BCA Lifetime Members
For nearly 35 years, Erich Bridges faithfully reported God's work among International Mission Board missionaries across the globe as an IMB international correspondent. His stories brought to life the experiences of missionaries, local believers and unbelievers in a way that raised awareness among Southern Baptists and spurred them to increased prayer and financial support, facilitating the spread of the gospel to some of the hardest-to-reach places on the planet.
Erich's "Worldview" column also inspired and challenged thousands of people as he candidly observed and discussed issues of concern to Southern Baptists and the broader evangelical community.
Ann Lovell, corporate director of Communications with LifeSpire of Virginia, was first inspired by Erich as a young college student seeking to find God's purpose in her life. "Then as a young woman in my twenties working for a federal agency in the nuclear industry, Erich's stories about North Korea helped me understand not only the threat North Korea's nuclear ambitions posed but also the intense suffering of North Korean Christians," she wrote in nominating him as a BCA Lifetime Member.
Years later as a Christian worker living in Seoul, Lovell recalled, "I experienced the passion of South Korean Christians as they prayed for the opportunity to take the gospel to the north and heard the stories of some who escaped the hermit kingdom. Erich's stories from the 1990s lit a spark within me that God later 'fanned into flame' - to be alert to the ways God works through international events to make His name known."
Erich's passion for the craft and his no-nonsense approach serves as examples to all. Now in retirement, he continues to develop stories that challenge and inspire, expanding his influence within Richmond and beyond.
Bill Bangham is a familiar name among Baptist communicators, and for good reason. Beginning his career as a freelance writer and photographer, Bangham most recently served as the director of The Academy in Richmond, Va., leading students in storytelling, advanced multidisciplinary communications training and more. Prior to that he spent 29 years serving in different communications roles at the International Mission Board (IMB).
Starting out in biological sciences in Washington, D.C., Bangham never lost his love of marine biology but quickly moved to another passion: telling stories through photographs and the written word.
He became editor of World Mission Journal for the Brotherhood Commission in 1981 and served in that position until 1989. Then he became an editor at the Home Mission Board (now NAMB), serving on the staff of MissionsUSA magazine. In 1995 he moved to the Foreign Mission Board (now IMB) where he was their director of presentation and later editor-in-chief of IMB's flagship publication, The Commission magazine, in 2000. In 2003, Bangham became director of photography at the missions sending agency and then editorial and photography director in 2006. In 2008 his role changed to director of media production until he became The Academy's director in 2014.
Over the years he has also been a guest lecturer at California Baptist University, University of the Nations and Union University, a colleague at Genesis Photo Agency, and, since 1992, a staff member and presenter for the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. He is also co-founder and board member of the American Belarussian Relief Organization, and has generously lent his skills as a faculty member, speaker or judge for a variety of courses and gatherings. And not surprisingly, as a young man he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Bangham has been a faithful member of BCA for many years, having served as its president in 2010-2011, and he takes seriously the need to pass on the skill of storytelling to the next, and the next, generation. He holds the distinction of having been awarded seven BCA grand prize awards in four separate divisions Ñ including photography, feature writing, news writing and publication design Ñ and his work has been honored by many other organizations as well. He has led multiple sessions for the annual BCA workshop and the recently created Fall Forum.
He retired in 2016 but continues to carry his film camera at all times and works tirelessly in the world of communications to touch the eyes and heart of a person.
For more than 40 years God has used Don Hepburn's gifts and skills as a denominational servant in public relations and communications to tell the good news story of Southern Baptist involvement in missions and ministry. His journey began as a student at Carson Newman College where he was a public affairs specialist at the school's radio station. As a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he served as part time public relations assistant and was promoted to director of communications. Following that he was director of the office of communications and public relations for the Southern Baptist General Convention of California.
In 1983, he traveled back to his home state where he was named director of public relations for the Florida Baptist Convention, a role he served in for 33 years until his retirement in December, 2015. There, he worked behind scenes to ensure Florida Baptists learn about the missions and ministry enterprise they were committed to. He oversaw print, visual and electronic media. But he was best known as a wise and respected public relations counsel to the executive director, asking the hard questions and taking that role to a new level within the organization.
Don Hepburn, an Accredited Public Relations, APR, professional, became a member of Baptist Public Relations Association, now BCA, in 1971. He served as treasurer of the organization from 1977-1983. He received more than a dozen awards from the W.C. Fields Awards competition.
