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Texas associate leads editors group; meeting date/place dispute erupts

WASHINGTON (BP)–Marv Knox, associate editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, was affirmed as new president of the Association of State Baptist Papers and Mark Wyatt, editor of The California Southern Baptist, was named president-elect at the group’s annual meeting Feb. 10-13 in Washington.
The election of Wyatt, editor of the twice-monthly newspaper of the California Southern Baptist Convention, was unanimous upon the recommendation of the group’s nominating committee. Knox has been president-elect during the past year and was affirmed in leading the group for 1998. He succeeds Mike McCullough, editor of the Nevada Baptist, as president.
Although the annual meeting of the 40-member editors’ group is always characterized by a variety of differing viewpoints, this year’s meeting in the nation’s capital was marked by clashes regarding future meeting dates and places. In fact, the group first approved several recommendations from its time and place committee, then voted not to approve the committee’s report and finally decided to poll the editors at a later time to resolve the issue.
The issue, often debated and discussed by the association for more than two decades, is whether the editors should continue to meet concurrently with the state convention executive directors’ association. Holding annual meetings around the country, the two groups have shared the same hotel for years and at least a common banquet and sometimes speakers during weeklong meetings. The two groups have been meeting on a regular basis the week prior to the February meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
The issue of common meetings with the state convention executives surfaced this year when the editor’s time and place committee complained the executives group changed the meeting date and place for next year without consulting the editors.
Mark Wingfield, time and place committee chairman and editor of the Kentucky Western Recorder, told the editors the state executives group “unilaterally changed its meeting dates effective in 1999.”
“There was no effort to seek consultation with leadership of our association on this matter,” Wingfield said in his report. The report quoted the editor’s executive secretary, Bob Terry, as sensing “no concern on the part of the executives group as to whether the editors and executives continue to meet concurrently or not.”
The state convention executives decided to hold their meeting in 1999 two weeks before the SBC Executive Committee meeting and in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wingfield’s committee proposed four major changes regarding times and places for the future which were all approved, although the recommendation to change the 1999 date and place from the state executives choice was passed in a close vote, 10-8.
The next day, McCullough told the editors he remembered talking to a travel agent about arrangements next year which representatives of the state executives group said was tantamount to a verbal contract to go to Colorado Springs. That set the stage for further conferences with the state executives and a report back to the editors in their last session Feb. 13.
When Wingfield reported on the consultation with state executives, Trennis Henderson, editor of the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, made a motion to affirm the report by the time and place committee. The prior action of the editors regarding the time and place report would give the group a two-year “cooling off” period, editors were told, separate from the executives but allowing discussions with them for future times and places.
However, his motion failed on about a 2-1 basis.
Ferrell Foster, editor of the Illinois Baptist, then made a motion to rescind the time and place committee’s recommendations and to have the editors group meet concurrently with the state executives in 1999 and continue a dialogue with them.
Finally, a motion was ruled approved by McCullough, in a close vote by a show of hands, to have new president Knox poll the membership by e-mail on Foster’s motion. The motion to table and poll the members was made by Henderson, who said a number of editors had left the meeting and it would be better to poll the whole group.
Knox said he would e-mail the ballot as soon as possible and release the vote, including how each member voted on the matter.
In other matters, the editors agreed to no longer allow members of the board of directors of Associated Baptist Press to be on the group’s press services liaison committee. The press services liaison committee evaluates two news services, ABP and Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. BP had criticized the committee evaluating the news services because ABP directors, as a conflict of interest, had been members of the committee. Also, the editors agreed their president would appoint a committee to develop a “code of ethics” for the group’s members, to be recommended at a later date.
The 103-year-old association’s only staff member, Bob Terry, editor of The Alabama Baptist, was also reaffirmed for the part-time position of executive secretary.
Editors approved resolutions for retiring Tennessee Baptist & Reflector editor Fletcher Allen and the host District of Columbia Baptist Convention.
The editors also were briefed by state department officials, by a representative of the department of education and by White House aides.

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  • Herb Hollinger