By Staff, Baptist Message
ALEXANDRIA – The Board of Trustees of the Baptist Message met in a special session on Jan. 23 and voted to enter into an agreement with the Louisiana Baptist Convention that will place Kelly Boggs over the LBC’s public affairs work.
Boggs status as editor of the Baptist Message will remain unchanged.
The addition of the new role will see Boggs function in a dual capacity whereby he will continue the public affairs work that John Yeats initiated when he served as the LBC Director of Communications.
Yeats began the public affairs work three years ago when he acted as the LBC’s liaison to the Louisiana Legislature. His presence at the State Capitol gave Louisiana Baptists a much needed voice in the public affairs arena.
“Dr. Yeats’ time in Baton Rouge convinced me that we need to have a presence at the legislature, if nothing else to push back against the darkness,” LBC Executive Director David Hankins said. “Liberal activists are present in Baton Rouge and aggressively pushing their agenda.”
When Yeats heeded the call to become Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention in November, Hankins contemplated the future of the work Yeats had pioneered.
“John [Yeats] did a great job as our public affairs officer and under his direction the work had built momentum,” Hankins said. “I really wanted to keep the momentum and not lose ground.”
In considering what direction the public affairs work should take, Hankins sought Boggs’ insight. “I knew Kelly had a penchant for cultural issues and legislative issues,” Hankins said, “so I thought he could offer some wise counsel.”
“While in Oregon I had volunteered in a similar role,” Boggs said. “As a result, I had some definite ideas of what I believe the public affairs office could accomplish.”
During their meeting it became obvious to Hankins that Boggs not only had specific thoughts concerning the public affairs work but he also exuded a passion on the issue. “I listened to Kelly for a while and thought, ‘Perhaps he is the one to continue the work,’” Hankins said. “So I asked if he would be interested.”
“When Dr. Hankins asked if I might be interested in filling the public affairs role, I said I would certainly pray about the possibility,” Boggs said. “He [Hankins] suggested that we take a few weeks and talk again sometime before Christmas. Dr. Hankins also indicated that if I felt led to pursue the public affairs work, I should tell him how I would like to approach it.”
As Boggs prayed about the situation and discussed it with his family. he felt that combining the public affairs work with his work as editor was not only doable but preferable. “From a stewardship point of view, I thought combining both jobs made sense. It would save money. Anybody who knows me knows that I like the idea of saving money.”
Boggs continued, “The areas I would focus in regard to the public affairs work are areas I already give attention to on a daily basis because I routinely write on these issues. The biggest change would come from being out of the office when the legislature is in session.”
“With the technology that is available today, even when I am away from the office I am not really ever out of the office. When I travel I am in constant communication with the staff. And, the Baptist Message staff is more than competent; they are some of the most motivated people I have ever worked with.”
Boggs contacted Hankins and said he wanted to meet prior to the Baptist Message’s December Board meeting. Boggs indicated that he wanted to propose the dual capacity and the Board would have to approve it.
As Boggs and Hankins met to work out the details of an agreement, it became clear to Boggs that the proposal could be a definite “win” for the Baptist Message. The money being used to fund the public affairs work would enable the newspaper to create a new staff position to give greater attention to promotion of the Baptist Message.
“I was more than pleased with how things worked out,” said Boggs. “It seemed evident that the paper could really be strengthened through this proposal.”
The proposal was presented to the Baptist Message trustees during the Board’s December meeting. The proposal was discussed for more than two hours before board members voted to take time and pray about the proposal and then meet on Jan. 23 to vote on the issue.
The proposal includes a two-year commitment on behalf of the Baptist Message and the LBC with the option for either party to terminate the agreement at any time and for any reason with 90 days notice.
“We believe this proposal will work,” said Hankins, “but if any problems develop for either party, we wanted to provide away to end the agreement amicably.”
On January 23 the trustees of the Baptist Message met in special session. After a brief discussion the Board voted unanimously to approve the proposal.
“As Southern Baptists we need to be at the forefront of these issues,” said Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Covington and current LBC president. “At times it seems we have lagged behind a bit. I was pleased when John Yeats began this work. I think this is a good fit.”
Glen Wagnon, trustee chairman said, “This is the right decision. This is a very needful ministry and having worked on the Board with Kelly, I know he is already giving attention to these issues.
“As a former pastor, this is one of those things that has always been of interest to me,” Wagnon added.
“After praying through this,” said board member David Theriot, pastor of Immanuel Baptist of Morgan City, “I have a peace. It seems like a good fit.”