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Kentucky Baptist History -- 1770-1922
By William D. Nowlin

Chapter 14
The Unification Program and Great Forward Movement -- 1919

[p. 155]
From the beginning of the "Whitsitt Controversy" (or shortly thereafter) to the year 1919, Kentucky had two Baptist papers -- The Western Recorder and the Baptist Argus (later The Baptist World). The very fact that these two papers had been considered the organs of the "Anti-Whitsittites" and "Whitsittites" respectively served to perpetuate, at least in the minds of the people, the division. The Baptists of Kentucky, however, trying to get away from the old controversy and unite their forces in the state for a great forward movement, decided that the first step necessary to this much desired end was the consolidation of the two papers.

The Two Papers Consolidated

The following is the history of the transaction, as recorded in the minutes of the State Board of Missions:

Called meeting of the State Board of Missions at Broadway Church, Louisville, Ky., July 23, 1919.

Secretary O. E. Bryan presented the following resolutions:
Whereas, The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has requested a special campaign in the territory of the Southern Baptist Convention to place the denominational state papers in all of our Baptist homes as a method of publicity during the Seventy-five Million Campaign; and
Whereas, Kentucky Baptists have two outstanding denominational papers, the Western Recorder and the Baptist World; and
Whereas The relation between these papers seems
to forbid the most effective statewide simultaneous campaign in keeping with the request of the repre- sentatives of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

Whereas, Kentucky Baptists keenly desire to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention in the simultaneous drive for the papers, therefore, be it
Resolved, (1) That the Baptist State Board of Missions in Kentucky endeavor to purchase the Baptist papers of the state affiliated with our organized work, and operate them under the direct control of State Board Missions.
Resolved, (2) That it is the purpose of the State Board to have one great denominational paper.
Resolved, (3) That a committee of five be ap- pointed by the chairman with authority to consummate the financial transactions incident to the establishment of a single state paper subject to the ratification of the executive board.
Resolved, (4) That we instruct this committee to make no concession in this transaction that would embarrass the state board m naming the combined paper or in electing an editor for the same.
Resolved, (5) That we instruct this committee in co-operating with the corresponding Secretary to close up the deals as early as possible, provided the managers of these papers are willing to sell.
Resolved, (6) That this committee be instructed that if there be any disagreement as to the value of the properties under their consideration, that disinterested business men be requested to appraise the same and that said appraisement shall be the basis for the consummation of the transaction.
Resolved, (7) That we express our good will toward all of these papers and hereby earnestly request their management to give due consideration to tJlis proposition which we believe will be for the best interests of Kentucky Baptists and for the glory of God.

Wm. D. Nowlin, one of the editors of the Western Recorder, moved the adoption of these resolutions, and the vote was unanimous.
[p. 157]
The committee for establishment of paper was composed of the following brethren: O. E. Bryan, W. M. Stallings, W. W. Landrum, H.S. Summers and B. H. Lovelace.

Meeting of Board, August 10, 1919
Report of the Committee

Your committee, according to instruction, opened negotiations with the Western Recorder and the Baptist World with a view to their purchase by the State Board of Missions. After several conferences with representatives of both papers, they called meetinigs of their directors and submititted the following proposition:

FIRST, We the directors of the Baptist Book Concern and publishers of the Western Recorder of Louisville, Kentucky, hereby offer to the Baptist State Board of Missions of Kentucky the Western Recorder and its entire subscription list consisting of 10,000 subscribers, more, or less; the advertising contracts for said paper, for the sum of $20,000. It is hereby understood and agreed to by both parties to this contract that the name of the paper shall be unchanged and shall continue to be known as "Western Recorder."

(Signed) J. W. PORTER, Chairman of Board,


SECOND: The Baptist World Publishing Company desires to make this substitute offer to your committee in lieu of the offer made your committee on July 29, 1919.

"We will sell the paper and printing department., which would include the subscription, list and amounts due on unpaid subscriptions to the Baptist World, together with the linotype, printing presses and all other maehin,ery and appliances used in the printing department, together with the stock of paper on hand for the sum of $15,000.


By Boyce Watkins, President."

[p. 158]
The committee communicated with News and Truths, of Murray, Kentucky, which paper was not for sale.

The committee also coinmunicated with the Russell Creek Baptist, which paper they did not consider a state paper.

No liabilities of either paper assumed by us. The subscription lists of each paper with all amounts due and unpaid on same are included in said offer as well as amounts due on advertising contracts.

It is also understood that neither the Baptist World Publishing Company nor the Baptist Book Concern shall own or publish a paper so long as the State Board of Missions owns and publishes the Western Recorder as a state organ and that the good will of both papers is included in purchase of said papers. While our committee was instructed to make no concession which would embarrass us in operating a paper for the state, certain conditions have been practically agreed to by representatives of both papers which we recommend as follows:

That the name Western Recorder shall be the exclusive name of our state paper.

We recommend that the salary of Dr. E. B. Hatcher for one year, or such part thereof as is unpaid, be assumed by the state board and he shall be retained on the new paper in such relation and for such service as shall be agreed upon by the Board of Managers. The items above named are mutually conceded.

We further recommend that a Board of Managers consisting of seven members shall be appointed by the chairman of this board, qf which Board Secretary O. E. Bryan shall be one and C. W. Elsey, chairman of state board, another.