He has also inspired nearly a dozen BCA members, encouraging them to play a vital role in the organization and to strive for excellence in Southern Baptist communications. His influence can be seen in the lives of many current members who now serve BCA as officers and dedicated members because of his guidance and mentorship.
Barbara Fly Owen
Barbara Fly Owen served on the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) for nearly 32 years, in a variety of positions including coordinator of public relations and later public relations specialist.
She performed a variety of public relations functions including the distribution of news releases and public service announcements. Barbara also edited in-house communications material and developed brochures for TBC departments and ministries. She served as editor of "The Green Light," the convention's promotional magazine.
Barbara was a member of Baptist Public Relations Association (BPRA), prior to the organization changing its name to Baptist Communication Association (BCA).
In 1984-85 Barbara was elected to serve as BPRA's first administrative coordinator. During her first year, BPRA launched a computerized mailing list. She also coordinated mass mailings and oversaw the printing and distribution of the BPRA newsletter.
The following year, the duties of the former placement coordinator were added to her duties.
Barbara served as the administrative coordinator until the organization voted to employ a paid director.
Among several important communication positions he held in his lifetime, Chip Turner played a vital role in the early days of Southern Baptists' efforts to harness the power of cable and satellite television to share the gospel.
A native of Louisiana, Turner served the Louisiana Baptist Convention for 16 years as its communications director and state director of American Christian Television System (ACTS).
Turner spent a year helping Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., in the areas of cable television, video conferencing and institutional advancement in 1995 and authored ÒThe Church Video Answerbook.Ó
Turner spent three years as national director of local programming for Odyssey Network (previously ACTS).
He then spent 10 years with FamilyNet, another network acquired by the Southern Baptist Convention. He worked for FamilyNet in the areas of marketing, corporate relations, broadcast affiliates and ministry partnerships.
Before retiring in 2014, Turner served P.R.A.Y. Publishing, a non-profit organization providing programs and resources to churches and youth agencies, as director of communication and training for four years.
Turner has been a faithful member of BCA for many years. His longtime connection to Southern Baptist communications work made him ideally suited to be our historian, a position he filled from 2001 to 2004. In that role, he was instrumental in helping plan BCA's 50th anniversary celebration in 2004 and he compiled the second edition of "We've a Story to Tell," a history of BCA, updating James H. Cox's original work to include entries from 1987 to 2004.
Before the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) hired Ron Lawson in the area of electronic media in 1982, any audio/visual media that the mission board release was either through 16MM film, film strips or slide presentations. Lawson brought video to the Home Mission Board (HMB).
Prior to his arrival at HMB he was the music and education minister for Bethel Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo., where he was pursuing his master of divinity degree at Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary. This would be his second master's degree. He earned his first master's from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., where he also worked as their director of video services.
While at Oklahoma State he worked on several Public Television commissioned documentaries and productions. Lawson also worked at WFAA TV in Dallas, Texas, and KAUZ TV in Wichita Falls, Kansas, where he served as a managing producer.
Lawson created Missions USA Video Magazine, which was one of the first nationally, distributed video products available for Southern Baptists. The magazine-style product included missionary stories, man-on-the-street interviews, news tidbits related to religious life and sermon-starter vignettes.
Lawson also envisioned and carried out the building of HMB's video studio and edit suites and eventually took on the position of director of media strategy.
After his first retirement Lawson began consulting with the Georgia Baptist Convention. He helped the convention plan and build their TV studio, audio and video editing suites and much of the A/V in their then state-of-the-art facility in 2006. He became a consultant for electronic media where he led a team of producers.
Lawson also was instrumental in the development of Life With Purpose Radio, a nationally syndicated radio program that is on more than 80 stations across the United States.
Lawson retired for the second time March 15, 2015.
During her 36-year career as a writer, editor and editorial team leader at IMB, former BCA President Anita Bowden mentored and encouraged several generations of mission journalists. And applied swift kicks to their posterior regions when they missed deadlines, complained about editing or generally acted like misunderstood geniuses.
But she had to prove herself as a mission journalist first.
Anita remembers a time she was told she wasn’t qualified to work at the mission agency. She was a wide-eyed English major just out of Lynchburg (Va.) College. The personnel director told her she needed a journalism background. She returned with a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. But there were no jobs.
