University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and First Baptist Church, Huntsville, members’ outreach to furloughed government workers were among The Alabama Baptist’s (TAB) top newsmakers in 2019.
The most popular story of 2019 on TAB’s social media channels — “Alabama quarterback uses football as platform to share his faith” — focuses on Tagovailoa’s commitment to Christ, even as a hip injury during the Crimson Tide’s Nov. 16 game against Mississippi State ended his season. On Dec. 30 the junior quarterback was named the winner of the 2019 Bobby Bowden Award, which recognizes the Division 1 player who epitomizes a student-athlete from a faith perspective.
“As much as fans want to praise him and slap him on the back, it really isn’t about football or the acclaim that comes with it for Tua,” writes TAB correspondent Al Blanton. “Sure, football is the medium by which Tua delivers his message, but it’s about sharing the gospel with the world. And it’s about having the biggest platform to be able to do that. Alabama football has provided him such a podium.”
The article “Shoebox receipient from 1999 shares how the ‘bright red paper’ box changed her life” was the second most popular story of 2019 at TAB Media.
In the story, TAB’s Grace Thornton shared how the Henson family of Alabama connected with Gresa Sahatciu, a young woman from Kosovo who as a child received a Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoebox from the Hensons. Sahatciu treasured a pair of white socks with lace included in the box and promised herself when she came to the United States she would find the family who sent them to her.
The top viewed story at www.thealabamabaptist.org this year was “FBC Huntsville gives out $16,500 in grocery cards to furloughed government workers.” The outreach event was held Jan. 17 in the midst of a partial government shutdown that hit Huntsville, home to Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal, hard.
FBC Huntsville pastor Travis Collins said the opportunity to host the event was “a lot of good neighbors being neighbors.”
Kim Spencer, who works at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said in a Facebook message that “FBC’s generosity … is a living, breathing example of Christ’s love.”
Other stories that were popular on TAB’s online channels in 2019 include:
“Birmingham meteorologist and children’s volunteer [James Spann] receives award” — In February Birmingham meteorologist James Spann was named the 2019 National Weatherperson of the Year by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). Spann is chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 and a well-known personality throughout the state. He also leads children’s worship every Sunday at Double Oak Community Church, Mount Laurel, in Shelby Baptist Association, and is a big part of the church’s annual Vacation Bible School.
“Church at Southside gathers homeless together as its congregation in Birmingham parking lot” — Every Sunday since 2016, this church plant in a parking lot has met for breakfast and worship. More than 100 people now gather each Sunday, many of whom are homeless.
“Worship leader shares experience of singing hymns with his grandmother” — In this personal essay, worship leader and songwriter Jeremy Moore shares how despite her progressive dementia, his grandmother Ella would sing hymns with him during visits.
“University of Alabama pitcher uses baseball as platform for faith” — Connor Shamblin, a pitcher for the University of Alabama baseball team, shares his top priority — leading people to Christ.
“[Henry] Cox celebrates 60 years of pastoral ministry, looks ahead to retirement” — Longtime pastor and two-term past president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention Henry Cox is retiring after reaching milestone anniversary.