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The History of The Biblical Recorder

The History of The Biblical Recorder

The History of The Biblical Recorder

“ … a paper to rely upon; a paper to trust; a paper to take to one’s home, to one’s heart; a paper to love and to cherish.”

Since 1833, the Biblical Recorder has served as a news outlet for North Carolina Baptists. The organization was founded by Thomas Meredith, an early pastor, writer and denominational statesman in North Carolina.

Meredith was instrumental in the formation of the Baptist State Convention in 1830, and in 1832 other denominational leaders endorsed his decision to begin a newspaper for North Carolina Baptists.

In calling for such a publication, General Agent Samuel Wait said “It will easily be seen that we have long labored under great and very serious disadvantages in this state, from the want of a well conducted religious journal. Such a paper we might hope, being adapted to the existing state of our churches, would be productive of the best consequences. Much information on important subjects could be imparted to the churches and our congregations at large, many prejudices could be removed, and the way soon prepared for securing to the convention a larger amount of aid.”

With the young convention’s endorsement, Meredith started printing the newspaper on January 17, 1833 under the name Baptist Interpreter, changing it to the Biblical Recorder and Journal of Passing Events in January 1834. A year later, the name was shortened to Biblical Recorder. Meredith edited the publication from New Bern, where he was pastor of First Baptist Church.

“ … a paper to rely upon; a paper to trust; a paper to take to one’s home, to one’s heart; a paper to love and to cherish.”

Josiah Bailey

In 1838, Meredith and the newspaper moved to Raleigh. Since that time, the paper has been edited in homes, church offices, rented quarters, printing plants and the Baptist Building. The Recorder was owned by a series of individuals, other companies and a group of people who formed a stock company until 1938, when the Baptist State Convention purchased it and all of its assets. Today the offices are in the Baptist Building in Cary.

The Recorder was chartered as an affiliated agency and turned over to a board of directors who were charged with communicating the North Carolina Baptist story “while maintaining the rights and privileges of a free press.”

The newspaper has had some well-known editors, including the colorful Josiah Bailey, who later served as a U.S. Senator.

During the Recorder’s 70th anniversary celebration in 1904, Bailey wrote of his desire that the Recorder should serve to be a source of religious refreshment and a “bond of unity binding an ever-larger number of informed Baptists in faith and in interest in missions.”

The Recorder should treat all people justly, he wrote, “making record of events without prejudice and without fear and without favor; a paper to rely upon; a paper to trust; a paper to take to one’s home, to one’s heart; a paper to love and to cherish.”

Other notable editors during the first half of the 20th century included Hight C. Moore (1908-1917), Livingston Johnson (1917-31) and James S. Farmer (1931-38). The last half of the 20th century saw several editors serve long tenures, including L. L. Carpenter (1942-60), Marse Grant (1960-1982), and R.G. Puckett (1982-1998).

Carpenter and Grant enjoyed working during what W.C. Fields, editor of Baptist Press for 28 years, calls the “Golden Age of Southern Baptists,” a time of great expansion and little controversy. The paper reached its highest print circulation of about 120,000 in 1979.

Tony Cartledge (1998-2007) retired to begin teaching at Campbell University. Norman Jameson, who had worked at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, served as editor from August 2007 through December 2010.

Longtime N.C. Baptist pastor and well-known conservative leader K. Allan Blume led the Recorder from 2011 until his retirement in June 2019. Seth Brown, one of the Recorder’s youngest editors, took the helm in 2019 with a charge from the board of directors to help the news outlet find its place in a new digital era.

We help churches work together to make disciples of all nations.

The news media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years due to cultural, technological and economic shifts. As the times changed, the Recorder emerged as a leader among other Baptist publications for its pioneering use of web and social media platforms to publish news content for new generations of digital-first readers. Yet, the bi-weekly print edition remains a vital aspect of the Recorder’s work. Copies are still distributed to all 100 counties in North Carolina, 48 states and many foreign countries.

Today’s Biblical Recorder publishes and archives more material than ever. The staff works diligently to fulfill the paper’s mission statement: “We help churches work together to make disciples of all nations.”

The editor and staff of the Recorder write the first draft of Baptist history, and they are committed personally and professionally to make that record as accurate, balanced and comprehensive as possible.

Along with news, the Recorder publishes inspiring stories and leading voices that encourage and promote our common mission, all in keeping with our Baptist heritage of faith and freedom.

Our staff believes informed Baptists are better Baptists. We are here for you, and we are here because of you.

Editors of the Biblical Recorder

1833-1850       Thomas Meredith
1850-1853       Thomas W. Tobey
1853-1854       Marcus Meredith
1854-1860       J.J. James
1860-1861       J.S. Walthall and J.J. James
1861-1867       J.S. Walthall and J.D. Hufham
1867-1873       John Haymes Mills
1873-1875       A.F. Redd
1875-1895       C.T. Bailey
1895-1907       Josiah .W. Bailey
1907-1908       Charles W. Blanchard
1908-1917       Hight C. Moore
1917-1931       Livingston Johnson
1931-1938       James S. Farmer
1938-1940       George W. Paschal
1940-1941       John Calvin Slemp
1941-1942       Eugene Olive
1942-1959       Levy L. Carpenter
1960-1982       James Marse Grant
1982-1998       R.G. “Gene” Puckett
1998-2007       Tony Cartledge
2007-2010        Norman Jameson
2011-2019        K. Allan Blume
2019 …             Seth Brown

Click below to view the entire archive of the Biblical Recorder

Biblical Recorder (1834-1970)