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Kelly Boggs tapped as editor of Louisiana Baptist paper

PINEVILLE, La. (BP)–Kelly Boggs, an Oregon pastor and spokesman for evangelical causes in the state as well as a Baptist Press columnist, has been selected as editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

Boggs, 45, elected by a unanimous vote by the paper’s trustees, succeeds Lynn Clayton, who will retire at the end of the year after more than 27 years as editor.

Boggs has been a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention since 2001, and served as chairman of the Northwest Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee from 2001 until earlier this year. He was a member of the steering committee of the Defense of Marriage Coalition of Oregon in 2004 and media relations director for a 2000 initiative to curtail the promotion of homosexuality in Oregon public schools, handling numerous media interviews and radio-TV debates.

He has led the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville since 1999. His earlier pastorates, all in his home state of Texas, were in Leander in the Austin area and in Copperas Cove, Burnet and Lexington. Earlier, he did fulltime evangelistic work for two years and was minister of youth in churches in Killeen, Rogers and Belton, Texas. He was ordained to the ministry in 1985 at First Baptist Church in Rogers.

Boggs served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee in 2004 and Committee on Nominations in 2003.

“I am humbled and honored by my election to the position of editor of the Baptist Message,” Boggs told Baptist Press. “It is an incredible stewardship that I have been granted.

“The messengers to the most recent Louisiana Baptist Convention’s annual meeting made it clear that they desire the Baptist Message to be independent when reporting the news of the convention. It will be my responsibility to ensure that desire is carried out,” Boggs said. “At the same time, however, I also want to do everything possible to support all the entities of the convention. I want to help the leaders of the LBC, beginning with [Executive Director] Dr. [David] Hankins, communicate their vision. We are, after all, members of the same team.

“I believe the Message has a good team in place,” Boggs said. “I am excited about taking my place on it and doing my part to convey what the Lord is doing in and through Louisiana Southern Baptists.

“Everyone is aware that the recent hurricanes visited a tremendous amount of devastation on Louisiana,” Boggs noted. “As a result, many challenges lie ahead for the convention. It is my prayer that the Message can help Louisiana Baptists come together to meet the challenges of the future in the power of God’s grace.”

He said he intends to be at the newspaper by mid-January and is looking forward to working with the convention’s new communications director, John Yeats, former editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Boggs earned a master of divinity degree in 1994 from Southwestern Baptist Theological and is a 1985 graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.

He and his wife, Mindy, have four children, Torrey, 15; Karis, 13; Hannah, 11; and Parker, 9.

After the unanimous vote by the paper’s trustees Dec. 6, Boggs said, “God is doing exciting things here. That’s a story that needs to be told not only in Louisiana, but outside, of the efforts of Southern Baptists. That excites me.” He acknowledged, “You folks have been through a lot in this state.”

The election comes almost a year and a half after Clayton announced his plans to retire.

During that time, Hankins proposed moving the Baptist Message within the convention as part of a newly formed communications team. The paper’s trustees initially turned down the idea but then revisited it a few months later and approved it. At the Louisiana convention’s annual meeting, however, the move required a two-thirds vote but drew only about half that number in a show-of-ballots vote. That prompted the editor search committee to reconsider Boggs, a previous candidate for Clayton’s successor.

“When we began our deliberations looking for a new editor last year, we searched from the East Coast to the West Coast and places in between,” said Nathan Luce, pastor at Broussard Grove Baptist Church in Prairieville who chaired the newspaper’s search committee. “Kelly Boggs is the … person we feel will do an outstanding job.”

In presenting Boggs to fellow members of the paper’s board, chair Larry Thompson noted Boggs’ experience in presenting a Christian worldview through newspaper columns.

“Kelly comes to us as one of the denomination’s voices in a very strategic region of our nation,” said Thompson, pastor at First Baptist Church in Westlake. “If you know Oregon, you know it is a very secular area. And Kelly’s writings have been well-known, especially for their Christian worldview.”

Before his election, Boggs was asked for his vision as editor by trustee Wayne Bono, a layman at Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

Boggs said he believes the newspaper can unite Louisiana Baptists as they strive to accomplish the Great Commission. “I want the newspaper to be one of the finest in the [Southern Baptist] Convention,” he said. “We’re in changing times right now, not just for the Louisiana Baptist Message, but in publications, period.

“There will be a lot of trying new things and listening to people to encourage believers in this state that we’re in this together,” Boggs said. “We’re on the same team accomplishing the same goal.”

Trustee Bill Dye, pastor of North Monroe Baptist Church, asked Boggs several questions, including how he would handle the learning curve the editor’s position would require.

Boggs responded that he would meet with other current and former Baptist state editors, including Yeats, to learn how their newspapers operate.

“The thing that makes me qualified is the people [that] God has brought in my life, so the learning curve won’t be too severe,” Boggs said.

Later in the meeting, Hankins offered the full support of the convention’s staff.

“I and my staff at the executive board are at [Boggs’] disposal,” Hankins said. “We’re on his team for what God’s doing in the future.”

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