Baptist journalist Walker Knight dies at 95
DECATUR, Ga. (BP) — Walker Knight, a longtime Baptist journalist credited with advancing racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention, died Dec. 1. He was 95.
Editor of the Home Mission Board’s Home Missions magazine from 1959-83, Knight gained a reputation for publishing engaging missions features and articles that challenged entrenched attitudes about race. He became the subject of controversy in January 1967, when a cover story on black pastor and civil rights activist William Holmes Borders provoked hundreds of readers to cancel their subscriptions.
But HMB chief executive Arthur Rutledge stood by Knight, and Home Missions went on to win numerous awards. The publication changed its name to Missions USA later in Knight’s tenure.
“Home Mission magazine was perhaps the most effective communication piece that caused Southern Baptists to become more open and sensitive to racial reconciliation,” former HMB staff member Emmanuel McCall, the first African American to serve on the staff at any SBC entity, wrote in his 2007 book “When All God’s Children Get Together: A Memoir of Baptists and Race.”
Following his retirement in 1983, Knight helped establish the moderate Baptist publication SBC Today amid the SBC’s budding Conservative Resurgence. He also authored or contributed to more than 10 books.
Prior to his tenure at the HMB (precursor to the SBC’s North American Mission Board), Knight was associate editor of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Baptist Standard newsjournal from 1950-59. In that period, the Baptist Standard’s circulation grew to 355,000 — more than half the circulation of all today’s Baptist state papers combined. Previously, Knight held secular journalism posts in Kentucky and Texas and pastored First Baptist Church in Dale, Texas.
He held a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and an honorary doctorate from Mercer University.
Knight was preceded in death by his wife Nell and is survived by four children and four grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for Dec. 14 at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., where Knight was a member.
Corey Abney named pastor at Bell Shoals
BRANDON, Fla. (BP) — Corey Abney has accepted the call to pastor Bell Shoals Baptist Church, an 8,000-member congregation with five campuses in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
The 44-year-old Abney is currently lead pastor of Florence Baptist Church in northern Kentucky, where he has served since 2012.
“I am eager to start serving at Bell Shoals,” Corey said following the church’s unanimous affirming of his call on November 24. “This is a church with a rich history in West Central Florida, and I know that God wants to guide our church toward even better days in the future.”
Florence Baptist, located less than 15 miles outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, has seen its worship attendance grow by a third under Abney’s leadership. It also started two church plants and established multiple partnerships in northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati during Abney’s tenure. He also led the church to start a second campus as part of a revitalization effort.
Abney has a doctorate in Preaching, Old Testament and New Testament from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Abney and his wife Christina have four children.
Ezell’s ‘Quick Takes’ podcast helps pastors find balance
By Brandon Elrod
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Pastoring a church can take its toll. The personal and spiritual nature of the vocation requires pastors to deal with deep stresses that other jobs often do not entail.
Through a recently launched podcast, “Quick Takes with Kevin,” North American Mission Board (NAMB) president Kevin Ezell aims to equip and encourage pastors. Ezell sits down with experienced pastors to have them share insights they have gained throughout their years of ministry.
“I wanted to call it ‘Cracker Barrel with Kevin’ because, to me, that’s one of the easiest places to have a conversation about anything, but it’s too hard to get permission to use the restaurant’s name,” said Ezell. “I’m trying to give pastors the feeling of sitting across the table from some fellow pastors and learning from their successes and struggles.”
New episodes release every Wednesday. Currently, the conversations stem from various chapters in a book called Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt. The focus of the podcast is to encourage and equip pastors as they balance the demands of life, leadership and ministry.
“I’m not claiming to have a lot of wisdom or all the answers,” Ezell said, “but I do have some pretty smart friends, so each episode features pastors who are living out these topics and learning from them. It has led to a lot of great discussion so far.”
In the first episode, SBC Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd shares about the day he decided to stop allowing his calendar to control him, protected time with his family and dedicated his mornings to being with the Lord.
Chuck Herring, pastor of Collierville (Tenn.) First Baptist Church, tells about a near-death experience that solidified what was truly important to him, and Thom Rainer, past president of LifeWay Christian Resources, discusses how to stop being a people pleaser.
“Pastors are NAMB’s number one customer and we want to serve them well. One thing I know for sure is many of them are hurting and struggling,” Ezell said. “Too many throw in the towel each year and give up pastoring for good. I hope we can help encourage them and help them figure out ways to return to a healthy balance.”