With this issue, the Western Recorder observes 190 years of Baptist newspapers in Kentucky, beginning in 1825 with the publishing of The Baptist Recorder by George Waller and Spencer Clack and The Baptist Banner in 1834 by James Wilson and John Waller, both predecessors. Nearly a century ago, the Western Recorder joined the Kentucky Baptist Convention family in 1919, and perhaps it is appropriate to pay tribute to the editors who have served Baptists of the Commonwealth since that important juncture and on whose shoulders we gratefully stand.
Victor Masters (1921-1942) was the first editor of the Western Recorder appointed after it became the official news journal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. A native of South Carolina, he was a graduate of Furman University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously having served as pastor of two churches in South Carolina and one in Virginia, Masters served as associate editor of The Baptist Courier in Greenville and of the Religious Herald in Virginia, before joining the Home Mission Board’s staff as superintendent of publicity. During those volatile early years, Masters was called upon to alleviate tensions between moderate and conservative groups vying for control of the Baptist newspaper’s voice and of the state convention, facing head-on many of the most pressing doctrinal and moral issues of early 20th Century Baptists.
John Freeman (1942-1946) was executive director of the Tennessee Mission Board immediately prior to becoming editor of the Western Recorder. Freeman was fitted for the position, having served for eight years as editor of the Baptist & Reflector prior to becoming executive director for 10 years. Freeman was not a stranger to Kentucky, however, having graduated from Southern Seminary and holding several pastorates, the last of which was First Baptist Church of Springfield. He was widely known as a leader among Southern Baptists.
Ruel Tifton Skinner (1946-1957), a native of Murray and graduate of Union University, was pastor of First Baptist Church of Bowling Green when he was called to be editor. He was a trustee of Georgetown College and served on a state convention committee that began the Baptist pastor’s plan with the SBC Annuity Board. He is remembered as possessing a sweet and gentle manner that afforded him an ability to expose a wrong view without roasting the other person and was known for his genuine appreciation of young ministers who served small country churches. He was buried in Bowling Green in 1978.
Chauncey Daley (1957-1984) would become admired throughout Southern Baptist life as “the dean” of state Baptist newspaper editors. During his 27-year tenure, Daley’s editorials, “Daley Observations,” were some of the most well-read and highly influential of their day. The Georgia native was a graduate of Mercer University and earned three degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to being named editor, Daley served as pastor of several Kentucky congregations, including Woodburn, Providence in Franklin, and Harrodsburg, before becoming a professor at Georgetown College for more than a decade. After retiring, he taught at Boyce Bible School.
Jack Sanford (1984-1989), a former Memphis pastor, was editor of the Western Recorder while I was an intern staff writer and student at Southern Seminary. One of his dreams was to achieve a strong endowment for the Western Recorder in order to “produce results for Christ until our Lord returns,” as he stated it. His greatest legacy, however, sprang from his pastor’s heart and a love for the local church. A native of Ohio, he was a graduate of Carson Newman College and Southern Seminary and held pastorates in Philpot, Pembroke, Paducah and Florence. He had served as first vice president of the state convention and as a member of its executive board. He also was a faculty member of Boyce Bible School. He is the only editor to die while in office, after suffering a heart attack.
Marvin Knox (1990-1995), a feature editor for Baptist Press, news service of the SBC Executive Committee, assumed the editorship in 1990. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, and the son of a Baptist minister, he is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University and Southern Seminary. He was working as assistant news editor at the Home Mission Board in Atlanta, Ga., from 1979-1981, when he left to pursue a degree at Southern, where he would serve as director of news and information services. After graduation, he became associate editor of the Baptist Message, newspaper of the Louisiana convention, before moving to Baptist Press two years later. He currently is editor of the Baptist Standard in Texas.
Mark Wingfield (1996-1998), who had been the paper’s news director since 1991, advanced to editor in 1996. Previously, he had been associate director of news and information at the former Home Mission Board in Atlanta, Ga. He also was director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was assistant editor of the Baptist New Mexican in Albuquerque, N.M. A graduate of the University of New Mexico, he attended Southwestern Seminary. He later joined Knox at the Baptist Standard as its managing editor in 1998, and now serves as associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
Trennis Henderson (1999-2008) was editor of the Arkansas Baptist newsmagazine for seven years before being named editor of the Western Recorder. A seasoned denominational journalist, he previously had been managing editor of the Word & Way for Missouri Baptists. Also a graduate of Southern Seminary, he was a staff writer and advertising representative for the Western Recorder while a student. Maintaining a reputation as a gifted writer—with a keen wit—and respected spokesman on matters of faith, ethics and Christian life, Henderson now is vice president of communications for Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.
The legacy of these capable editors and statesmen have made Western Recorder a respected news journal of the most outstanding witness and Baptist voice in their generation, devoted to those who love the truth and trust the people. We count it as a great blessing and esteemed privilege to humbly follow in their footsteps of serving the Lord and Kentucky Baptists.