Nine months later – in September 1977 – a position opened and she began working as a temporary, part-time writer for the then-Foreign Mission Board. Baker James Cauthen, president at the time, was recovering from a recent heart attack. Times were tough, money was tight and he had to sign off on all new full-time hires. It wasn’t until January her position became fulltime.
In those days, mission writers didn’t travel overseas. They sat at their desks, grinding out their stories from snippets and pieces gathered by others. There were three of them and they took a round-robin approach to editing, passing their stories between each other. It quickly became evident that Anita had a knack for editing.
With the 1980s, writers began to travel. Anita’s first assignment came in 1981. Over a period of five weeks, she gathered stories in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. “I had enough material to last me for weeks!” she says. The next year, photographers began traveling with writers and she went on assignment to Bangladesh and India with the late, great Don Rutledge.
“It was a wonderful experience,” she says. “Don would ask questions like: ‘What’s the story here?’ and ‘How are you going to write this?’ I didn’t have a clue.” She realized that for Don there was no sitting behind a desk pondering over a story, that a story was a here-and-now reality for photographers. They had to get it now. It changed the way she worked.
Overseas assignments became a thing of the past for Anita as her abilities as an editor became more prominent. Her titles and responsibilities began to change: from news writer to news writer/editor, then news editor, and eventually director of the print and editorial departments. She helped lead IMB communications as the agency developed a magazine/news operation that not only inspired Southern Baptists to support missions but was taken seriously by journalists around the world.
Writers wanted – and still want – Anita to edit their stories. She is known for asking the hard questions, the ones no one else will ask, for shaping stories and helping writers become better at what they do.
One writer would give her a story, then ask, “What’s the snooze factor?” “Sometimes I would tell him I fell asleep after the third paragraph,” she recalls with a laugh. But it is her mastery with the red pen that makes her a favorite. She never tries to change a writer’s style. “I work hard at that,” she says.
Anita retired from the IMB in September 2013 after 36 years. It was a big chunk of a lifetime. Yet through those years, “I never lost the value of what we are doing,” she says.
“I think there is going to be a lot that the communicators of the board have done that will show up in eternity.”
Anita has been married to her husband, Ron, for 36-plus years. They have two children, Laura and Kevin, and three grandchildren. They are active in First Baptist Church, Ashland, Va.
Jim Burton has held diverse communication and mission roles, first joining the Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission in February 1986 as Baptist Men's Editor. In that role he helped reestablish the agency's relationship with Baptist Press and started the Office of Communication.
In 1994, Burton became the director of Men's Ministries. With the formation of the SBC North American Mission Board in 1997, Burton became the Volunteer Mobilization Team director.
Beginning in 1986 and for about 10 years, Burton worked with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), typically serving as a public information officer during major responses.
In 2007, Burton returned to Mission Education to serve as its director at NAMB. During the next three years, the team developed or revised 13 curriculum resources and implemented a social media strategy.
A longtime member of BCA, Burton has served in leadership roles for the association and has been recognized for award-winning work in the annual W.C. Fields Awards Competition.
Burton is a 1978 graduate of Western Kentucky University with majors in photojournalism and business administration. He received a Master of Divinity degree with communication arts concentration from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1985. He will receive his Doctor of Ministry degree next month from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
For 44 years, Dana Williamson, nicknamed the "queen of feature stories" traveled across the state of Oklahoma writing feature stories about fellow Baptists and their commitment to the cause of Christ.
As a young 2O-something, Dana was hired in 1968 as a staff writer for the Public Relations Department of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. In 1994, she joined the staff of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger where she retired as associate editor in December 2O12. Throughout her career, Williamson worked with six Baptist Messenger editors including current editor Brian Hobbs.
Since 1968, Williamson has been an active member of BCA, attending countless workshops across the years and garnering numerous awards annual W.C. Fields Awards Competition for her exceptional work. She also has served as BCA secretary, scholarship chairman and membership vice president.
Reflecting on the impact of her BCA involvement, Dana said, "I think any Baptist journalist or communicator who does not take the incredible opportunities offered by BCA is missing out on something that can change their careers and provide new and exciting venues for growth in their fields."
