Call the fire department to put out the candles! Contact Willard Scott and have him get the jelly jar label ready! The Baptist Messenger celebrates its centennial on May 15. Yes, 100 years of serving Oklahoma Baptists by telling the stories of their work and ministry from the front door of the church to the ends of the Earth. From humble beginnings, the Baptist Messenger has grown to be the third largest newspaper in Oklahoma.
I have greatly appreciated the last few weeks of articles reviewing the decades of stories and events that were told through the Messenger. Some years ago, I took time to peruse copies from the Messenger’s beginning until the present. It was a tremendous journey through the ministry, struggles, victories and impact of Oklahoma Baptists. This journey gave me a deep sense of connection to our forefathers who forged together the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and set the table for the abundant work we are able to do today.
The Baptist Messenger is a vital link for all Oklahoma Baptists in our desire to work together. This newspaper has long been the hallmark of Oklahoma Baptists in recognizing that we can do more together than alone. The Baptist Messenger connects us to one another and tells the stories of our “together” ministry. I know of no communication piece that consistently ties us together more effectively. While our churches are autonomous in polity, we are not independent. The stories told in the Messenger help us see the collective effectiveness of our cooperative efforts.
The Messenger is not a separate organization, but is owned and operated by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. It is not designed to be a hard-hitting independent news source. The Messenger has never been—nor will be in the future—a tell-all newspaper that seeks scandals or attempts to expose the bad. We have chosen to be a mouthpiece for the work of our churches, associations and conventions. Baptist people need to know what others are doing and be encouraged by it.
The Messenger serves to bring the mission field in Oklahoma, our nation and world up close; therefore, missions has always taken precedence in our paper. Stories of the impact of our missionaries and mission involvement of our churches stir passion for greater mission action by all of us.
Thankfully the Messenger has also been a teaching tool. Baptist doctrine has been proclaimed and taught through its pages. For many years the inimitable Herschel Hobbs wrote a column on the Baptist Faith and Message. In more recent times, Alan Day gave clear and succinct insight into our Baptist doctrine. Today through the Messenger Insight editions, theological truth with practical implications are set forth.
I am proud that the Messenger has kept up with the changing ways of communication. Last year, the Baptist Messenger launched the digital Messenger. In addition, there are Messenger podcasts that give us an opportunity to be heard as well as be read.
Congratulations to Brian Hobbs, editor, and to all who have gone before, on celebrating 100 years of faithful service to Oklahoma Baptists! Thank you for keeping us informed and inspired to do the work of the Kingdom together.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.