Stepping into this new year and new decade brought a significant milestone for me personally.
I’ve now spent half my life serving Alabama Baptists through The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media — and I can’t think of anywhere else I would have rather been.
I joined the TAB team on Jan. 1, 1996, at 24 years old, and on Jan. 1, 2020, I celebrated 24 years with TAB.
Countless people have poured into me through the years, and many continue investing in my growth, something I truly treasure as a big believer in mentoring and cross training.
A quick look back over the years shows clearly how God was working all along the way.
What I thought was a short-term position while completing my studies at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University quickly became home and the obvious place where God had called me to serve.
‘If God called me …’
While I had no idea how the calling would work itself out nor what all would appear along the path, I trusted that if God called me to do it, He would guide me step by step —
and He has been faithful.
He has provided continuous opportunities to learn and grow, and He has put many amazing mentors and co-workers in my life to teach me along the way.
The deep friendships formed through the years fill my heart and make me even more grateful to be part of the broader Alabama Baptist family.
But how did I get here?
Drawing a line down the middle of your story can be an interesting exercise. For me, there are two sets of 24 years.
In the first set, you will find my growing up years on a farm in Phil Campbell, Alabama — a rural community in the northwest corner of the state.
During those years I thought the norm for all children was to grow up in a safe, loving environment with plenty of food and parents who taught life skills and a strong work ethic.
Experiencing life outside those early years has taught me many people didn’t have that opportunity and what a privileged upbringing I had.
Also in my first set of 24 years, you will find two years spent studying at Northwest Community College and another two years spent studying at the University of Alabama.
And while I grew up in church and part of a large extended family of believers, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I truly gave my heart and life to Christ.
It also was during college that I surrendered to a call to full-time Christian service, which led to a search for what that meant.
After college graduation, I spent two years serving with the International Mission Board as an editorial assistant with Caribbean Christian Publications focused on the English-speaking Caribbean.
God provided intense opportunities for me to grow spiritually, professionally and relationally during those two years. When the term ended, I found my 24-year-old self at TAB with no idea where that would lead.
Reflecting on my current mid-point marker and these past 24 years at TAB helped me realize just how many strides have been made by a variety of different team members who were under the direction of Bob Terry for most of those years. What a gift to get to tag along for the ride.
Since 1996, the TAB team has moved from focusing on one product — a weekly newspaper — to becoming a full media group with multiple daily deadlines in 2020.
The first webpage came along in 2000 and a fully functioning website in 2004. TAB found its way onto social media platforms in 2007–2008 and then launched the digital version of the print publication in 2010.
Augmented Reality was added to the mix in 2015 and lasted for a few years, along with several attempts at live streaming and video newscasting.
A robust new multilevel website was developed in 2016 along with the debut of a new logo and rebranding effort.
In 2018, the TAB News radio show and podcast hit the airwaves, and in 2019 a visually impaired cartridge and new glossy magazine were added.
Granted, technology advancements allowed for much of the expansion to take place, but it also took vision, courage and training to make the moves.
With the various new elements in the picture, it could be easy to let the print product slide away, but the focus on the newspaper continues to be an important part of the team’s work.
We plan to continually polish the 177-year-old weekly newspaper currently entrusted to our care. It has won more than 250 national awards in less than 25 years, and we are determined to keep it among the best available.
We also are excited to introduce a trickle of new glossy magazines being produced by TAB for special events and specific emphases.
Coming to the airwaves will be more podcasts available on the TAB Media channel as well as more growth in the audio digest version of TAB for the visually impaired.
And our online presence through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube), web resources and the digital version of the paper will no doubt continue to adapt to that constantly changing realm.
What changes will we see in the next 24 years? I’m not sure, but I’m confident we are ready to figure it out step by step.
—Jennifer Davis Rash