EthicsDaily.com is emerging as one of the premier Baptist Web sites.
Launched two years ago this week, EthicsDaily.com creates a synergy between the two primary wings of the Baptist Center for Ethics. One wing is news and information. The other is educational resources. Both wings together ensure that Baptists have cutting-edge material.
BCE began 12 years ago with a number of convictions--call them assumptions of hope. The first was that BCE could interface with all Baptists. The initial planning group rejected the proposed name "Southern Baptist Center for Ethics," because we wanted to foster new relationships within the Baptist world. The word "southern" was too restrictive in a global society and was increasingly becoming identified with Baptist fundamentalism.
We labored for a number of years to introduce ourselves to moderate Southern Baptists. As our constituency grew, we also reached out with minimal success to American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. It was not until BCE launched EthicsDaily.com that we began to make substantive gains within ABC/USA and other Baptist bodies. Technology allowed BCE to bypass the gatekeepers of the old ways, as well as to find and be found by Baptists of good will.
Today, BCE has a growing constituency within ABC/USA, a dynamic relationship with the Baptist World Alliance and regular Baptist readers literally around the world.
We are not yet where we want to be as a pan-Baptist organization. But our rate of growth will ensure that EthicsDaily.com becomes the premier information web site for Baptist worldwide.
The addition of veteran journalist Bob Allen has certainly helped move the site forward. He has sharpened EthicsDaily.com's news edge. In recent months, he has led the way in coverage of the SBC's defunding of the BWA, as well as LifeWay's racially insensitive Vacation Bible School material and anti-women Winter Bible Study. His editing has improved the writing of our columnists and expanded the number of regular writers.
Another staff reason for our success is Cliff Vaughn, the site's culture editor. One of the brightest young Baptist minds, Vaughn frequently travels to previews of upcoming movies, where he interviews actors and actresses, producers and screenplay writers. His movie reviews and those of other contributors may offer EthicsDaily.com the most potential for Web site growth, especially as Baptist laity discover their quality work.
With some 30 contributors—columnists, book reviewers and movie reviewers—EthicsDaily.com offers a healthy range of insight. To date, Australian, Bangladeshi, Canadian, British and Bulgarian Baptists have contributed material.
Another assumption of hope was that we could grow a constituency with content. We were convinced that Baptists wanted high quality, thoughtful educational material. At first, we produced niche study guides and bulletin inserts for special observances. We later published undated, stand-alone Sunday school material under the imprimatur of Acacia Resources.
All this changed, however, with an experience related to the SBC's adoption of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement. BCE produced its first online curriculum piece, Real Baptists: Spotlighting the Changes in the Baptist Faith and Message. Conceptualized and published on a fast-track, BCE saw a hint of the potential for online material.
In the late fall of 2002, BCE added Jan Turrentine as the managing editor of Acacia Resources. Her assignment was to move BCE from occasional educational resources to publishing ongoing, online, undated Sunday school material. So far, she has edited four units: Courageous Churches, Living Wisely, Living Well, Doing the Will of God and Looking at Leadership.
While AcaciaResources.com is still the lower profile of BCE's two wings, its growth has picked up significantly in the past several months. More churches are ordering the online lessons and more are becoming repeat customers. Moreover, we are becoming a curriculum provider for new churches every week.
As AcaciaResources.com proves itself as a reliable resource provider and more folk become comfortable with online ordering, BCE's curriculum initiative will grow even faster.
Consequently, more folk will visit EthicsDaily.com to order material. They will also spend more time at the site reading movie reviews, news articles and columns. Those who know EthicsDaily.com for its news and information will explore the resource side.
The end result will be a perfect synergy, a holistic Web site for global Baptists.
Robert Parham is BCE's executive director.