The Alabama Baptist: Reflecting on its Ministry

The Alabama Baptist_Examining its Impact-4

Join us at a symposium celebrating the history of The Alabama Baptist and its impact.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with the speakers beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Topics include:

  • Journalism Standards through the Years
    • By Troy University Assistant Professor Steve Stewart
  • Role in Theological Controversies
    • By Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George
  • Impact on Alabama Baptists and Beyond
    • By Samford Associate Professor J. Mark Baggett
  • The Ministry’s Future
    • By Editor Bobby S. Terry

Lunch with be provided for pre-registered participants.

To pre-register for this important symposium, contact Mrs. Linda Harrison at 205-870-4720, ext. 109, or email

Deadline to pre-register is February 28, 2018.

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“All men are created equal”

mother christmas thomas.jpg

While Alabama and the rest of the nation struggled with race relations, Editor Hudson Baggett illustrated his view on the subject by incorporating employee Thomas Felder into the family. “Mrs. Baggett became like my mom; her sons like my brothers,” said Felder. Above the family is pictured at a Christmas dinner. Photo courtesy of the Baggett family


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Commemorate this Alabama Baptist milestone with your very own copy of our anniversary book



“Got my book today. Outstanding job. Couldn’t put it down.  My compliments to everyone for this masterpiece.” – Jim Oakley. The Alabama Baptist file photo

There’s still time to purchase your copy of “The Alabama Baptist: Celebrating 175 Years of Informing, Inspiring and Connecting Baptists.”

Visit here for hardcover and here for paperback.

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Alabama Baptists leading across the country


In the early 1980s six native Alabamians served as editors of state Baptist papers. Shown above (from left to right) are James Langley, editor of Capitol Baptist in Washington, D.C; Jack Brymer, Florida Baptist Witness; Jack Harwell, Christian Index in Georgia; Hudson Baggett, The Alabama Baptist; and Bobby S. Terry, Missouri’s Word & Way. Not shown is Ellis Bush, editor of Penn-Jersey Baptist. Bobby S. Terry would go on to become the editor of The Alabama Baptist in 1995.
The Alabama Baptist file photo

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A day of prayer, worship and celebration



Dr. Susan Stevenson, MMI executive vice president and chief academic officer, takes a group of guests on tours of the Marion Military Institute to kick off the day of celebration. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Editor Bob Terry presents Scott Bullard, senior vice president and academic dean
associate professor of religious studies at Judson College, with a framed copy of the first issue of The Alabama BaptistThe Alabama Baptist file photo


The Judson Singers perform hymns as we worship during morning chapel. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Ms. Susan Jones, Senior Vice President and Dean of Students at Judson College, leads the crowd in a benediction and prayer of blessing. The Alabama Baptist file photo


John Nicholson, pastor of Siloam Baptist Church, leads guests in a prayer for the future of The Alabama Baptist and for Christians around the world. The Alabama Baptist file photo


George and Leah Washburn lead everyone in a special Happy Birthday song for The Alabama Baptist before it’s time for cake and punch. The Alabama Baptist file photo


As we conclude the day, guests enjoy the delicious cakes and punch provided by Judson College. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Editor-elect of The Alabama Baptist, Jennifer Rash, signs a copy of TAB‘s book and discusses the challenges and joys of working in journalism with one of Judson College’s journalism students. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Haley Piersol and other TAB staff assist guests with questions about our new book or newspaper subscriptions. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Editor Bob Terry discusses the history and future of TAB with guests. The Alabama Baptist file photo


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Theological division between the east and west


Should the Southern Baptist Convention divide east and west? That was the question in 1920 when theological uneasiness helped generate a larger attendance at the annual meeting in Washington, D. C. than the facility could hold. Gwaltney opposed the idea saying both groups had enough common ground to work together.
Photo courtesy of Special Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, Alabama


According to the June 22, 1845, issue of The Alabama Baptist:

Readers began arguing over the $250 contribution to convention causes required in the new Southern Baptist Convention constitution. One writer scored the “extravagant estimate put upon the privilege of membership.” Another added, “The price of membership should be only in proportion to the actual expenses of the convention and not an inducement for anyone to give to missions.” (TAB)

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Basil Manly and the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention


The second president of the University of Alabama (1837-1855) and a noted Baptist preacher, Basil Manly exercised significant leadership among Alabama Baptists. In 1844 Manly championed the Alabama Resolutions which helped lead a separation from the Triennial Convention and to the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845.
Photo courtesy of Special Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, Alabama


According to the March 22, 1845, issue of The Alabama Baptist:

A resolution by the Virginia Board of Foreign Missions was printed calling for Baptists of the South to meet in Augusta, Georgia, to confer about the best way of promoting foreign missions causes. The resolution came after the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions of the Triennial Convention told Alabama Baptists they would not appoint a slave holder as missionary or accept money from a church of slave holders because to do so would imply acceptance of slavery. (TAB)

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Thank you!

We want to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who came to Marion to celebrate our 175th birthday with us! The day was a huge success and it couldn’t have happened without the support of our readers.

