Jennifer Davis Rash has been named editor-elect of The Alabama Baptist newspaper in a succession plan for editor Bob Terry.
Terry, a 50-year veteran in Christian journalism, told the newspaper’s board of directors during an Oct. 7-8 meeting in Birmingham, “At some point I will finalize my plans for retirement, and as I do so, it will be with great appreciation for the action of this board of directors and with great confidence in the future of this ministry.
“The Alabama Baptist will have superior leadership,” Terry said of Rash. “The board of directors, acting as a search committee of the whole, could not have done a better job in selecting the next editor and president to lead this ministry.”
Rash has served as executive editor of The Alabama Baptist (TAB) for the past six years, overseeing the weekly production of one of the nation’s most widely circulated state Baptist papers in all its formats – with 66,000-plus print and 1,000 digital subscribers as well as social media. She also has been directing the launch of a new website for thealabamabaptist.org, to go live by Nov. 1.
She joined the paper’s staff as a news writer on Jan. 1, 1996, five months after Terry became editor, now having served with him nearly 21 years. They have helped lead the staff to more than 200 national and state awards in news writing, feature writing, editorial writing, layout, design, investigative reporting and broadcast.
Terry told the board of directors, “In 2010, Jennifer chose The Alabama Baptist a second time when she was offered the editorship of the Arkansas Baptist News that year and turned it down. It would have made her the first female editor of a major state Baptist paper.
“It was a hard decision but Jennifer chose to stay at The Alabama Baptist. She was clear. She wanted to be editor of a state Baptist paper. She was also clear in knowing that God called her to serve in Alabama.”
TAB board chairwoman Amelia Pearson said the board took its action to have a succession plan in place to be activated at Terry’s retirement or in the event of resignation, incapacitation or death.
“The goal was for the organization not to be caught in a crisis time without having plans in place to proceed in an orderly fashion,” said Pearson, who is retired after serving as a college faculty member, dean and president across 40 years. “Many businesses have succession plans in place and that was a good model for TAB to follow.”
Pearson said the board affirmed Rash in her quest to be editor six years ago when naming her executive editor, so she was the obvious choice when it was determined a succession plan should be established whenever and however that transition is triggered.
“Jennifer Rash is an exceptional writer and has demonstrated tremendous capacity as the executive editor,” Pearson said. “We are very fortunate to have someone with Jennifer’s skills and talents to name as editor-elect for The Alabama Baptist.
“Jennifer has big shoes to fill as Dr. Terry has been a superb editor and provided excellent leadership to the staff and the board of directors for many years,” Pearson said. “She is blessed to be able to work under Dr. Terry’s mentorship as she continues learning the various aspects of the paper’s top position.”
Rash agreed, saying, “To be able to learn so many life lessons, develop my skill set and grow up in general through the ministry communications channel of The Alabama Baptist has indeed been a blessing and a gift. I will always be indebted to Bob Terry for the investment and confidence placed in me to grow into the person capable of the position.
“And to have the unanimous support of TAB’s board of directors provides the strength and foundation I need to continue developing into the leader I hope will make them proud.”
Along with her responsibilities with TAB, Rash currently serves as vice president for Associated Church Press and is a past president of the Baptist Communicators Association. She blogs at rashionalthoughts.com and also serves as an instructor for the online ministry communication certificate through Samford University’s Ministry Training Institute in Birmingham.
An honors graduate from the University of Alabama with a bachelor of arts in journalism, Rash earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Samford’s Beeson Divinity School. She grew up at Mountain View Baptist Church in Phil Campbell and served two years on the mission field with the International Mission Board after college. She and her husband Jason have been married 19 years and are members of NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by The Alabama Baptist, newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.)