The Baptist Trumpet

     I was just thinking about how sad it is that around the world the printed page is disappearing as long-established newspapers have folded. That caused me to think how blessed we are that the Baptist Trumpet remains a viable source of information to the churches of the BMA of Arkansas.

     This is the fourth article focusing on the entities that are supported by our state association. This fourth ministry is actually referred to as the Publications Committee. And while those who serve on the committee are essential to the success of the paper, as with the previous articles, I will focus on those who have served as business manager/editor of the Baptist Trumpet.

     We have been blessed through the years to have people who loved the churches of the association, cared about keeping them informed and diligently, and sometimes sacrificially, worked to print a quality paper.

     I briefly mentioned previously that this paper began in Temple Baptist Church of Little Rock as the Temple Trumpet, the church’s weekly bulletin. Pastor W.J. Burgess served as the editor. Upon being elected as secretary-treasurer of the North American Baptist Association (as our national work was then known), Bro. Burgess resigned as Temple’s pastor and, subsequently, as editor of the bulletin.

     Because the Temple Trumpet had a substantial number of subscribers (the paper was free then), a group of pastors felt the need to keep the publication before the people. Combining their own resources, they kept the paper viable. These were individuals who recognized the worth of a newspaper that would keep the people in the pews informed about our associated work. I may leave someone out, and if I do, it is unintentional. Those men were A.R. Reddin, T.O. Tollett (a layman), Z.W. Swafford, Richard Walters, C.O. Strong and Dr. J.E. Cobb. It was during that time the paper received a new name — the Baptist Trumpet.

     The state association saw the worth of having a state newspaper and, in an annual meeting in in Conway, voted to take over support of the paper and to reimburse these men for their expenses. In 1954, the circulation of the paper was 3,200.

     For a brief time, Dr. Cobb served as editor, and he was followed by E.T. Burgess. Bro. Burgess loved the ministry of the paper, but he was a full-time pastor who was dealing with some health issues. Added to that was the fact that the financial situation of the paper was not good at all (even though he first offered to continue as editor pro-bono), so Bro. Burgess saw the need to resign.

     In a called meeting of the Publications Committee, Gordon Reddin was elected to serve as editor in a full-time capacity. In a short time, he realized the financial situation of the paper and reported it to the churches. They responded in an amazing way and, in a few months, all indebtedness had been erased and the subscriptions to the Baptist Trumpet grew to over 5,000.

     In the early sixties, C.C. Bishop succeeded Bro. Reddin as editor. I mentioned Bro. Bishop in a previous article, noting that his office was in Old Main on the Central Baptist College campus. His love for the paper and his affinity with the churches enabled him to tap more resources and the viability of the newspaper continued to be strong.

     After Bro. Bishop, David Tidwell was elected business manager and editor of the Baptist Trumpet. He was a person I described years ago as being “a man born with ink in his veins.” Bro. Tidwell loved being editor of the paper. He was a prolific writer, as well as an excellent editor. I was privileged to serve a couple terms on the Publications Committee during his tenure, and it was always a delight.

     Despite battling poor health, Bro. Tidwell continued to travel the state promoting the work of the Baptist Trumpet  because he was so devoted to the purpose of keeping the churches informed. He faithfully served the churches from 1969 to 2002 — a tenure of 33 years. He received his heavenly promotion on Feb. 12, 2002, while still serving the churches as editor.

     Following Bro. Tidwell, former BMAA missionary to Honduras Bobby Bowman was elected to the office. Bro. Bowman has always been known for his great smile and wonderful, easy-going disposition. He took to the work of the paper with zeal and, like his predecessors, traveled extensively across the state garnering support for the Baptist Trumpet, and efficiently managing the work of the paper and the print shop.

     Diane Spriggs, who has given the major part of her life to working at the Baptist Trumpet offices, was elected to follow Bro. Bowman as editor in November 2005. Prior to her election, she served as Bro. Tidwell’s “right hand” for 22 years and was named assistant editor shortly before his death. For over 14 years, she has been the editor — the first female to serve the BMA of Arkansas in such a position of responsibility. She always attributed her knowledge to the teachings of Bro. Tidwell. “He taught me everything I know about being an editor,” she said, “And his most valuable lesson was to love this ministry with all my heart.”

     Diane (as she prefers to be called) will conclude her tenure with the Baptist Trumpet at the annual session of the BMA of Arkansas this November, when she will retire, concluding almost 41 years of dedicated service to the Lord and to the churches of the BMA of Arkansas. Thank you, Diane, for being a devoted servant!

     As I bring this mini-series of articles about the four entities of our association to conclusion, I want to emphasize that they complement each other as ministries in the cause of Christ. The directors, editor and college president have worked in harmony — a tremendous blessing to the churches that render support.

     Yet a common denominator to this concerted effort is the Baptist Trumpet. CBC President Terry Kimbrow writes an article each week, informing the churches about the multi-faceted ministry of our college. State Missions Director Paul White shares information about the ministry of church planting across the state and includes reports from the missionaries who have been elected by the association to minister to English and Hispanic-speaking missions. Youth Department Director Dan Carson writes a weekly column, “Student Ministry Matters”in which he reaches out to young people, as well as adults, regarding all aspects of our state associational work. And Editor Spriggs’ “Editor’s Notebook”yields regular reports regarding the ministry of the Baptist Trumpet.

     Additionally, front page articles provide information focusing on news of importance from not only our state work, but the ministries of the BMA of America. Once a month, readers can learn about the happenings in BMA churches in Mississippi, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas via a four-page insert that contains articles from the BMA state papers. Reports from the churches and “Moving with Ministers and Staff” keep readers aware of items of interest across the state. The Baptist Trumpet is a literary corridor to information that is relative to the work of the ministry in BMA churches!

     Allow me to encourage support for this excellent publication through subscriptions to the weekly paper. Pastors, if your church isn’t already participating, please urge your congregation to subscribe by way of the Church Plan. You can even have it mailed to prospective members. Individual subscriptions are always welcome, and a great gift for friends, family and maybe some who could not afford the paper is a subscription to the Baptist Trumpet.

     The cost of printing, mailing and office salaries is substantial and subscription income only covers a portion of the cost of producing the paper. So please put the paper in your church’s giving budget. It’s worth it!

     And don’t forget that the Trumpet’s Special Emphasis period (as designated by the state association) is March and April. This year’s donations will go toward paying off a much-needed vehicle and providing a small “cushion” for the new editor.

     “Any offering, big or small, will be greatly appreciated,” said Diane. Let’s show her, Assistant Editor Jeff Herring and Administrative Assistant Jen Marvel how much we appreciate their dedicated service in keeping us informed through the Baptist Trumpet.

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