among Baptists, cooperation in kingdom matters and unity within a Baptist family weary of infighting. One way to do that is by recognizing the work and accomplishments of a broader Midwestern Baptist family that honestly acknowledges differences but values a common heritage and appreciates the rich diversity in its ranks.
We approach this matter of broader Baptist coverage and support with an eye on the long-time example of the Baptist World Alliance. Anyone who has attended — or read about — the BWA’s Baptist World Congress is fully aware of the diversity present in this every-five-year gathering. The 21st version is set for July 22-26 next year in Durban, South Africa. Sometimes attendees comfort each other and at other times celebrate victories and successes.
These Baptist encounters are helpful. They are one of the ways Baptists in the West put a face on the persecution some Baptists face on a regular basis in their own settings. They are learning experiences in more ways than most of us can count.
We continue to pursue warts-and-all coverage as we do news among Baptists, taking note when Baptists are not at their best but also when they are at their best. We have a long heritage of “telling the truth and trusting the people.” That has to be a part of what we do with future coverage if our readers are to trust us.
Frankly, Baptists at their best do not see themselves as self-sufficient “lone rangers” or without support from the larger Baptist body. At our best, we realize we need each other and have something to contribute to the rest of the Baptist family.
We continue to relate to — and contribute to — Baptist News Global (until recently, known as ABPnews/Herald). It is the primary way we share our region’s stories and our staff’s outstanding work with fellow Baptists and others across the country and around the world.
This was another good year for Word & Way in the two awards competitions in which we participate.
In the Baptist Communicators Association competition, Associate Editor Vicki Brown took first place in feature writing (750-1,500 words) for “Ordinary Minda Cox finds voice, vision at SBU,” first place for feature writing series or package for “Communication breakdown” and third place for feature writing series or package for “We gather together.”
Associated Church Press, the oldest religious press association in America, gave Word & Way an honorable mention in the Best-in-Class competition among regional newspapers and awarded an honorable mention to Brown in the In-Depth category for “Communication breakdown.”
We want to thank every reader, advertiser, individual donor, church or organizational giver — all of our friends — for the valuable support they provide us in many ways as we pursue our mission to inspire, inform and motivate our Baptist constituents.
See our Oct. 23 print edition for our annual institutional reports special section and learn more about several higher education and ministry entities.
Bill Webb is editor of Word & Way.