DULUTH, Ga. (BP) – As the nation’s oldest continuously publishing religious newspaper, The Christian Index has provided news for and about Georgia Baptists since 1822. But it’s always been exclusively in English until now.
The Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, now offers news translated into 10 languages besides English, through a Google plug-in on its website.
Index Editor Roger Alford, who took the role earlier this year, said it was his desire to reach the growing number of Georgians who come from somewhere else. Of the 23 new churches welcomed in to the Georgia Baptist Convention at its meeting earlier this month, nearly a third of them are made up of non-Anglo groups.
“English isn’t a first language for all Georgia Baptists,” Alford said. “We’re a state with about 1 million immigrants. The language translator on our website allows brothers and sisters new to our country to read the Index in their own heart language. I’m reminded of the day of Pentecost, when all those people heard the Gospel in their own language. People here and now in Georgia can read the Index in their own language. Simply by clicking a box.”
Languages offered include Arabic, Filipino, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese. Alford said he chose the languages most commonly spoken among immigrants in Georgia.
“I would often hear from people who wanted a particular article on the site translated into another language and reposted on the Index website, because they knew their non-English friends could benefit from reading it,” he said. “We understand that for every single person who makes such a request there are likely many others who are thinking the same thing.”
Another change Alford has made at the Index is the website’s inclusion of Associated Press wire stories in its content – a move that also was in response the readership’s ethnic diversity.
“While newspaper readership surveys show multi-generational Americans may not have great interest in world news, our international readers certainly do have,” Alford said. “They have a hunger for news from their homelands and elsewhere because they very likely have family members and friends being impacted by happenings around the globe.”
The Index became an online-only publication in 2015. Alford said the benefits of a digital publication (timely coverage, no space limitations, no delivery mishaps) are even more pronounced for a statewide journal like the Index.
“Unlike the communities covered by the 200 or so secular newspapers across Georgia, our community isn’t a geographical one,” he said. “It’s a faith community. We’re bound together not by topography but by our theology. That’s why we place such a premium on our coverage of Georgia Baptists. It’s what we do.”
Brandon Porter, associate vice president of convention news for the SBC Executive Committee, contributed to this report.