For nearly three decades, Ty Wood, 66, has captured video images of Florida Baptists as they minister on mission in their community, state and the world. Wood retired in 2011 after 28 years of service to the Florida Baptist Convention as media services director. The video story-teller is a scriptwriter, producer and videographer. Wood has been an active member of BCA since 1988. He has been recognized for his compelling video stories with many awards from both religious and secular organizations, including BCA's prestigious M.E. Dodd Memorial Award, given for significant achievement in radio, television, film and video. In addition to serving on many BCA committees, Wood has served as BCA awards chairman and was instrumental in planning BCA workshops in Jacksonville and Mobile. Prior to coming to the Florida Baptist Convention in 1983, the Covington, Ga., native served in a variety of media-related positions in California and Texas; and in the U.S. Army, both on active duty and in the reserves, from 1966-1976, including a stint in Vietnam. Since his retirement, Wood has been working on scriptwriting and video production projects in Jacksonville, Fla., where he and his wife, Roblyn, are active members of Southside Baptist Church.
Warner, 56, was a Baptist journalist for more than 30 years. His unexpected early retirement in 2008 for health reasons cut short what already was an outstanding career with two national agencies (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and the late Radio and Television Commission), a state Baptist newsjournal (Florida Baptist Witness, Jacksonville, Fla.) and finally through Associated Baptist Press. His work was recognized multiple times by Baptist Communicators Association (BCA), and he served as an officer on more than one occasion. Warner was part of the special study committee in 1984 that helped to restructure what was then Baptist Public Relations Association into a more autonomous organization and led to the hiring of a part-time executive director/administrator to coordinate the association's work. He also served as a mentor to many aspiring journalists through intern programs. Warner and his wife, Cheryl, live in Jacksonville, Fla.
Mary Jane Welch
For more than three decades, Welch has been telling the story of how God is at work among Southern Baptists serving on foreign lands. In 1978, Welch found a home at the former SBC Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board, IMB) and remained there until her retirement in December 2010. After more than seven years as an FMB staff writer, where she wrote about mission work in Africa and was editor of Focus newsletter, Welch became assistant director of the news and information office in January l986. It was during this time, she also initiated and coordinated channeling of missions information into denominational publications throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. From 1995 to 2003, Welch served as editor of The Commission, and was interactive editor of creative strategies from 2003-2008. Welch's journalistic abilities while working for the IMB resulted in her receiving numerous awards in the BCA annual awards competition, and she served as a BCA officer more than once. Welch came to the IMB from the Southern Baptist Convention Brotherhood Commission in Memphis, Tenn. She and her husband, Tim, are members of Atlee Community Church in Mechanicsville, Va.
Warren, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), began his career as a Southern Baptist communications professional when he joined the public relations office of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, while pursuing a seminary degree. After seminary, the International Mission Board (IMB) offered Warren a job as senior editor of the news office in Richmond, Va., where he worked for four years. From the IMB, Warren went to the Baptist Brotherhood Commission as associate editor of World Mission Journal, followed by a nine-year stint at the Tennessee Baptist newspaper as associate editor under Al Shackleford, who also served as a mentor for Warren. After this, Warren served for nine years as editor of Home Life magazine, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources and director of public relations at OBU. In 2000, Warren joined the staff of the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine where he served as editor for 11 years until his retirement in December 2010. Warren's career garnered him numerous awards in the annual BCA awards competition. Warren and his wife, Sandy, live in Knoxville, Tenn., near their two sons and four grandchildren.
For three decades William H. "Bill" Boatwright coordinated the public relations efforts of North Carolina Baptists. Unlike many journalists, he found a home and did not wander. The San Antonio, Texas, native graduated from Baylor University in 1963 and from Southern Seminary in 1968. In 1977 he earned a masters degree in mass communications from the University of North Carolina.
After three years as a writer at the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) in Richmond, Va., he came to North Carolina in 1971 and stayed until he retired in 2003, a 32-year tenure that elevated him to the No. 1 spot for reporters from all over the state to call and check the pulse of Baptists. His insight and grasp of nuance is legendary to the point that even six years after retirement and living in another state he still fields calls from reporters asking for the low down on North Carolina Baptists. He was an early adapter of video to tell the message and kept North Carolina Baptists on the leading edge of human-touch technology. Walls of the communications wing at the Baptist state convention building are lined with Baptist Communicators Association awards won by Boatwright and those under his direction. Since retirement he lives in Clarksville, Va., and teaches adjunctively at Campbell University.
