Editorial: Charting a new course for the Florida Baptist Witness
by KEVIN BUMGARNER
Executive Editor

Article Date: Feb 6, 2014

 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:17b-21

My route to the Florida Baptist Witness, where I started this week as executive editor, is the culmination of a journey for which God has been equipping me for the past 23 years. 

That path started in Kansas, and has included stops in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas before my most recent assignment in Honolulu.

I’ve spent that time working as a reporter, editor and editor-in-chief for a company that publishes local business news in print and digital forms across 43 of the most dynamic markets in America, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami.

During my time with the company, I’ve had the opportunity to start a print publication and website, launch a trio of blogs, create Sunday business and personal finance sections and redesign print and digital content on multiple occasions. In Hawaii, I’ve spent the past 18 months helping my newsroom go even further. There, we literally rethought how we reported and presented news. In the process, we went from a newsroom focused on a weekly print product that supported a website on the side to a digital-first news organization with an emphasis on social media and an array of enhanced print products.

But those professional opportunities are the smallest part of my story, because I am first and foremost a child of the living God, and I have tried to live out the truths found in Eph. 3:17-21 while serving in a variety of volunteer capacities in Southern Baptist churches. That passage is foundational to how I view the world, and on the days of my greatest surrender its truths permeate my heart. 

I grew up in a Christian home, started a personal relationship with Jesus Christ while in elementary school and, as a college student, was able to see God at work in a life-changing way while taking part in four summer mission trips to the Four Corners area in the Southwestern United States. It was there that I preached my only sermons, and had the opportunity to explain the gospel to people whose lives had been softened by the calling of the Holy Spirit to join Him in a personal faith journey.

Over the years, I have worked with youth and young adults, served as a decision counselor and was ordained as a deacon while attending Life Community Church in Jamestown, N.C. I also have served as part of the new-member ministries at the churches where I’ve been a member in North Carolina, Texas and Hawaii. 

I mention these experiences because they’ve helped form my framework for seeing how God works through the local church, and under my stewardship the Florida Baptist Witness will do everything in its power to strengthen and encourage the work taking place in a countless number of Southern Baptist churches from the Panhandle and Jacksonville to Miami, the Gulf Coast and all points in-between.

I want to tell the story of your church, where you lead or volunteer. I want to tell the story of a Savior who has chosen, primarily through the local church, to do immeasurably more than we typically ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, so that He gets all the glory and our hearts are turned toward Him. 

I am excited and humbled when I think that God has called me to lead the Florida Baptist Convention’s state newspaper at a defining moment in its history.

I respect the FBW’s rich 130-year legacy of publishing “Good News about God’s Work that encourages, enables and exhorts Florida Baptists to exalt God and extend His Kingdom.” And I know we have decisions to make about how we should deliver content in this present age where technology has created the greatest revolution in the world of media since the Gutenberg press and the invention of moveable type.

As I begin to learn the Florida landscape, I would encourage you to reach out to me and share your story, your church’s story or the story of the church or ministry down the street or across the state. Help me understand how God is at work in our state.

At the same time, I will begin making contact with many of you, both face to face, through social media and via email. I want to know what you want from your Florida Baptist Witness. What would make it valuable to you and those with whom you interact? How can we make even more of a difference in the next 130 years, should God tarry His coming for that long?

Feel free to answer these questions and propose others. But please engage me in a dialogue. I can be reached at the Florida Baptist Witness at 904.596.3171, by cell at 904.504.2630, via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com and Twitter @FBWdreamchaser. I am also available on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn under my given name. I look forward to talking with you about the  future of your Florida Baptist Witness.

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wofford19 (2/7/2014)
Kevin, You have set the bar high. Great article that will be difficult to improve on.Will be praying for you. - George Hodges, Greensboro, NC

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