We further recommend that the finances of said paper shall be handled through the state board office and that our corresponding secretary, O. E. Bryan, shall be its business manager.

As the paper is t"a be owned and controlled by the
[p. 159]
State Board of lMissions, and is to be an asset of the same, we recommend that money for the purchase of the paper shall be taken from the $900,000 designated for state missions in such amounts and at such times as it can be done without injury to other state mission items.

(Signed) O. E. BRYAN,





The foregoing resolutions were adopted and the following Board of Managers was elected in the following way:

On motion the recording secretary was instructed to cast a ballot electing each of the following seven brethren as a member of the Board of Managers of the Western Recorder as the state paper. Following the instructions the secretary announced that the vote had been so cast: O. E. Bryan, chairman, C. W. Elsey, C. M. Thompson, W. M. Stallings, W. W. Landrum, W. M. Seay, and H. B. Lovelace.

The following motion was adopted: That the Board of Managers of the state board paper be authorized to elect an editor for the official state paper.

Meeting of the Board of Managers of the Western Recorder
At the Watterson Hotel, September 9, 1919

Motion was made by Doctor Landrum, seconded by Doctor Thompson and carried unanimously, that at the top of the editorial page of each issue of the Western Recorder there shall appear this statement:

J. W. Porter . . . Managing Editor
E. B. Hatcher . . . News Editor
0. E. Bryan . . . Business Manager

[p. 160]
Meeting of Board of Managers of Western Recorder
State Mission Rooms -- 205 E. Chestnut St.
Louisville, Kentucky, May 24, 1920.
Moved and carried:

"That it is the sense of this body that the dual editorship of the Western Recorder cease with September 1, 1920, and that the present editors of the paper be notified of that fact. From that date one man is to give his entire time to the paper, is to be held responsible for the editorial policy and general make-up of the paper, and that he be charged with looking after increasing its subscription list. It is further understood that this action is taken without prejudice to, or committing ourselves to either of the present incumbents.

"Motion carried that secretary be instructed to send a copy of this action to each of the editors of the Western Recorder."

The Rev. O. E. Bryan, D.D., corresponding secretary of State Board of Missions in Kentucky, is entitled to much credit for the consolidation of the two papers and the unifying of the forces in Kentucky.

The Great Forward Movement

In May, 1919, the Southern Baptist Convention in session in Atlanta, Georgia, put on foot the great "Seventy-five Million Campaign." This, of course, helps to account for the great advance shown in 1920, for the actual campaign was not put on until after our state meeting in Georgetown in November, 1919. The minutes (p. 17) of the meeting in Georgetown November, 1919, show a total of receipts by the State Board of Missions of $455,104.61. The minutes for the Owensboro meeting November, 1920 (p. 19) show total receipts $1,412,165.92. This is a marvelous advance

The Rev. O. E. Bryan, D. D., corresponding secretary of Missions in Kentucky at this time, is entitled to much credit for this success. He is a man of splendid spirit and fine executive ability. It should be borne in mind, however, that Kentucky had already
[p. 161]
developed the "Budget System," and that it was functioning well before we put on the Seventy-five Million Campaign.

Back of this glorious achievement there is a long struggle that should not be overlooked. Such men as J. W. Warder, D..D., J. G. Bow, D.D., and W. D. Powell, D. D., rendered efficient service as corresponding secretaries of our mission board.

It was the day of small things when Doctor Warder traveled over Kentucky collecting a dollar here and there for missions, and urging the churches to adopt an envelope system of collecting mission money. He did a good work in getting many of the churches to adopt this system, which came to be known as "The Warder System."

Dr. J. G. Bow, than whom there is not a straighter, cleaner man and truer Baptist, followed Doctor Warder and put into the mission work of Kentucky a business system which has told immensely for good. It was through the efforts and influence of Doctor Bow that Mr. Theodore Harris left in his will the large sum that was left to the Baptists of Kentucky. The Baptists of Kentucky owe Doctor Bow a much larger debt than they will ever pay him. Few men have been worth more to the Baptist cause in Kentucky than J. G. Bow.

Following the administration of Doctor Bow came the enthusiastic, energetic W. D. Powell. Doctor Powell was not the systematic executive that Doctor Bow was, nor that Doctor Bryan, his successor, was, but he was the superior of either of them in raising money under high pressure appeals. Here Doctor Powell was a brilliant success. Mission contributions grew very much under the eloquent and fiery appeals of this mission champion.

Thus it will be seen that when Doctor Bryan came into office he found the foundation work well done. The systematic Bow had thoroughly systematized the work, and the zealous Powell had fanned the missionary spirit all over the state into a flame, so that
[p. 162]
Doctor Bryan's work was largely a work of combining and directing the forces of the state. In this he exhibited rare ability. Doctor Bryan is one of the greatest mission secretaries in the South. He has resigned his work with the State Board of Missions in Kentucky and gone to the Home Mission Board, Atlanta.

On September 1, 1921, Dr. C. M. Thompson, a man of splendid ability and equipment, came from the pastorate of the First Baptist Church, Winchester, Kentucky, to the secretaryship of the State Board of Missions. Doctor Thompson is making a great secretary, though he is just now getting fairly started in his new position.

[William D. Nowlin, Kentucky Baptist History -- 1770-1922, 1922, pp. 155-162. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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