We also want to personally thank Judson College and Siloam Baptist Church for partnering with us and helping the birthday party run smoothly.

Special thanks as well to Reverie and the Marion Military Institute for opening up their facilities for our special day.

To anyone who didn’t make it, we missed you dearly and we hope you will choose to celebrate this occasion by purchasing our new book “The Alabama Baptist: Celebrating 175 Years of Informing, Inspiring and Connecting Baptists” or by attending the symposium at Samford University on March 2nd.

Celebrating our history and future

At the birthday party, the newspaper’s editor-elect Jennifer Rash spoke on the legacy of Julia Tarrant Barron, the lone woman among the founders of The Alabama Baptist. Barron played an instrumental role in starting The Alabama Baptist, as well as in founding Judson College and Howard College, now Samford University. Just as Barron remained faithful to the mission of the church throughout her life, Rash encouraged everyone to remain faithful in their lives and walks with Christ.

The authors of the book, Elizabeth Wells and Grace Thornton, each gave historical presentations on the history of The Alabama Baptist and the editors that have led the paper to where it is today. All of the editors have faced struggles, but each of them have overcome those struggles and remained committed to the paper.

It is to the founders of The Alabama Baptist, the many editors of the paper, the numerous staff members and boards of directors who have contributed to the paper throughout the years, and of course, the readers, that we owe all these years of success. We hope our 175th year is our best one yet and that there are many more years of service to come.


Editor-elect Jennifer Rash shares about Julia Tarrant Barron and her unyielding faithfulness. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Retired Samford University archivist Elizabeth Wells describes the important role that Marion had in the founding and success of The Alabama Baptist. The Alabama Baptist file photo


Author and award-winning journalist Grace Thornton details the lives and struggles of the latest four editors of The Alabama Baptist: L. L. Gwaltney, Leon Macon, Hudson Baggett and Bobby S. Terry.  The Alabama Baptist file photo




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Who is Editor Bobby S. Terry?


Newly elected editor Bobby S. “Bob” Terry and his wife Eleanor enter the offices of The Alabama Baptist for the first time. Terry had been editor of the Missouri state Baptist paper for 20 years at the time of his call to Alabama. Eleanor had served in the administration of William Jewell College after earning her Ph.D.
The Alabama Baptist file photo


In 1998, Editor Bob Terry’s wife Eleanor died from injuries suffered following an automobile accident while attending a Baptist World Alliance meeting in Durban, South Africa. The taxi in which the Terrys were riding was broadsided by a speeding car that ran a traffic light. Eleanor Terry died nine days later, and while Bob Terry survived the accident, he endured a series of six surgeries over a two-year period during his recovery.
The Alabama Baptist file photo


On March 22, 2002, Editor Bob Terry was married to Patricia Creel Hart, a professor at Samford University and former Southern Baptist Convention international missionary. The couple met while Terry served as interim pastor of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Hueytown, Pat’s home church.
The Alabama Baptist file photo

Bobby S. “Bob” Terry was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Leldon and Opal (Hill) Terry, both of Lawrence County, Alabama. In the early 1950s, the family migrated from a family cotton farm to the factories of Michigan. There, Terry made his profession of faith in First Southern Baptist Church of Ypsilanti, Michigan, and later felt called into vocational ministry.

Following that call, he enrolled at Mississippi College in Clinton from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. While a student, he served as minister of music at Port Gibson Baptist Church, Port Gibson, Mississippi, followed by two years as youth pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi.

A football injury doomed dreams of being a college athlete so Terry began writing sports news for the college newspaper. Later he was hired as general news writer for the college’s public relations department.

While a student Terry met and married Eleanor Foster of Vicksburg, Mississippi, who earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree from Mississippi College.

Following graduation the couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Terry studied at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary earning a Master of Divinity degree. While there he served as pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Owen County, Kentucky. He also worked as news director for the seminary for two years.

Following graduation, Terry prepared for graduate studies but an invitation from the Kentucky Baptist state paper redirected his life. Terry was asked to become associate editor of Western Recorder. He accepted the position hoping to learn about Southern Baptists from the inside before returning to the pastorate. Instead, he spent the rest of his ministry in state Baptist papers. However, he never lost his desire to work in the local church serving scores of interim pastorates throughout his active ministry.

At age 32, Terry became the youngest state paper editor in Southern Baptist life when he accepted the call of Missouri Baptists to become editor of Word & Way, a position he held for 20 years. Not only did he complete his doctoral studies during that time, his wife Eleanor completed her Ph.D. and accepted a position with William Jewell College, a Baptist college in the state.

The couple’s two children, Brent and Jean, both graduated from William Jewell.

In addition to editing the weekly publication, Terry coordinated a four-year missions partnership between Missouri Baptists and Baptists of Taiwan. He led three different statewide media evangelism campaigns as well as directed three statewide ballot issue campaigns opposing gambling and parochial aid. He also served as executive secretary of the Southern Baptist Press Association, now the Association of State Baptist Papers.

