Mark Wingfield is executive director and publisher at Baptist News Global. He served previously as associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas for nearly 17 years.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
I remember vividly the first time I encountered 1 John 3:17: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help.”
I was a sophomore in college, had grown up in a Baptist church my entire life and somehow never had been confronted with this radical idea that is the basis of Christian social justice. Although I fail regularly at living out this ideal, it informs my worldview and my writing and my community service.
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
Henry Maxey was the minister of music at my home church in Oklahoma. From him, I absorbed so much about how to approach church work creatively.
Charlotte Weedman (now Lankard) was the college minister at First Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where I attended my freshman and sophomore years. Charlotte almost single-handedly is responsible for helping me see a bigger world of possibilities than I had ever imagined within the narrowness of my religious upbringing.
J.B. Fowler hired me for my first job in Baptist journalism, as his assistant at the Baptist New Mexican in Albuquerque. From him, I learned two important lessons. First, he taught me about the importance of religious liberty that I never had known before. And second, he modeled a kind of generosity that I have sought to emulate ever since.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
Could one be an iPad with a subscription to The New York Times or The Washington Post? Keeping up with major daily news sources is my foremost consistent reading practice. I read the news voraciously.
Second would be a collection of great poetry, always a rich repository of inspiration.
Third would be a hymnal, wherein so much rich theology resides that has stood the test of time.
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
Understanding the extreme threat that fundamentalism in all its forms and expressions presents to humanity. From religious fundamentalism (whether Christian or other) to political and social fundamentalism, we see today an acceleration of those who want to control everyone else in their narrow image while pretending that they are about freedom. This is a threat on every continent, in every nation, among all religions.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
I love attending live theater and live music productions. Both our young adult sons are professional jazz musicians, so we’ve been to a lot of concerts through the years and love all of them. But I especially find theater to be a way of seeing the world in new ways.
I’ve been a swimmer since my college days and still swim about five or six days a week. We love to travel, and I’m a sucker for a good art museum, my favorites being Chicago Art Institute, Getty Center in Los Angeles and Musse de l’Orangerie in Paris.
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
Something like Lucy and Ethel meet Bart Simpson in a church fellowship hall to the horror of a watching congregation.
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
I’m four years out from a spinal cord injury that changed my life. I live every day in the tension of the abject horror of how bad things almost were (and by rights should have been) and how fortunate I am to have as little permanent damage as I do. The journey toward healing, but not cure, continues to be spiritually challenging.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.