To our Virginia Baptist friends:
“I sure miss the Herald.” We hear that lament periodically when speaking with a veteran Virginia Baptist who remembers that one or both of us served as editor of The Religious Herald. We are honored and grateful that people found useful and now feel the absence of an enterprise to which we dedicated our best energies for more than 18 years combined.
But it also makes us sad. The Herald was more than ink and paper. It was the embodiment of Baptist ideals and aspirations. Our Baptist commitment to soul freedom, our Baptist practice of democratic church government, our Baptist zeal for missions, our Baptist conviction about a free church in a free state flourish in an environment where Baptists are informed about our life together. The less we are informed, the narrower our vision. For over 180 years the Herald was the primary source of information about Virginia Baptist witness and work.
Not many years ago Virginia Baptists dropped the ball. They let funding for the Herald shrink dramatically, severely restricting the paper’s chances for sustainability. Reasons were given: people don’t read newspapers anymore; younger people don’t care about denominational ministries; churches are giving less to support Baptist entities; people want positive news stories, not coverage of controversial issues. There is a sliver of truth in each of these excuses. But the hard truth, the truth many cannot face, is this: for more than a decade, a commitment to faith-based journalism has not been a priority for Virginia Baptists. Even more recently, too many Virginia Baptists have given in to the handwringers who howl that a free press is our enemy, not our friend.
Thanks be to God, there is today a dynamic alternative to The Herald and one that honors the paper’s rich legacy of editorial freedom and journalistic integrity.
Leadership and friends of the Religious Herald were instrumental in creating Baptist News Global in 2014 by merging the Herald and Associated Baptist Press, the only independent news service created by and for Baptist Christians. BNG’s delivery system is electronic instead of print. No longer do you wait on the vagaries of the United States Postal System to deliver your print edition. You use your smartphone, tablet or laptop to access timely news and opinion about matters of faith whenever and wherever you want.
BNG’s mission is similar to that of the Herald. Its content, while also similar, is national and international in scope, reaching a much broader audience of Baptists and other Christians. Over the past 12 months, baptistnews.com has recorded more than 1.8 million visits and 3.5 million page views from users in 200 countries. Free of the limitations of paper, ink and postage, baptistnews.com offers exponentially more content than any Baptist state paper could ever have done.
As part of the merger agreement, BNG has published a print magazine – purposefully titled Herald – for five years, mailing it free to every former subscriber to The Religious Herald. The 36-page, vividly-designed publication has been well received. However, the goal of producing a compelling magazine that Virginia Baptists and others would continue to support as faithful donors rather than paying subscribers has not been realized. The December edition will be the last issue.
All content at baptistnews.com is provided free of charge to readers worldwide. There are no subscription fees and no paywalls. BNG relies upon voluntary contributions from individuals and churches – supporters who believe an independent and trustworthy source of news and opinion is essential to the integrity of the Baptist witness to the gospel. This unique ministry is made possible by people like you.
Better informed, loftier, more civil conversations are needed if we want our nation and our Christian communities to thrive in a polarized environment in American culture, politics and religion. Every day BNG fosters “Conversations That Matter” about our common life and faith. Virginia Baptists – long champions of religious liberty, including freedom of the press – should be at the forefront of an endeavor that has never been more important.
Let’s not drop the ball again. Please join us in supporting BNG’s outstanding, independent journalism by making a generous, year-end gift today. If you have made a contribution recently, THANK YOU!
Michael J. Clingenpeel
Member, BNG Board of Directors
Editor, The Religious Herald, 1992-2004
Former member, BNG Board of Directors
Editor, The Religious Herald, 2005-2013
P.S. You can also join the Sustainers Circle – supporters who make a recurring, monthly gift via automatic withdrawal from a bank account or via credit card.