July 31, 2002
ST. LOUIS – Missouri Baptists could be reading a print version of The Pathway as soon as Sept. 1.
Plans call for every pastor and director of missions in the state to receive The Pathway in a newsletter format – free — every other week through Dec. 15. Additional copies may be purchased through the subscription rate of $2, according to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board’s newsjournal committee which met July 30 at Ballwin Baptist Church, Ballwin.
"Negotiations are in progress with a contractor to handle the printing and mailing tasks," said Ben Hess, committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church, Herculaneum-Pevely. "The news journal committee and members of the executive board have felt the Lord leading us to this important aspect of His work among Missouri Baptists."
The executive board appropriated $70,000 at its July meeting for a biweekly print version of The Pathway. The board had previously appropriated $60,000 for the start up of The Pathway web site. Another $292,000 is earmarked for The Pathway in the 2003 proposed budget that messengers will consider at the MBC’s annual meeting Oct. 28-30 in Springfield. The Pathway’s $292,000 pales in comparison to the Word & Way’s annual budget that had reached $932,000 in 2001, with $450,000 of that coming through Cooperative Program giving to the MBC.
"We anticipate in 2003 that the Lord will bless Missouri Baptists with an even more effective means of communicating their work for Him," Hess said. "This committee, along with the executive board, is developing plans to launch a new newsjournal per the decision of the messengers at the 2002 convention in Cape Girardeau. Just as we have experienced the support of the executive board in developing The Pathway, so would we also like to be affirmed by the churches by them partnering with us in this effort toward 2003."
While he stopped short of saying that The Pathway will become a traditional state newspaper in print form in 2003, he encouraged churches to prayerfully consider including funds for subscriptions as they work through their annual budgeting process. While subscription rates for such a publication have yet to be determined, presumably rates would be more than the $2 subscription price of the newsletter, but less than the $12 individual subscription rate offered by Word & Way since The Pathway would, in all likelihood, be a biweekly rather than a weekly.
The newsletter will accept advertising, as will any new newspaper in 2003, although rates have yet to be established. Plans call for The Pathway web site to become permanent. The web site also accepts advertising and will continue to offer Missouri Baptists the option of downloading The Pathway – free of charge.
The Pathway, with its theologically conservative views, was named the MBC’s official newsjournal in April by the executive board, which stripped Word & Way of that title after its trustees voted to give themselves sole authority in naming their successors, thus removing Missouri Baptist churches from the process.
Messengers to the 2001 MBC annual meeting in Cape Girardeau in October responded by a voting margin of more than 3-1 to escrow $450,000 of CP money earmarked for Word & Way. Messengers also instructed the executive board to fund and publish an alternative newsjournal. The board appropriated $60,000 in April to begin the new, web-based state newsjournal. It then called former Baptist Press national correspondent Don Hinkle in May to run the operation.
The Pathway launched its Internet site, www.mbcpathway.com, June 8. It has remained exclusively a web-based publication with the exception of two special print editions – one for the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis and the other as an introductory issue mailed to every MBC church in July.