About 3 ½ years ago, the board of directors of the Florida Baptist Witness called me to lead the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention—an opportunity for which I will always be grateful.
Since that time, I have been responsible for creating a suite of print and digital products that capture the attention of and help set the agenda for those who are interested in the kingdom-building work being done by Southern Baptists in Florida.
Readers tell me they have appreciated the changes in the Witness.
It is no longer a twice-monthly print publication with a website that primarily republishes stories from Baptist Press and pays only modest attention to social media.
Today, we are:
• A monthly print publication with a modern design that highlights new sections and enticing features. We also include multiple pages of content in each issue devoted to the growing number of Spanish-speaking Florida Baptists.
• A website that, through the first half of this year, published 101 stories reported exclusively for or about Florida Baptists. Those stories appeared nowhere in our print editions, and are free to all readers.
• A YouTube channel that features documentary length videos with Florida Baptist pastors. Again, this content is free to everyone at http://bit.ly/2o896zr
• Active participants on Facebook and Twitter with literally thousands of fans and followers. We use social media to give you the very latest news and information, ask questions and respond to yours. After all, it is called social media for a reason.
• In stable financial condition. Through the first half of the year the Witness carried a small surplus thanks to your church’s generous Cooperative Program giving, which accounts for about 50 percent of our budget, and a steady stream of circulation renewals and advertiser support.
To God goes all the glory for everything He is doing through the Witness to connect believers and grow His kingdom. I am honored that God has shown me His will for this season in the life of the Witness, and has allowed me to be a part of this ministry’s legacy.
I am also honored to have been able to work with a number of Florida Baptist pastors and lay leaders who have given generously of their time to set the direction for the Witness as members of its governing body. It also has been gratifying to work with the Florida Baptist Convention in a way that the Kingdom has been advanced. And, once again, to God goes all the glory.
In the midst of this relatively short journey, God has recently redirected me. He has called me to the newly created position of director of communications at Bell Shoals Baptist Church, a multi-campus church in the Tampa area. I am excited about the opportunity to work with Senior Pastor Stephen Rummage and his ministry team.
I will be in a position that supports all campuses of Bell Shoals Baptist Church by executing a churchwide strategy in the areas of communication, promotion, advertising, social media, brand management and news and information. I also will have the opportunity to work closely with campus ministries, Bell Shoals Baptist Academy and Moving Forward, the radio ministry of Pastor Rummage.
I would covet your prayers for me, my wife and daughter during this time of transition between Jacksonville and the Tampa area, and for clear direction on how to help Bell Shoals with its communication needs.
I also would ask that you join me in praying for wisdom for the future of the Florida Baptist Witness. The Board of Directors is in the process of meeting with Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green and, as needed, other members of the Florida Baptist Convention to discuss and decide on the best strategy for the Witness going forward.
The Witness Board of Directors will communicate its path forward at the appropriate time. Until then, thanks to each of you for all your support, past and present. I look forward to continuing our journey forward to know Him and make Him known to a state and world that are in desperate need of a Savior.
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor. The article originally appeared in the August print edition of the Florida Baptist Witness.