Who was Editor Hudson Baggett?

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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

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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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About thealabamabaptist

State Baptist newspaper serving Baptists in Alabama, providing information, inspiration and interpretation as well as challenging readers to serve and find opportunities for ministry that further the kingdom of God.
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