By Bob Terry
Editor, The Alabama Baptist
The first issue of this publication was dated Feb. 4, 1843. That was a Saturday. Since that time The Alabama Baptist has continually provided information, inspiration, interpretation and involvement opportunities for readers across the state and beyond.
Through the years the publication has helped unite Alabama Baptists and its editors often led Alabama Baptists.
For the first 75 years the financial struggles of private ownership caused the paper to change hands several times. Often the new owners changed the name of the paper — names like The Alabama Baptist Advocate and The South Western Baptist.
For a time the paper was the primary voice of Baptists serving an area stretching from Alabama to Texas and from Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico.
But the publication never wavered from its service to Alabama Baptists. As agreed at the 1843 state Baptist convention, The Alabama Baptist has always been “employed by the officers of the convention as the organ through which they shall confer with the churches connected with this body.”
During this 175th anniversary celebration, monthly articles will feature highlights from the paper’s intriguing history. In between those articles weekly anecdotes will focus on other interesting stories.
A major emphasis of the celebration will be publication of the first book devoted to the history of The Alabama Baptist. The fully illustrated book is being written by Elizabeth Wells, retired archivist for Samford University in Birmingham and librarian for Samford’s Special Collection and Archives department. It is scheduled for release in September.
Other planned events include a 175th birthday party scheduled for Feb. 6, 2018, in Marion where the paper was first published. A month later, Samford and the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission are helping sponsor a Symposium on the Ministry and Impact of The Alabama Baptist. That event will be held at Samford on March 2, 2018.
Plans also call for a feature on the state Baptist paper in district associational meetings in the fall.
Today The Alabama Baptist functions as an entity of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, owned and operated by an elected board of directors. It is the largest-circulated state Baptist paper among Southern Baptists.
But The Alabama Baptist is more than a printed paper. A digital edition of the publication is available. The ministry provides a Latest News daily newsfeed as well as Breaking News alerts. A mobile-responsive website provides important news from the world of religion and the ministry archives provides digital access to more than 36,000 articles.
The Alabama Baptist remains a dynamic ministry with a bright future. Celebrating its 175 years of ministry will affirm the strong foundation on which this growing ministry will build for the future.
Editor’s Note: This editorial was originally published in The Alabama Baptist in February 2017.