Twelve years ago next week, I began the riskiest and most rewarding journey of my vocational life. I resigned a paying position to start an organization with virtually no funds among a conflicted people who felt dispossessed, lacked a sense of trust and read from different road maps.
We sold our house, moved into a small condominium and walked into a desert of hardship. About the only constant was uncertainty.
Fundamentalists predicted failure for the Baptist Center for Ethics. Rank and file moderates supported BCE’s formation. A few moderates were unsupportive. An even smaller number engaged in organizational sabotage, until organizational success made their efforts futile.
In the earliest years, BCE struggled from month to month, year to year. A retiring insurance agent provided initial office space. He also donated a desk and chairs. A few years later, St. Thomas Hospital, a Nashville-area Catholic medical center, gave us old metal desks and chairs out of its warehouse. That furniture is still being used, as is a second-hand phone system. We were building an organization and constituency without straw, to borrow a biblical image.
We meticulously built a database from scratch and did irregular mailings. At first, my young children and wife helped to affix mailing labels to conference fliers and to sort mailings by zip code, sitting at a blue play table.
With hindsight, I see God’s blessing in the years that the locust ate. The hardships made me tougher—more insightful, more focused, more determined, more realistic, more grateful. The difficulties forced BCE to become more entrepreneurial and forged a clearly defined board of directors.
Had we not walked through the difficult years, we would not be where we are today. And we would not be where we are today without the hand of providence and your gracious support.
By several measures, BCE today is one of the most successful organizations to come out of the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention:
- Our Web site, EthicsDaily.com, is an information destination for all kinds of Baptists from around the world, as well as mainline Christians and people of other religious traditions.
- Our online curriculum is being used in churches from the Southern Baptist traditional to those affiliated with American Baptist Churches-USA, as well as in Baptist churches in Australia and Canada.
- Our credibility is evidenced by our interaction with the media—both Christian publications and daily newspapers. EthicsDaily.com is even being cited as a source in press conferences!
- Our staff is the leanest and most energetic in Baptist life. We have three full-time and two-part time staff members. Plus we have some 25 of the brightest columnists in Baptist life, all of whom contribute to EthicsDaily.com as an extension of their ministry. We also have seven of the best Baptist preachers posting their sermons on our Web site.
Day in and day out, we do more to inform and to shape the opinion of thoughtful Baptists than any other organization. Pound for pound, we provide churches and church leaders a better return on their investment of mission gifts than any other entity.
We hope you have a sense of satisfaction in what we accomplish together.
But we do need your help again. Specifically, we need financial support from the readers of EthicsDaily.com.
A recent decision has placed us in a situation where we need to raise additional support. We anticipate a $15,000 loss of funding this year from one source alone. Additionally, individual donations have fallen behind the 2001 giving level. That means we must turn directly to our readers and ask for your support.
As you may well know, we only ask for contributions when contributions are needed.
If you would like to make a contribution, you may do so online. Click on the link below and make a donation with your credit card. Know that your contributions will be kept confidential and are tax exempt.
You have been with us in the lean times and the good times. Help us again in these in-between times.
Baptist Center for Ethics
Click here to make an online donation.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.