Editor’s Note: Below is a tidbit from “Across the Editor’s Desk: The story of the state Baptist papers,” by Erwin L. McDonald, editor of the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine from 1957 to 1971.
At the close of a denominational emphasis service in one of our churches an old deacon came up to me as editor of the state Baptist paper and asked: “What does an editor do, anyhow?”
“One thing he does is to make up the paper,” I replied, thinking of the selection of materials and their layout or arrangement.
Quick as a flash, the old fellow quipped: “I’ve been knowing for a long time that somebody was making up a lot of that stuff I’ve been reading in our paper!”
A sign that former President Harry S. Truman used to have on his desk in the White House would be appropriate for any editor’s desk: “The buck stops here.” Regardless of how little or how much of the paper is actually created or “made up” by the editor, he is the one who is in full charge and who must carry the total responsibility for what comes off the press each week.
Week in and week out the editor is the director of a symphony of staffers and co-workers that includes, in most cases, secretaries, an associate editor, a managing editor, a mailing clerk, printers, artists, proofreaders, staff and special writers, news services, and others. But the materials in any one issue which are actually written by the editor may be a comparatively insignificant part of the whole. In the paper which I edit, for example, Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, the only regular, week to week items by the editor are the editorials, a “personally speaking” column, and the book reviews. All of these can be done by “remote control” if the editor has to be away from his office for a week or for several weeks at a time, as sometimes happens.
In the middle of a several-weeks tour of Europe and the Holy Land, one of my fellow pilgrims asked: “Who’s putting out the paper while you are away?” Before I could reply, one of my smart-aleck colleagues from the Baptist building responded: “The same ones who put it out when he is not away!”
With that out of the way, I would like to turn to more serious discussion.
You may have read or heard recently about the struggle within the ranks of the United Methodist Church (UMC) over affirming biblical marriage (see related story, page 3).
A United Methodist communications colleague told me some months ago that this issue and others are likely to split the church soon because the divide among the church’s constituency is so deep.
The UMC General Conference meeting in St. Louis Feb. 23-26 affirmed traditional marriage by a narrow margin, 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent, mainly due to the backing of UMC Bishops in Africa, where the denomination is growing in contrast to declining in the U.S. The difference? They overwhelmingly support biblical marriage.
Thankfully, Southern Baptists long ago settled this issue within our ranks, teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and in subsequent years passing resolutions at annual meetings to affirm that belief.
What is disconcerting about the UMC decision is how narrow the “margin of victory” was for the mainline denomination in support of traditional marriage and how it required support from Bishops in Africa to accomplish it.
The close vote further accentuates the drift of our country toward humanism and secularism, and the continuing falling away from the tenets of God.
Let’s commit to pray for our United Methodist brethren in these days, that they might be led by the Holy Spirit to decisions that direct the souls of men to the true gospel and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.
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