Jack E. Brymer
One of the gentle giants of Baptist journalism in the last 40 years is Jack E. Brymer. This son of Alabama and graduate of Samford University has served Baptists with distinction, as a professional journalist, as a dedicated church member and as a volunteer missionary – never seeking the limelight and much preferring to work behind-the-scenes to make the world a better place. Jack served for many years as associate and managing editor of The Alabama Baptist before becoming editor of the Florida Baptist Witness in 1983. Jack never wavered from his principles and his strong commitment to responsible journalism. After his departure from the Florida state paper, he returned to his alma mater and provided eight years of distinguished leadership for Samford's office of communication. But, it's not the offices held or the awards won that define Jack Brymer. It's the admiration he has from colleagues around the world. It's his love of missions and the many trips he has made to spread the gospel and to help develop communication for Christian endeavors in remote parts of the world. It's in his love of church and his untiring work as a lay volunteer at Birmingham's Baptist Church of the Covenant. It's in his ministry to the less fortunate in his community. It's in his love of family and the obvious pride you see and hear when he talks about his beloved wife, Shirley, and his children and grandchildren. It's in his concern for and mentoring of aspiring young journalists. Those are the things that exemplify the real Jack Brymer.
Floyd A. Craig, began his relationship with the then named Baptist Public Relations Association in the early-1960s. His leadership service to the association included: two separate terms (1965-66; 1966-67) as newsletter editor; program vice president (1967-68); and as president (1968-69). Craig holds the distinction of having served twice as the chairman of the association's awards competition, first for the original competition in 1963 and then again in 1969-70. His creative photographic and design abilities while working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma resulted in Craig receiving nine awards in the 1967 BPRA annual awards competition – the most awards ever collected by a single member up to that time. In 1969, he was awarded a "Best of Show" in the awards competition for his "Issues and Answer" series produced for the former Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission. Following his service as director of communications for the Christian Life Commission in 1979, Craig served as a special assistant to the governor of North Carolina. He moved to Nashville in the mid-1980s and opened Floyd Craig and Associates which has provided marketing and communications services and public relations consultation to Southern Baptist agencies, institutions and state conventions to the present day. He is the author of the "Christian Communicators Handbook: A Practical Guide for Church Public Relations," published in 1977.
James H. Cox
James H. Cox has been committed to telling and selling the story of Baptist communicators across the decades. He is the author and compiler of the three editions of "We've A Story to Tell," the history of Baptist Public Relations Association originally published in 1986, and made a mark in six elected positions within the organization. These are: newsletter editor, 1964: membership vice president, 1967 and 1974; secretary-treasurer, 1975; program vice president, 1977 and 1989; president, 1977; and awards chairman, 1978. Recruiting new members for the organization became his greatest passion as he enlisted between 20 and 30 new members every year. One year Jim was awarded an authentic American Indian headdress as the prize for winning the new member enlistment contest, an honor he earned annually. While he was perhaps best known as an assistant editor with the Kentucky Western Recorder from 1975-1991, Jim also served Baptist communications as a press representative for Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center, newswriter and editor for the Baptist Sunday School Board and two stints as director of public relations for Belmont College. He has owned his own public relations firm and retired after time in corporate marketing. In his retirement years he taught marketing and management at several colleges and universities in Louisville, Ky., where he still resides.
Dan Euliss, a graduate of East Carolina University, began his career as a Southern Baptist communications professional in 1974 when he joined the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as art director and assistant director of communications. He served in that position for 10 years until he joined the staff of the Home Mission Board as director of the promotion office, which he directed ably for 13 years. He then came full circle and concluded his career as a Southern Baptist communications professional back at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as director of stewardship and state missions offering promotion. His career garnered him several awards in the annual BCA awards competition. He was not content to serve as merely a member of our organization; he was a leader. He served as newsletter editor and he designed the logo for BPRA (the former name of BCA). Euliss was bestowed the honor of the "Order of the Long Leaf Pine," which is among the most prestigious awards presented by the governor of North Carolina. The honor is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state, which could include contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers and many years of service to their organizations. Euliss is currently retired and lives with his wife, Pam, near Lake Hartwell in North Georgia.