BCA Lifetime Members
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.