In 1995, Terry was unanimously elected editor of The Alabama Baptist. His immediate focus was on quality journalism and statewide coverage. The Alabama Baptist has been named best regional Christian newspaper in America 11 times since Terry became editor. More than 200 individual awards have been received by the paper and various staff members during his 22 years as editor.

To ensure statewide coverage, the paper set a goal of covering every association in the state at least twice each year, a goal it has consistently met.

Terry has been active beyond Alabama Baptists. He served on the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Executive Committee for 10 years, national treasurer for Bread for the World for five years and president of Associated Church Press as well as 10 years as a board member. Locally he was president of Community Grief Support Service for five years and served two years as vice president of the Birmingham Rotary Club. He has served on local mental health boards and United Way committees. He is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama.

In 1998, Terry’s wife Eleanor died from injuries suffered following an automobile accident while attending a BWA meeting in Durban, South Africa. Four years later, Terry married Patricia Creel Hart, a professor at Samford University in Birmingham and a former Southern Baptist Convention missionary serving in Venezuela. The family lives in Vestavia Hills.

The Terrys are members of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood and continue to be active in numerous religious, civic and professional organizations.

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Who was Editor Hudson Baggett?


Howard College religion professor Hudson Baggett, left, was the choice to succeed Leon Macon as editor of The Alabama Baptist. Above, Baggett receives a framed copy of the first issue (February 4, 1843) of The Alabama Baptist from Andrew Tampling, chairman of the publication’s Board of Directors and pastor of First Baptist Church, Birmingham.
Photo courtesy of Special Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, Alabama

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Even in the midst of tensions, the down-to-earth Hudson Baggett contended, “I have learned that we need each other. No matter how much we disagree, most of us agree on the things that really matter.”
The Alabama Baptist file photo


Editor Hudson Baggett was a popular guest in the pulpits of churches large and small. He was noted for his humor as well as the biblical insightfulness that marked his career as a professor of religion at Howard College (now Samford University). On the day before his death he turned his annual report into a sermon at the 1994 annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.
The Alabama Baptist file photo

Hudson Doyle Baggett was born in Arkadelphia, Alabama, on July 23, 1923, to Elbert B. and Audie (King) Baggett, and later worked for his father in the coal distribution business. Baggett enrolled in Howard College as a religion major in 1941, but he enlisted in the army as a private on June 30, 1942. He was wounded in World War II and received the Purple Heart.

When Baggett returned to Howard after the war, he served as vice president of the sophomore class, was a member of Alpha Phi Omega and the Ministerial Association and he was an outstanding basketball player for the “Y” veterans team. He met June Stewart at the school, and they married September 7, 1946, in East Tallassee, Alabama. Both graduated from Howard.

Following graduation, the couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky, so Baggett could attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned three degrees: bachelor of divinity, master of theology and doctor of theology with a major in homiletics. June graduated from the Carver School of Missions. While in Kentucky, Baggett served as pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Meade County and served as moderator of Salem Baptist Association for three years. Later in Alabama, he served as pastor of Panama Baptist Church in Cullman, Shades Valley Baptist Church in Birmingham and First Baptist Church of Florence.

Leaving Florence in 1958, the Baggetts moved to Birmingham with their three children, Mark, Dale and Tim. Baggett returned to Howard College as an instructor in English but rose to full professor of religion by 1965. In addition to his teaching load, he also directed the Howard College Extension Division of Christian Training.

On May 13, 1966, Hudson Baggett was installed as editor of The Alabama Baptist. He was introduced as someone who had been a preacher’s friend and was a preacher “of no mean ability” himself. Baggett responded, “I pledge dedication to the task of seeking, interpreting and presenting the truth in the light of study and research. I covet your prayers.”

In 1973, he published a special Sesquicentennial celebratory issue of the paper for the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s 150th anniversary. In May 1975, he wrote about plans for the paper’s new home, and in June 1976, the new building was dedicated, debt free.

Baggett, always concerned about the paper’s financial status, planned wisely. He presented readers and the convention with figures of actual publishing costs and asked for additional convention funding, while urging more subscribers.

He continually promoted all state and convention missions efforts and Woman’s Missionary Union. He urged peace and reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention. He wrote, “We believe that the majority of Southern Baptists are weary of conflicts and wish to move our convention in the direction of more cooperation and good will.”

In addition to his weekly editorials, the editor wrote Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Sunday School Board (which later became LifeWay Christian Resources) and contributed to the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists. He had published articles on preaching in Proclaim, a BSSB publication. Baggett also served on the Board of Trustees for Southern Seminary and was active in the Southern Baptist Press Association.

On November 16, 1994, Baggett presented the annual report of The Alabama Baptist at the state convention. In typical Baggett style, he included a mini sermon. Sadly, the next day Baggett had a massive heart attack and died in Point Clear, Alabama, where he and June had gone for a quick getaway following the convention. Sorely missed by Alabama leaders and church members, “Mr. Alabama Baptist” would be remembered for his motto: Make light, not heat.

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