Interesting exercise to draw a line down the middle of your story

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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.

Early 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.

Second half

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.

Going forward

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

Rash named editor-elect of state Baptist newspaper

BIRMINGHAM (TAB) — Jennifer Davis Rash has been named editor-elect of the nation’s most widely circulated state Baptist newspaper — The Alabama Baptist (TAB).

Rash, who began her journey with TAB as a news writer Jan. 1, 1996, has served as executive editor of the publicjennifer-rash-10-4-16-smallation for the past six years.

She oversees the weekly production of the paper in all its formats — print, digital, social media, etc. She also has been directing the launch of a new website for http://www.thealabamabaptist.org and blogs at http://www.rashionalthoughts.com.
Rash has served alongside and been mentored by TAB’s editor and president Bob Terry for nearly 21 years. She joined the team five months after Terry became editor. Together they have helped lead the staff to receive more than 200 national and state awards for work in news writing, feature writing, editorial writing, layout, design, investigative reporting and broadcast.Terry made the announcement of Rash being promoted to editor-elect during the Oct. 7–8 TAB board of directors’ meeting in Birmingham.

“In 2010, Jennifer chose The Alabama Baptist a second time when she was offered the editorship of the Arkansas Baptist News that year and turned it down. It would have made her the first female editor of a major state Baptist paper,” Terry said.

“It was a hard decision but Jennifer chose to stay at The Alabama Baptist. She was clear. She wanted to be editor of a state Baptist paper. She was also clear in knowing that God called her to serve in Alabama.

“At some point I will finalize my plans for retirement and as I do so, it will be with great appreciation for the action of this board of directors and with great confidence in the future of this ministry,” Terry said.

Selection process mckeever-rash

The Alabama Baptist will have superior leadership. The board of directors, acting as a search committee of the whole, could not have done a better job in selecting the next editor and president to lead this ministry.”

TAB board chairwoman Amelia Pearson, Ed.D., explained that the board took its action in order to have a succession plan in place. The succession plan would be activated at retirement, resignation, incapacitation or death.

“The goal was for the organization not to be caught in a crisis time without having plans in place to proceed in an orderly fashion,” said Pearson, who is retired after serving as a college faculty member, dean and president across 40 years. “Many businesses have succession plans in place and that was a good model for TAB to follow.”

The board affirmed Rash in her quest to be editor six years ago, so she was the obvious choice when it was determined a succession plan should be established whenever and however that transition is triggered, Pearson said.

“Jennifer Rash is an exceptional writer and has demonstrated tremendous capacity as the executive editor,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have someone with Jennifer’s skills and talents to name as editor-elect for The Alabama Baptist.

“Jennifer has big shoes to fill as Dr. Terry has been a superb editor and provided excellent leadership to the staff and the board of directors for many years,” Pearson said.

“She is blessed to be able to work under Dr. Terry’s mentorship as she continues learning the various aspects of the paper’s top position.”

Rash agreed.

“To be able to learn so many life lessons, develop my skill set and grow up in general through the ministry communications channel of The Alabama Baptist has indeed been a blessing and a gift,” she said.

“I will always be indebted to Bob Terry for the investment and confidence placed in me to grow into the person capable of the position,” Rash noted. “And to have the unanimous support of TAB’s board of directors provides the strength and foundation I need to continue developing into the leader I hope will make them proud.”

Along with her responsibilities with TAB, Rash currently serves as vice president for Associated Church Press and is a past president of Baptist Communicators Association. She also serves as an instructor for the online ministry communication certificate through the Ministry Training Institute at Samford University in Birmingham.

Rash is an honors graduate from the University of Alabama with a bachelor of arts in journalism and earned a master’s of theological studies from Samford’s Beeson Divinity School. She grew up at Mountain View Baptist Church, Phil Campbell, and served two years on the missions field with the International Mission Board after college. She and her husband, Jason, have been married 19 years and are members of NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville.

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Western Recorder (Kentucky)

Word Slingers (Oklahoma)

 

What are you reading?

By Jennifer Davis Rash

My mother-in-law is an avid reader. That’s one of the things I love about her. She will tackle a new book with fervor and be wrapping up the final chapter within days, sometimes hours if everything lines up just right.

I love to read also, but I can’t seem to find the same discipline she does to complete a book quickly. It takes me much longer to make my way to the end, and I always seem to have seven or eight books in progress at the same time. Of course, reading several at a Reading cornertime rather than one may be part of the reason it takes me so long to finish them!

And while reading for pleasure seems like a luxury I rarely can afford to take, I try to remind myself of the importance it plays throughout our lives.

Studies have proven that babies who are read to learn and develop at faster rates than those who are not. Children who are encouraged to practice reading and develop disciplined reading habits do better in school and expand their social skills more quickly. Teenagers and young adults continue to learn and mature with a reading habit that grows with them.

The reality is that we can continue learning, growing and maturing by reading — no matter our age. Our awareness of the world and its issues is broadened, our knowledge basis is expanded and our ability to think reasonably is enhanced. And for those of us seeking to grow more and more like Christ, our faith is increased as we read and study His Word.

Technology today even allows those with visual disabilities to “read.”

One of the things I love about reading is the discovery process. Whether I’m reading specifically to gather new information or for escape — and no matter if the book or article is amazing or lacking — I always learn something.

Of course, I’m that person who counts any experience a success, even if it is the most boring of situations, as long as I walk away with one nugget of new information.

Another thing I love about reading is where it leads me. Almost every writer will point you to a wealth of new reading material if you pay attention. As I read other writers’ works, I make note of the books, articles, blogs, etc., that he or she references. And then I overwhelm myself trying to read them all!

Readers of The Alabama Baptist newspaper likely notice a similar experience as they flip through each issue. The “extras” are shared in many of the articles for those wanting more than what we can squeeze into our limited space. Readers also may have noticed we are expanding our media reviews section from a monthly feature to a weekly emphasis. 

As part of the expanded effort, we will be asking you about the books you are currently reading. From the submissions, we will select a few each month to publish in an upcoming issue.

What new book are you reading right now? Do you recommend it and why? Share your name, church home, city and state along with a brief review of the book you are reading. Email to news@thealabamabaptist.org and put “What I’m reading” in the subject line.

Try some of the books that will be recommended and let us know if you agree.

If you have written a new book, then be sure to mail a copy to our book reviewer Martine Bates Sharp at P.O. Box 1504, Hartselle, AL 35640, to be considered for an official review.

And, as always, thanks for reading my column. I appreciate you and the feedback you provide — even if the most popular request is that I change the name to “Ir-Rashional Thoughts.” 🙂