News Articles

Smith named executive editor of Florida Baptist Witness

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–James A. Smith Sr., who has served as an administrator at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1997, has been named executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, the official newsmagazine of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Smith, 36, succeeds Michael Chute, who will join the faculty of William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss., in early February. Chute, who announced his resignation last November effective Feb. 5, will chair the college’s department of communications.

The Florida Baptist Witness’ board of commissioners unanimously elected Smith on Jan. 23, said Vernon Harkey, commission chairman. The nine-member commission is the governing board of the paper, which is an agency of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Smith will begin his duties with the Witness on Feb. 5, Harkey said.

“Jim Smith is a gifted writer with a vision and calling to see the Florida Baptist Witness into the 21st century,” Harkey said. “Please pray for Jim and his family as they make their move to Florida.”

Smith has served as director of public relations at the Louisville, Ky., school since 1998 and previously was director of news and information. Before joining the Southern Seminary public relations staff he served as director of news and information at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., from 1995-97.

“Jim Smith is a superbly talented journalist, a man of deep convictions and a devoted Southern Baptist,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “He will bring outstanding leadership as editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. Jim is a consummate Christian communicator with deep convictions and a wonderful ability to communicate with all persons.

“I commend the leadership of the Florida Baptist Witness upon their selection and I am certain that Florida Baptists and Southern Baptists beyond will appreciate Jim Smith the way we have appreciated him at Southern Seminary,” Mohler said.

A native of Norfolk, Va., Smith has wide experience in Southern Baptist denominational life. In addition to his work at Southern and Midwestern, he was the first Washington, D.C., staff member of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, serving as director of government relations from 1989-95. He served also as a member of the Resolutions Committee at the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention in Salt Lake City.

Before joining the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (the Christian Life Commission at the time), Smith worked two years as director of communications at the Republican Study Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Smith earned the master of divinity degree from Southern Seminary in 1999 and the bachelor of science degree from Dallas Baptist University in 1987.

Smith and his wife, Linda, were married in 1987. They are parents to a 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, and a 9-year-old son, James Andrew Jr. The Smiths are members of North Oldham Baptist Church in Goshen, Ky.

“I am gratified by the confidence of the Florida Baptist Witness Commission and honored by this opportunity to serve Florida Baptists,” Smith said. “I look forward to getting to know and serve alongside Florida Baptists.

“I leave Southern Seminary with mixed emotions. I love this seminary. It is a great honor to be counted among the 20,000 alumni of this storied institution. It was a unique privilege and awesome responsibility to serve with Dr. Mohler and this world-class faculty. Our time in Louisville has been wonderful.

“Nevertheless, a new challenge has been set before me that I believe is ordained by God,” Smith continued. “Under my leadership, the Witness will endeavor to defend the faith, report faithfully news about the Florida Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention, publish feature articles of high quality and stimulate reflection and cooperative action among Florida Baptists.

“I’m grateful for the fine leadership of Michael Chute. He deserves much credit for his labor on behalf of the Witness. He has set a standard of work which will be difficult to equal.”

Under Smith’s leadership at Southern Seminary, the office of public relations has been recognized several times with awards from the Public Relations Society of America’s Bluegrass Chapter and the International Association of Business Communicators of Kentucky. Smith received an award for news story writing in 1997.

Advancements at Southern under his leadership include an expanded and redesigned Internet website, establishment of Southern Seminary News Service, a redesigned and expanded weekly campus newsletter and significant expansion of the seminary’s advertising and news programs.

Smith’s parents live in Hedgesville, W.Va., where his father, Floyd E. Smith, is a Southern Baptist pastor. His wife’s parents are residents of Leesburg, Fla., and Bradenton, Fla.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JIM SMITH.

    About the Author

  • Staff