The Alabama Baptist prepares to celebrate 175-year anniversary

Plans for a yearlong celebration of the 175th anniversary of The Alabama Baptist newspaper were approved during the Oct. 7–8 meeting of the ministry’s board of directors in Birmingham.

The Alabama Baptist was first published on Feb. 4, 1843, in Marion and has been in continuous circulation since that time.

Directors approved three major events as part of the celebration along with other regular emphases.

4Plans call for the first history of The Alabama Baptist to be published in 2017. The book’s working title is “The Alabama Baptist: 175 years of Informing, Inspiring and Connecting Baptists.” It will be available beginning Sept. 1, 2017.

4On Feb. 6, 2018, The Alabama Baptist will return to its founding site in Marion for an official birthday party.

4A month later, March 2, 2018, the impact of the paper’s ministry on Baptist life and beyond will be the subject of a symposium jointly sponsored by Samford University in Birmingham, the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and The Alabama Baptist.

In addition monthly articles in the publication will highlight issues and events in Alabama Baptist life and the publication’s impact on those concerns.

Weekly feature

Historical photographs also will be released each week through social media. The goal will be to stimulate interest in Baptist history and the paper’s continued chronicling of that history.

A 10-minute historical presentation also is being developed to be shared with Baptist associations in 2017.

Editor Bob Terry told board members it was surprising the history of the ministry had never been written. Numerous articles capsulize the history, Terry said, and academic papers have been written about chapters in the paper’s history and about some of the colorful personalities who served as editor. But the upcoming book will be the first to tell the captivating story of the publication and its impact on Baptists for 175 years, he said.

Judson College and Siloam Baptist Church, both in Marion, will host the birthday party for The Alabama Baptist on Feb. 6, 2018. Milo Jewett, the first president of Judson, was a co-founder of the state Baptist paper. Judson also houses the building in which The Alabama Baptist was first published.

Siloam Baptist will host a community-wide event that day featuring Elizabeth Wells, veteran historian and author of the upcoming history of The Alabama Baptist, who will talk about the role of the Marion community in the founding of The Alabama Baptist.

Samford will be the site of the March 2 symposium. Four papers are scheduled for presentation. “The Journalism of The Alabama Baptist” will be the topic of Steve Stewart who teaches journalism at Troy University. Stewart formerly owned and published the Monroe Journal in Monroeville and served on the board of directors of The Alabama Baptist.

Timothy George, founding dean of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, will consider “The Alabama Baptist and Controversy,” highlighting ways the paper reported and contributed to various controversies across the years.

Considering “The Impact of The Alabama Baptist on Alabama and Beyond” will be Mark Baggett, professor of law and professor of English at Samford. Baggett is the son of former editor Hudson Baggett and served as managing editor of the paper for a number of years.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland will discuss “The Need for The Alabama Baptist” as Baptist life continues to evolve in the future.

The monthly articles highlighting various chapters of the ministry’s life will begin in February 2017 and will be written by Wells, retired archivist for Samford who managed the Special Collection department.

Terry said, “Being associated with such a historical and valuable ministry as The Alabama Baptist is a privilege. Hopefully Baptists across the state will be a part of this anniversary celebration.”

More details on the anniversary celebration will be shared in future issues. (TAB)