Grief and joy bookended 2017 for me and the Baptist Center for Ethics /

The first quarter of the year saw our staff building on the energy from the fall 2016 release of “The Disturbances” documentary DVD and companion book.

Fifteen screenings in six states took place over the last four months of 2016, while the first two months of 2017 saw eight more screenings of “The Disturbances” in five states.

Eight more screenings would follow over the next 10 months, and made the film available for online streaming rental in September 2017 via Vimeo on Demand.

March 5 and the months to follow were filled with grief for our organization when founder and executive director, Robert Parham, died after a prolonged illness.

He was remembered by friends and colleagues as an “entrepreneurial ethicist” who “insisted the ministry always do the right thing in the right way, which wasn’t always the easiest or most convenient.”

A drop-in reception honoring Parham was held on June 29 during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s general assembly in Atlanta.

A slideshow highlighting his life, work and legacy that was displayed during the reception can be viewed here. Photos from this event, and a June 29 workshop focused on “The Disturbances,” are available here.

BCE’s annual board meeting – which was already in place for March 16-17 at the national WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama – offered a time for board members and staff to gather to grieve Parham’s death, to celebrate his life and work and to reaffirm commitment to the organization’s mission.

“Robert’s life and witness inspired us all to join him in the work of challenging people of faith to advance the common good. We look forward to strengthening and building upon this legacy through BCE’s various initiatives,” BCE’s directors said in a March 20 press release. “We believe our country and world need BCE now more than ever.”

Bill and Audrey Cowley,’s “Baptists of the Year” for 2016, were honored at a dinner event on March 16. Photos from the board meeting and the Baptists of the Year dinner are available here.

Though grieving the loss of our friend and colleague, our staff remained engaged and committed to providing the quality, consistent and timely content our readers have come to expect from BCE /

In 2017, we published 521 columns written by 219 unique contributors from 28 U.S. states (including D.C.) and 16 nations, as well as 102 news articles, 47 #ProfilesInGoodwill, six #EthicsDailyLocal profiles and four photo news stories.

Included in these numbers are 22 series focused on annual observances (such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Genocide Awareness Month, World Malaria Day, Father’s Day and Human Rights Day) as well as global challenges and church trends (such as human trafficking, predatory lending, missions and bivocational ministry).

Media producer Cliff Vaughn published 15 new videos to’s Vimeo channel. These included an interview with Michael Cheuk following the Aug. 12 violence in Charlottesville and with Elijah Brown following his approval as the general secretary-elect of the Baptist World Alliance.

Vaughn also produced, in conjunction with Baptist News Global Executive Director David Wilkinson, a video production honoring Babs Baugh and the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation for their generosity in supporting the Baptist work and witness.

These figures represent some of’s 2017 initiatives, all of which sought to provide a global perspective on both local and global events written by goodwill people of faith around the world.

October brought joy and excitement, as the search process launched at the mid-March board meeting culminated in an Oct. 30 announcement of R. Mitch Randall as BCE’s new executive director.

While officially becoming the second head of the organization on Monday, Jan. 1, he has been active and regularly engaged with staff and constituents throughout November and December.

Randall produced several video greetings and dreamed up the November #EthicsDailyLocal initiative.

He also wrote seven editorials, including one on theological malpractice and sexual abuse, and another on the “Moore Effect” and gospel credibility – continuing Parham’s longtime practice of addressing real issues in real time.

I don’t believe we ever truly “get over” our losses. Grief remains, and I will continue to miss my friend and boss. Yet, I am also filled with joy and excitement about the next chapter in BCE’s /’s history with Randall at the helm.

Our staff is committed to challenging people of faith to advance the common good by providing ethics resources that are timely, Bible-based and Christ-centered and that are designed to inform, inspire and empower our readers to pursue justice in the world.

I’m grateful for your continued support of our work, and I hope you’ll consider making a year-end donation to help us end 2017 on a high note, poised for a strong and vibrant 2018.

Zach Dawes is the managing editor for You can follow him on Twitter @ZachDawes_Jr.

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