It is with great excitement that I announce that we have asked Doug Baker to become Communications Team leader and executive editor of the Baptist Messenger. Baker, who presently serves as director of public relations for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, is eminently qualified to hold this position. He has served three governors, edited two magazines and led a foundation. He holds a theological degree from New Orleans Seminary, as well as a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Doug has served as an associate pastor and interim pastor.

I had the privilege of speaking with his references. They included David Dockery, president of Union University; David Sanders, a writer for the Wall Street Journal as well as a committed Southern Baptist; and Josh Trent, a lead staff member for United States Sen. Tom Coburn. All were extremely complimentary and stressed Doug’s writing skills, creativity, spiritual depth, preaching ability and work ethic. He was given high marks for his ability to converge the use of multiple media outlets with significant use of the Internet and podcasting in communicating the message of Christ and getting the news to God’s people.

Doug has a great grasp of Baptist polity and history. He understands and respects the centrality of the local church. He knows the place of the state convention and has many connections with significant people in the Southern Baptist Convention. Doug understands the deep theological strands that run through Baptist life. He sees the Messenger as both a news outlet for Baptists and a great teaching tool to inform and educate Baptists of our rich heritage and the doctrines that bind us together. He has a broad knowledge of the cutting edge issues swirling about us as Southern Baptists seek new methods while remaining anchored to the Word of God.

We are in a new era of communications. Newspapers across the nation are struggling. While the Baptist Messenger is the third largest paper in Oklahoma and remains one of the strongest state Baptist papers in the SBC, the challenges before us are great. In order to be effective in today’s world, communication must take place on multiple levels using a variety of venues and approaches. Baker brings a strong background in numerous communication methods.

In the next few years, the Baptist Messenger will celebrate its centennial. Our state paper has had a storied past with great editors. In recent years, Ray Sanders led our convention to expand the ministry of the Messenger and strengthen the role of communications in the life of the BGCO. I am confident that Doug Baker will stand on the shoulders of the innovative and effective leaders of the past as we tell the story of the work of Christ’s Kingdom through Oklahoma and Southern Baptists. I look forward to Oklahoma Baptists meeting Doug Baker through the printed page, preaching and personal interaction. You will see his creative, innovative and yet anchored approach to communication in the days ahead.

We gladly welcome Doug and his family to Oklahoma. Next week, the Messenger will introduce you to him, and he will begin his work with us Aug. 1.