By Jeff Herring, Executive Editor
Executive Editor’s Note: The “Moving the Conversation Forward” article by Associate Editor Allan Eakin in the Dec. 20 issue introduced a series of articles — How Do We Associate? Series — we would be featuring at the beginning of the new year. The first of these articles appeared in the Jan. 10 issue — “How Do We Associate?” In this issue, we will begin to share the stories of the ministries that are made possible because of the churches of the Baptist Missionary Association, starting with the departments of the state of Arkansas. In this issue, we will share from the two oldest departments of the BMA of Arkansas — State Missions and the Baptist Trumpet.
The Baptist Trumpet (newspaper), one of the departments of the BMA of Arkansas, is designed to inspire and inform our readers. Each issue includes up-to-date news articles about matters that pertain to the religious community as a whole and inspirational articles and stories related to our churches. We include regular reports about the activities of the other three departments of the BMA of Arkansas (Central Baptist College, State Missions and the Youth Department) and the various departments of the BMA of America.
The beginning of the Baptist Trumpet actually predates the formation of the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA). In 1939, W.J. Burgess, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Little Rock, began publishing a paper called the Temple Trumpet to keep his people connected and informed about each other and the work of the association. It grew, and the reach expanded beyond just the local church membership. W.J. Burgess continued as editor until 1951, when he was elected secretary of missions for the national association. E.T. Burgess, who had served as assistant editor for many years, continued the work of producing the weekly paper along with W.L. Burgess. Beginning with the Feb. 13, 1952 issue, the name was changed to the Baptist Trumpet to better reflect the expansion of the paper’s reach beyond just the local church. In November 1954, the Arkansas State Association formed the Publications Committee and adopted the Baptist Trumpet as an official department of the association.
Other editors after W.J. (1939-1951) and E.T. (1951-1953; 1955-1958) were Wassell Burgess (1953-1954), A.R. Reddin (1954), J.E. Cobb (1954), Gordon Reddin (1958-1961), C.C. Bishop (1961-1969), David Tidwell (1969-2002), Bobby Bowman (2002-2005) and Editor Emeritus Diane Spriggs (2005-2020).
Under the leadership of the longest-serving editor, the late David Tidwell, the circulation (subscribers) of the paper grew to over 14,000. Editor Emeritus Diane Spriggs (the second longest serving editor) ensured the history found in the pages of the Baptist Trumpet would be available for future generations with the development of the digital Trumpet Archives that can be accessed at BaptistTrumpet.com. There are currently over 3,700 issues dating back to 1939 that are available to search and read (the last 90 days of issues are restricted to current subscribers). I encourage you to check them out. If you want to know more about what was going on with the association at a particular time, find the issues around that time and see what the leaders of the association had to share.
I have been with the Baptist Trumpet since joining the team as assistant editor on May 20, 2019. When Editor Diane Spriggs retired, the BMA of Arkansas elected me to serve as executive editor on Nov. 5, 2020. Allan Eakin, pastor of Celebration Baptist Church in Haskell, has been associate editor since Oct. 1, 2019. Our offices are located at 10712 I-30 in Little Rock.
Allan and I are doing our best to prepare not only for the current ministry of the Baptist Trumpet but also for the future ministry. We have no plans to stop producing a printed paper to be mailed to our subscribers’ homes, but we realize we must also plan for the future of this ministry. We continue to develop the digital side of the ministry of the Baptist Trumpet. Besides the E-Trumpet available via email, you can find all the information included in the print and digital versions of the paper at BaptistTrumpet.com since March 2022. Our goal is for our website to be the “go-to” place for all information important to BMA Baptists!
We are the only weekly paper in the BMA, and this is one of the great strengths of the Trumpet. I strongly believe a weekly paper is needed to connect our readers with all that is happening in the BMA on the local, state, national and international levels. I rarely have trouble finding enough important information to fill the Trumpet each week, and most of the time, it is just the opposite! This ministry of our association exists to help connect the people in our churches to the work of the BMA, and it is vitally important. I believe more churches would be involved in our associational work if their people stayed connected to the different ministries by receiving the Trumpet weekly.
We are always looking for those who would be interested in submitting articles to publish in the paper. We have many that contribute regularly and some that do so every now and then. We never guarantee something submitted will be published, but we welcome any submission that would benefit our readers. You can send them to me at email@example.com.
We could not continue this ministry without the faithful support of many churches and individuals who give regular offerings to help offset the cost of producing and sending out the paper each week. Our goal is to keep our subscription rates as low as possible and ensure they are adequate to offset all costs so that we do not operate in the red. The funds brought in with our subscription fees, plus the regular offerings, help keep things going every week.
Our Total Access Subscription is $39 per year (about 87¢ per issue) and includes print, digital and access to all the premium content on our website. For churches, we offer a “church plan” that provides the same benefits for each family they enroll at a reduced rate of 80¢ per issue ($36 per year) billed to the church monthly.
The best way you can help this ministry is by being a subscriber and an ambassador for the Trumpet by encouraging others to subscribe. I mentioned earlier that during Bro. Tidwell’s time, the circulation grew to around 14,000, but that is not the case now. We currently have about 7,000 subscribers. As our subscriber base goes down, the cost per subscriber to produce and send out the Trumpet increases. The easiest way to make this ministry sustainable for the foreseeable future is to add more subscribers so the cost is spread out and the cost per subscriber stays as low as possible. This also means more people would stay informed about everything happening with the BMA.
As mentioned, we depend on regular support from churches and individuals who send regular offerings to keep the subscription costs as low as possible. Will you encourage your church to add the Trumpet to the ministries they support with regular offerings, or can you support us financially?
Each year, we also have a time of Special Emphasis. The state association has designated March and April as the months that we can actively seek donations to meet the needs of this ministry. Our goal is for our subscription rates and regular offerings to cover the production and post-production costs so that this time is used for special projects and needs that help further the ministry.
In the following year, we are discussing a few new projects to help further the reach of the Trumpet. We have discussed sponsoring a podcast to expand on some of the information we share in the Trumpet, especially the associational involvement. We want to continue to encourage more conversation about how to make the most of being a part of an association of churches so we can do more together than we could ever do alone. We have also discussed the possibility of going to a 12-page weekly paper because there always seems to be more we could include each week, but we simply don’t have room.
If we can help you or your church in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know. We will also be glad to set you up with a free two-month trial for your church members so everyone can see what we have to offer. Just reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Allan (email@example.com) and we will get you started.
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