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Jim Newton, Baptist journalist, dies at 75

JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Jim Newton, 75, longtime Southern Baptist journalist and former assistant director of Baptist Press, died Jan. 16 at Baptist Hospital Hospice Care in Jackson, Miss., following an unexpected late-fall flare-up of his leukemia.

Newton held numerous positions in Baptist journalism, beginning as press representative for the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1959-65; Baptist Press assistant director, 1965-73; editor of World Mission Journal of the former SBC Brotherhood Commission, 1973-80; editor and later director of news and information for the former Southern Baptist Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), 1980-90; and HMB director of public relations, 1990 until his retirement in 1992.

Newton left the HMB in 1987 for a brief stint with Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, an assignment which was to have taken him and his wife Pat to Singapore. But an economic slump prevented the move and Newton returned to lead the news department for a second time before it was combined with the public relations office.

After his 1992 retirement from the mission board, Newton accepted a communications position with the U.S. based-office of World Vision International in California. After retiring from World Vision, he and Pat to Clinton, Miss., to be near their two daughters, Jana and Kayla, and five grandchildren.

As a journalist, Newton traveled to all 50 states and more than 70 countries.

He was born into a Kingsville, Texas, family who were editors of weekly newspapers in south Texas. After graduating from Baylor University in 1958, he began his career as associate editor of The Bishop News in Bishop, Texas, before moving on to the BGCT in Dallas. While working at the Texas convention, he began a courtship via the office teletype machine with the former Patricia Tullos, who was employed at the (Mississippi) Baptist Record. They were married 50 years.

Newton worked extensively as a communications consultant with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, a ministry of the BGEA; and World Vision. He authored “The Way to Timbuktu,” a novel based on missionary experiences in Africa for the SBC’s 1981 Foreign Mission Study. The book was published by Convention Press for the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board).

Newton won more than 30 awards from the Baptist Public Relations Association (now Baptist Communicators Association) and the Religious Public Relations Council. He was a three-time recipient of BPRA’s top journalism honor, the Frank M. Burkhalter Award.

He was a member of Trace Ridge Baptist Church in Ridgeland, Miss., a suburb of Jackson.

Visitation will be Jan. 18 from 5-7 p.m. at Lakewood Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Jackson. Services will be at 1 p.m. Jan. 19 at Trace Ridge Baptist Church following a noon visitation.

Cards and notes may be sent to Pat Newton at 719 Winding Hills, Clinton, Miss. 39056.
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index (www.christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.

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