Joy Fenner
Baptist Reflections
May 13, 2008


Recently, the directors of Associated Baptist Press presented their Founders Award to the Baptist General Convention of Texas. As president, I was privileged to accept that award on behalf of the BGCT. In preparing my response for the award presentation, I sought to discuss why the BGCT had so diligently supported ABP through the years. In researching the subject, I discovered three elements that were especially significant: people, process, and principle.

There were – and, thankfully, are – Baptists in Texas who insisted on receiving an accounting of happenings in the Baptist world that was fair and accurate, neither suppressed nor slanted. So they rejoiced when ABP was born – a Baptist news service independent and free to tell the truth. Fair and accurate, neither suppressed nor slanted. As it states on its Web site (, Associated Baptist Press is “the first and only independent news service created by and for Baptists.”

Texas Baptist leadership has, throughout the years, chosen to involve key people in the decision-making process, all of which has informed and built trust, all the while laying a foundation that has resulted in not only one-time funding but ongoing support. I believe, however, that the people have effectively worked the process because of the principle: Texas Baptists believe in freedom of the press. This is strongly evidenced by the independence of our newsjournal, the Baptist Standard, which partners with and supports the BGCT but is not controlled by the BGCT Executive Board. 


And yet, freedom of the press is just one piece of a much bigger picture: religious liberty.

Right now, I am reading three books:

Not one of these books is “fun” reading, I assure you. These real-life experiences of Baptist believers have reinforced vividly for me my understanding that, as long as there have been Baptists and Baptist churches, there have been those who paid a price for religious freedom. They remind me that true religious freedom means freedom for persons of all faiths, as well as those of no faith. Moreover, in a day when truth is handled so carelessly, I am reminded that freedom does not give license to do anything or nothing; rather, for the Christ-follower, freedom calls us to a standard far higher than any court or convention could place upon us … a standard of integrity and excellence.

Religious liberty is a precious part of our Baptist heritage, and a free press is essential to that liberty. May the BGCT – and all Texas Baptists – continue to give our unflinching support to those who strive to keep us informed with the unvarnished truth . . . even when it hurts!