News Articles

What’s the word? Website puts Baptist spin on popular Wordle game

NASHVILLE (BP) – After their daily time in the Word, Southern Baptists can now spend a little time figuring out the daily word.

The SBC Executive Committee has unveiled a website patterned after Wordle, the hugely popular word game purchased late last month by the New York Times for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

Both the original and the Southern Baptist version allow the player to figure out that day’s five-letter word by entering up to six guesses. Players know how close each guess is by the color of each letter – a gray letter is not in the word at all; a green letter means that’s the right letter in the right place; a yellow letter means the letter is right, but it’s in the wrong place. (In the Baptist version, the colors are gray, blue and yellow, respectively.)

“We’re always looking for unique ways to promote engagement around the annual meeting,” said Jonathan Howe, vice president of communications for the SBC Executive Committee. “The Wordle craze is a perfect avenue for us to engage with Southern Baptists on a daily basis while having some fun in the process.”

Howe had the idea after jokingly discussing it on “SBC This Week,” the podcast he cohosts with Amy Whitfield. The next day, he reached out to his friend, Patrick Watts, a business information analyst at Lifeway Christian Resources, to see if it was even feasible.

Watts is not in IT at Lifeway, but he works closely with the IT department. He thought the project seemed like a good way for him to learn.

“I work with a bunch of coders,” he said. “… This was a good way to get my brain around the processes that the guys I work with use.”

Watts found an open-source clone of the original Wordle game that uses React, a programming language he was already somewhat familiar with. That made the whole thing pretty easy, he said.

“The hardest part was coming up with the word list,” Watts said. “You try to find words that are relevant that are also five letters.”

Howe, Watts and Whitfield collaborated on the list, even soliciting suggestions in a Baptist Facebook group. (Spoiler alert: if you see that post, don’t read the comments; they used many of the suggestions.)

Watts said he has already forgotten many of the words, so he looks forward to playing each day up until the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim in June.

And while it is just a game, Watts sees the project as worthwhile.

“It’s not important,” he said. “But it gets your mind focused on what we have to do (at the meeting).

“There will be words in here that will connect to things that will be happening at the annual meeting or people that will be at the annual meeting or things that we want to happen at the annual meeting.

“If everyone’s playing [Wordle] without a purpose, it’s good to have people playing with a purpose.”