Robert Dilday, editor-in-chief for Baptist News Global and a Baptist journalist for 35 years, is stepping down to become an Episcopal priest. His last official day on the job will be June 5.
Dilday, 62, was managing editor at the Religious Herald in Richmond, Va., 27 years before a 2014 merger with the news service Associated Baptist Press that formed BNG, an independent, faith-based news organization providing original and curated news, opinion and analysis about matters of faith.
Son of one-time Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Russell Dilday, he was confirmed as an Episcopalian in 2016. He explained he did not set out to join the clergy, but after feeling a tug in that direction he entered the structured process for discerning a call in the Episcopal Church in February 2017.
Dilday described the prospect of leaving as “bittersweet” in a then-confidential memo about possible scenarios to BNG’s board of directors in April. The memo culminated several months of conversations with Executive Director/Publisher David Wilkinson and the board’s officers and personnel committee. “BNG’s future is so very bright and, while no one knows better than I do the challenges it faces, no one knows better than I how well positioned it is to make an impact on the Church,” Dilday said.
“Robert has characteristically been honest, transparent and conscientious through each step of this profound spiritual journey,” said Wilkinson. “The important work of BNG and the underlying cause of a free press for Baptists and other Christians have been shaped significantly by Robert’s expertise and diligence. He has made our news reporting better, skillfully guided the expansion of our opinion content and kept us focused on our mission of interpreting Christianity and culture through compelling, faith-based journalism. He also has supported our reporting and storytelling projects about important issues of social justice – a passion that, along with his many other gifts, will continue to serve the Church and the gospel.”
Dilday’s is the second major staff departure so far this year. Lindsay Bergstrom, creative services director, left in February after nearly two decades in various roles at BNG and its predecessor ABP to work for the New Baptist Covenant, an organization aimed at healing racial and theological divisions among Baptists in the U.S. connected to former President Jimmy Carter.
Dilday received the bachelor of arts in history from Baylor University in 1978 and the master-of-divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1982. He was intern for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in 1982-83 and before that interned at the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine.
After seminary, he worked three years as associate editor of the Christian Index, news journal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, before moving to the Religious Herald in September 1986.