On May 15 this year, the Baptist Messenger will reach a milestone that few publications do. We will celebrate our 100th anniversary. In anticipation of this important moment, we are launching a series focused on the Messenger’s storied past.
Called “10 decades in 10 weeks,” the series will contain a collection of information, headlines and sampling from each decade of its existence.
In 1912, the year the Messenger was born, a number of other notable events occurred. The Titanic struck an iceburg on April 14 and would tragically sink. Nabisco debuted its now famous Oreo cookie. Speaking of cookies makes me think of milk, which according to records cost 36 cents a gallon in 1912.
Meanwhile, the price for an annual subscription to the Baptist Messenger was $2. (One hundred years later, by the way, a subscription costs only $13.75 per year).
In the Aug. 9, 1962 edition of the Messenger (which commemorated the 50 year anniversary), it said:
“Fifty years ago, the Baptist Messenger began as a dream in the heart of a man. He was a Baptist preacher who had moved to the new state of Oklahoma from Washington, D.C. He saw that Oklahoma Baptists needed a publication which would unite them in spirit and effort. . . . C.P. Stealey saw the need for a Baptist paper which would promote the causes, stand for the truth and provide a spiritual blessing to the churches and people.”
From that vision, through the decades, to today, the Baptist Messenger has fulfilled that very role.
The inaugural edition on May 15, 1912, contained stories about the work of the Foreign (Now International) and Home (Now North American) Mission Boards, Christian education, teaching about Christian doctrine and theology and the Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home.
It was not long after that the convention’s board determined that the Baptist Messenger should become its official news journal and purchased the newspaper from Stealey for $5,000 under the condition that he would continue to serve as editor. Since Stealey’s era, 10 others have served as editor of the newspaper.
Today, the Baptist Messenger is mailed to nearly 58,000 households every week, making it the third-largest newspaper in the state of Oklahoma. In November 2011, Messenger Digital was launched, a full online edition of the Baptist Messenger, along with the Messenger Mobile companion app.
In the time in between, many events and much ministry has occurred. There, all along, the Baptist Messenger has been there to report it.
At the conclusion of the “10 decades” series, we will look forward to the bright future of the Messenger, which is well-positioned for the fast-changing world of communications. We also intend to debut some new features that we hope you will like.
I sometimes get asked about how I see the future outlook of the Baptist Messenger. My reply is that the future looks bright. I say this not out of presumptuousness, but because I believe the future of Oklahoma Baptists looks bright.
After all, the Baptist Messenger is but a reflection of you, our readers. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16 HCSB)
Much in the way that Oklahoma Baptist University is “our university,” as Oklahoma Baptists, we want you always to view the Baptist Messenger as “our paper.” To that end, we hope you enjoy the “10 decades in 10 weeks” series.