TOPEKA, Kan. (BP)–It’s back to the future for Southern Baptists in Kansas and Nebraska, as a familiar piece will again frequent their homes come the first of next year. The Baptist Digest will reappear as the official publication of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists following executive board approval of a study committee recommendation Sept. 7.
Almost two years ago the board voted to shift from its longtime newspaper, The Baptist Digest, to two publications, The Heartland Leadership Journal and Images of the Heartland. That decision, also prompted by an extensive communications audit, provided that an evaluation would be done after the first year.
A publications study committee, chaired by Ray Kempel, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Hutchison, Kan., made the evaluation. The committee based its recommendation on input from church members, pastors, convention staff and the current publications team. Other members of the study committee were Melanie Summey, Neal Alford, Mary Bess Burns, Debbie Criser and Merle Mees.
Kempel said the move will provide Southern Baptists in Kansas and Nebraska with a monthly publication incorporating the best of the current publications, features and leadership helps. The new Baptist Digest also will include news about events, training and how God is working through individuals and congregation across Kansas and Nebraska.
The executive board also approved the study committee becoming an editorial advisory board. The board and the new publication will be in place for three years. Congregations need to know that there will be constancy in the publication, Kempel said, and the three-year period will provide time for the publication to develop.
Seven guiding principles were adopted as part of new publication’s resumption and will be published regularly:
— Regularly share information about ongoing training, curriculum, events, support and personnel.
— Serve as a resource pool for practical ideas about what is working in Kansas-Nebraska congregations. These would be segmented into what works with small, medium and large congregations.
— Cast the widest net, providing stories and information that will appeal to all generations of Southern Baptists in the two states.
— Be family friendly with stories, regular columns and helps for families and leaders who work with families.
— Provide information that addresses the diversity of age, ethnicity and geographic regions of Southern Baptists in Kansas and Nebraska.
— Publish stories about people and congregations involved in missions, and regularly publicize opportunities for ministry and missions in the two states.
— Help congregations discover that they are part of the larger work of the kingdom of God through their ministries in Kansas and Nebraska.
Peck Lindsay, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska convention, said, “Our two publications have provided a unique niche to segments of Southern Baptists in Nebraska and Kansas. With the change to one publication, we will continue to provide information and news to those two groups, while broadening the scope of informing individuals about how God is working across the two states.”
A five-member team produces the current publications. No personnel changes are anticipated in light of the board’s decision, only shifts in roles and responsibilities related to the monthly schedule.
It was also recommended that the publications team continue to publish its electronic e-newsletter, Echoes, now being sent weekly to more than 500 recipients across Kansas and Nebraska. It contains news about churches and programs, as well as links to the convention’s website and SBC news. The current publications and the new Baptist Digest have 5,500 subscribers.
Three more issues of The Leadership Journal will be published. The final issue of Images of the Heartland, featuring the annual Viola Webb Missions emphasis, has been published.