God has blessed The Pathway in many, mighty ways
Don HinklePathway Editor
October 26, 2004
October has been an historic month in The Pathway’s brief history as it became the most widely read Baptist publication in Missouri.
Not only did The Pathway’s circulation top the 15,000 mark, but readership also eclipsed 45,000 for the first time and continues to trend upward. Advertising revenue has more than doubled the 2003 amount and The Pathway’s Web site now experiences more monthly visitors than at any time during its 28-month existence. The Pathway Web site, which received a new facelift and added features earlier this year, is now visited by readers in 36 different nations. The site recently won a Web design award from the International Association of Web Masters and Designers and has been nominated for a second.
While God has been gracious and blessed The Pathway with numerical growth, I am most thankful to God for the staff He has assembled. In 18 miraculous months they have established The Pathway as a nationally respected publication known for its theologically conservative view of reality, aggressive reporting and thought-provoking opinions. While evangelism, missions and church planting will always dominate Pathway coverage, occasional not-so-pleasant stories will also appear. Why? Because life is not always easy or happy and the unpleasant stories serve as an important reminder of how desperately we need God’s grace. To ignore the unpleasantries of life would give Pathway readers a false impression of reality and I believe, ultimately, rob God of the glory He so richly deserves.
Dozens of Pathway stories have gone worldwide after being published by Baptist Press, the news agency of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Several other Pathway articles have been published nationally in publications like SBC Life and on Internet news sites like NewsMax.com. Pathway staff writer Allen Palmeri was selected by Baptist Press to be its reporter of choice for the recent 50-state tour completed by SBC President Bobby Welch. Palmeri spent the first 10 days with Welch as they traveled via bus through 20 states.
For the first time, perhaps in the history of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), the state newspaper aggressively covered the Missouri General Assembly as it grappled with several moral issues of concern to Missouri Baptists. An overhaul of the state’s foster care program and a pro-life bill requiring underage girls to get counseling from a physician while waiting 24 hours before having an abortion were both passed. The Pathway aggressively covered both.
The Pathway was also a key component in the MBC’s massive effort to educate and urge Southern Baptists in Missouri to vote against casino gambling in Rockaway Beach and for Amendment 2 (in support of traditional marriage) on Aug. 3. The newspaper – also for the first time — provided MBC churches (and some churches in other denominations) with more than 24,000 Voter Guides. We trust these guides educated Missouri Baptists on where the candidates stood on faith-related issues and made them a more informed citizenry.
Another first for The Pathway in 2004 was the completion of a readership survey. In April, about 10,000 surveys were inserted into each Pathway. Approximately 800 were returned and the results were encouraging.
For example, 81 percent rated The Pathway coverage “about right.” The same amount also said the quality of our news coverage was either “excellent” or “good” and the amount of ministry-related stories was “about right.” More than 80 percent of the respondents also rated the quality of our coverage of ministry-related subjects as either “excellent” or “good.”
Perhaps the most surprising response came to this question: “How often would you like to see The Pathway published? About 82 percent said stay “biweekly.” So we will, at least for 2005 (see related story on page 26.)
The Pathway has had an impact in ways other than through the stories it publishes. Pathway staffers have been on mission trips to Romania, India and Mexico. We have had the opportunity to preach in many Missouri Baptist churches and in other venues. For example, Allen has been a guest lecturer at the Baptist Press Journalism Institute in Nashville. The institute is geared toward college journalism students and attempts to educate them on the importance of bringing a Christian worldview to their craft – whether it be for the church or for a secular newspaper. The Pathway – along with The Florida Baptist Witness, The Christian Index of Georgia and The Southern Baptist Texan – earlier this year helped establish a scholarship in honor of the late James Hefley of Hannibal. The scholarship will be given annually to a deserving Southern Baptist who is pursuing a college degree in journalism.
All of this has enabled The Pathway to establish the much-needed credibility that enables such an endeavor as this to survive. Now the task is to improve and to make sure we never lose that credibility.
God has sovereignly chosen to bless The Pathway, I believe, because it has sought to bless Him. Have I or the staff been perfect? Of course not. We, like you, are fallible and subject to sin. All the more we live daily by the grace God has extended to those of us who have placed our trust in His son, Jesus Christ, who died on Golgotha’s Hill for those of us who believe. Nor would Pathway’s success thus far be attainable without the support of convention leadership like that supplied by MBC Executive Director David Clippard, Associate Executive Director David Waganer , the MBC Executive Board and its newsjournal subcommittee comprised of Cindy Province, Earl Wood, Neil Myers, Bob Noland and Jim McCullen. Finally, all of us at The Pathway owe a debt of gratitude to you, our faithful readers. May God bless each of you.