IBTS bloggers join the chorus of those who are disappointed to learn that “The Baptist Times” of Great Britain will cease publication in January 2012.
It has a long and glorious history as a weekly newspaper and has been read and valued by Baptists, and others, all over the world. IBTS is one of only a handful of places having a complete archive of the paper for the last century and into this century. It will be a gap in our library periodicals collection!
Prominent people have edited the newspaper down through the years, including such people as Fred Townley Lord (one time BUGB President), Geoffrey Locks, John Capon and, today, Mark Woods. The whole life of IBTS from 1949 until today has received fair and generous coverage from the newspaper and we will certainly feel the loss of its passing.
The “Baptist Times” had power to annoy this blogger over the past forty five I have been reading it by sins of omission and commission, but more often than not I have been glad it has been there faithfully reporting and commenting on the news – Baptist, Christian, general. Though for many years almost wholly owned by the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), there has always been protection of editorial independence. I have witnessed more than one General Secretary of the Baptist Union get very annoyed by articles and rush off to see the editor ! Yet, in the end that was a good thing – a denominational paper that was not simply a denominational propaganda sheet. This will go – and we should all lament it.
BUGB promises some modern technologically “whistles and bells” enhanced information service – but it won’t be the same. It will be an “official” sanitized view – inevitably. Stephen Holmes, in his blog on the topic makes the point that we bloggers, though offering commentary on Baptist life, can’t hope to achieve the approach of journalists moderated by editors. That is undoubtedly true and from now on, in Europe, we have to work harder at ensuring information is shared, issues are commented on, the voice of the dissident is not suppressed, because we are loosing a valued and esteemed resource.
Let the final word belong to Professor Richard V Pierard, a US Baptist historian who edited the BWA history who wrote to several of us in Europe on hearing the news :
“I read on the internet about the closing of the Baptist Times and felt that was truly a sad happening and a great loss for you. I send you my regrets.
Cordially, Dick Pierard “
– Keith G Jones