NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Longtime trusted sources for information and inspiration, Southern Baptist media are now being celebrated and recognized with a day to call their own: Southern Baptist Media Day. Recently added to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) calendar, Southern Baptist Media Day, on July 28, is set aside to celebrate how God has used and continues to use Southern Baptist media in His mission.
“In the 30 years I have served in Southern Baptist communications, first as a curriculum editor and now as leader of a state Baptist news service, I have witnessed how God uses media – in all its forms – to inform, inspire and involve Baptists in the mission of Jesus Christ,” said Tim Yarbrough, editor of Arkansas Baptist News, and immediate past president of Association of State Baptist Publications (ASBP).
“The lives impacted by Southern Baptist media are without a doubt immeasurable,” he said.
Southern Baptist media were birthed by missions nearly 200 years ago. Georgia’s The Christian Index was established as the first Baptist state paper in 1822, after the 1814 formation of the Triennial Convention, forerunner of the SBC, which was founded in 1845.
Known for its first 44 years as The Columbian Star, the weekly Baptist newspaper, the outgrowth of the work of legendary missions leader Luther Rice, was “a national effort to encourage support for the early missions endeavors of Rice’s friends like Adoniram and Ann Judson (missionaries to Burma, now Myanmar),” according to christianindex.org. Ten other Baptist state papers, still being published today, were founded in the 1800s, according to the 2018 SBC Annual.
In the almost two centuries since the launch of The Index, Southern Baptist media have grown exponentially and adapted dramatically to opportunities offered by the ever-expanding world of technology. The 2018 SBC Annual reports a total of 37 state Baptist papers, with a total circulation of 621,521.
Many of those state papers offer a combination of print and digital versions. Some state papers, including The Index, have moved to a digital-only format, tapping the benefits of technology to reach their audiences while at the same time alleviating the escalating costs of printing and mailing. Some state papers offer editions of their publications in languages other than English.
The Baptist Press (BP), Southern Baptists’ international daily news service, was birthed in 1946, and its website was launched in 1996. Originally formed at the suggestion of Baptist state paper editors, BP has grown into one of the largest religious news services in the United States. BP also provides news and opinion for the Hispanic Baptist community through a weekly webpage in Spanish.
Beyond state papers and BP, today’s Southern Baptist media include many SBC entity publications, websites, curriculum, campaigns for special mission offerings, podcasts, photography and videography, and more.
“Media and communications have continued to change and evolve in the 174 years the Southern Baptist Convention has existed,” Yarbrough said. “Southern Baptists are embracing new and innovative ways of communicating the gospel through new media.”
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