Zach Dawes (right) and Brian Kaylor (left) visit over breakfast during the Baptist World Alliance's 2016 annual gathering in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Photo: Cliff Vaughn)
Busy and fruitful.
That is how I would describe 2016 for Baptist Center for Ethics / EthicsDaily.com.
We hit the ground running following New Year's celebrations and didn't slow down.
In addition to my role in overseeing daily site content and social media accounts, I began the year focused on two EthicsDaily.com study guides that were out of print. They've been updated, converted from print to PDF and republished under new titles.
"Standing at the Crossroads" is a four-week study on Christian moral decision-making written by Ray Higgins, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas.
"Recognizing the challenge of making moral choices that avoids simplistic conclusions, the concise format and content flow prompt participants to become more sensitive, responsible, faithful followers of Christ in specific, real-life situations," said Fred Andrea, pastor of First Baptist Aiken, South Carolina, of Higgins' study.
"Walking in the Good Way" is a four-week study on proactive Christian discipleship written by Robert Parham, EthicsDaily.com's executive editor.
Wade Smith, pastor of First Baptist Norman, Oklahoma, said Parham's study "tells of biblical paths and stepping stones that open a way for us to engage one another to think and act as citizens of both kingdoms. ... We not only learn to walk with each other, but also how to walk more effectively as citizens of transformation in culture."
Both publications have a student guide and companion leader's guide. They can be used for individual study as well as for small groups, Sunday school classes and Wednesday night Bible studies.
In the first quarter of the year, I also helped develop free PDF resource sheets to provide our readers easier access to related EthicsDaily.com articles and videos as well as outside resources.
These include Baptist-Muslim relationships, immigration and immigration reform, MLK Jr. Day, civility (via the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas), payday loans and predatory lending, criminal justice reform as well as Lent and Easter.
We continued and expanded efforts to keep readers informed about global news and events, as well as surveys and reports, through news briefs and photo news stories.
News briefs are designed to summarize reports, studies, surveys and events that we feel will be of interest to our readers as well as to provide information about EthicsDaily.com initiatives.
We have published more than 100 news briefs this year (up from 71 in 2015), including several about the ongoing civil war in South Sudan.
These news briefs on South Sudan are the result of a relationship with Baptist leader Edward Dima, pastor of Kajo Keji Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Convention of South Sudan.
EthicsDaily.com first met Dima at the Baptist World Alliance 2015 World Congress in Durban, South Africa, where he provided an overview of the nation's history.
Throughout 2016, Dima has kept EthicsDaily.com staff informed about the ongoing crisis through email updates and pictures of Baptist ministries and humanitarian aid initiatives in South Sudan.
In addition to the South Sudan images, we compiled photo news stories from a Churchnet trip to visit Cuban Baptists, the Iowa caucuses that launched the 2016 presidential primaries, the Baptist World Alliance's executive committee meeting and annual gathering as well as two European Baptist Federation events - an immigration and refugees conference in Germany and the annual council meeting in Estonia.
Amid these initiatives, I attended my first Baptist World Alliance gathering in July in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I enjoyed both a break from the Texas heat and also a chance to meet with Baptists from nations across the world.
EthicsDaily.com media producer Cliff Vaughn and I also lined up interviews with Baptist leaders from several nations and compiled, with contributing editor Brian Kaylor, a photo news story.
As I noted in a column reflecting on the gathering, "Local church community is vital to Christian faith, but so is the global Christian community - particularly when it comes to challenging and refining the 'givens' of our current insights and perspectives."
Filling in the gaps between these initiatives were:
- A June breakfast event at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship general assembly during which we celebrated BCE's 25th anniversary, and
- The September release of "The Disturbances," EthicsDaily.com's latest documentary sharing a previously untold story about missionaries and local pastors intervening to save lives amid the 1966 genocide in Nigeria.
From May to late September, our staff worked diligently to complete not only the documentary but also the companion book with additional details and stories not included in the film for the sake of time. It is available in paperback and as an e-book.
As a busy and fruitful year enters its final days, our staff looks forward to a vibrant 2017 in which we continue our efforts to advance the common good. But we need your help to do so.
If you benefit from the resources we provide and have never made a donation, I hope you'll consider doing so to help us continue our work.
If you already give, I hope you'll consider making a commitment to making monthly donations or to increasing your annual donation.
Zach Dawes is the managing editor for EthicsDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZachDawes_Jr.
Editor's note: Donations can be made in increments of $5, $10, $25 and $50.