Veteran Baptist journalist Bill Webb announced plans to retire later this year, shortly after celebrating his 20th anniversary as editor of the Missouri Baptist publication Word & Way.
Webb, 66, announced his retirement plans to readers in a May 10 editorial. In his April 26 resignation letter to Word & Way trustee chair Jim Preston, Webb said he has “mixed feelings” about stepping down from a career spanning 35 years, but “I believe the timing is right for me and for Word & Way.”
Webb was elected unanimously in December 1995 as editor of what was then the weekly news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention founded in 1896. The state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention pulled out of the relationship in a dispute over election of the newspaper’s board of trustees and launched its own news organ, The Pathway, in 2002.
This century Word & Way has expanded its coverage area beyond Missouri into neighboring Midwest states and broadened its focus to news about other Baptist groups including Churchnet, CBF Heartland and American Baptist Churches USA. Last year Word & Way transitioned to a monthly magazine, after previously publishing every other week.
Before coming to Word & Way Webb worked 11 years as editor of the Illinois Baptist and as a staff writer for the Southern Baptist Foreign (now International) Mission Board from 1981 until 1984.
He graduated with a journalism degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. His first newspaper job was with the Register-News in his hometown of Mt. Vernon, Ill.
Webb said his specific retirement date depends on the process by the Word & Way board of trustees to evaluate the overall work of the organization and decide how best to move forward in finding a new leader.
“When I began my tenure on March 1, 1996, I could not have envisioned everything that would transpire over the years,” Webb said in his editorial message to readers. “I can honestly say that even the most challenging days — and we have had a few — have been very meaningful to me. Serving as Word & Way editor has again and again reminded me of the significance of our work to our constituents if done well.”
Webb’s announcement comes four years after he suffered traumatic head injuries in an accident during a leisurely bicycle ride with his wife, Susan, near their home in Jefferson City, Mo., a life-altering event with effects that still linger today.
The Word and Way staff surprised Webb March 19 by inviting guests to a drop-by reception at his church, First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, celebrating his 20-year anniversary.
Last month Webb won the Baptist Communicators Association’s Frank Burkhalter Award for Exceptional Achievement in News Writing for “Syrian and other refugees are our business,” a reflection piece on his experience visiting a refugee camp during a trip to Jordan in 2013.
Webb currently serves on the board of directors of Baptist News Global.