Many Americans had to adjust to a new normal when they were forced to work from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For David Williams, it was nothing new.
For 25 years he has been editor of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist newspaper — from Texas.
Williams’ first stint with the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention was in 1994 when he served as state paper editor and evangelism/stewardship director, before returning to Texas to become pastor of Flower Mound First Baptist Church. He left that position in 2014 to be director of missions for Trinity River Baptist Association in Liberty, Texas, where he continues to serve.
On Jan. 1, 1997, Williams became editor of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist again, this time working remotely from Texas.
“When I left the Minnesota-Wisconsin state convention I thought my opportunity to be part of that small group of state paper editors had forever ended,” Williams remembered. “What a joyful surprise it was when I was asked to resume working remotely from my home in Texas.”
The renewed relationship was made possible by a change he initiated during his first stint as editor — they stopped using a local printer and mailing service and they became a partnership edition of the Kentucky Baptist Western Recorder, which provided layout, printing and mailing at a competitive price. That partnership lasted more than 24 years.
Williams, who earned a master of religious education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, recalled a humorous conversation early in his stint as editor from Texas.
“I had a call from someone … wanting to talk about placing an ad, and he was kind of confused that they put him in touch with me,” Williams recounted. “So, after we talked for a while … he said, ‘Well, now let me get this straight: This is the Minnesota-Wisconsin paper, but it’s published in Texas?’ I said, ‘Oh, no, we’re published in Kentucky.’”
When the independent Western Recorder was moved in January 2019 into the communications department of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and ceased publishing a print edition, that also meant the end of the partnership with Minnesota-Wisconsin. The Arkansas Baptist News came to the rescue and developed an edition for them, but a year later that independent paper also was handed over to its state convention and ceased publication, leaving Minnesota-Wisconsin once again without a publisher.
So the Minnesota-Wisconsin convention’s executive director, Leo Endel, encouraged moving the paper from print to digital. Being a lover of print media, Williams resisted but understood the necessity of the change.
Getting to know you
Williams said the highlight of his time as Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist editor has been the opportunity to get to know the people of the convention.
“Donna Kay [Williams’ wife of 46 years] and I have built many lifelong relationships through the years, especially with state convention staff and directors of missions,” he said of Minnesota-Wisconsin, “but also with pastors, church staff members and other church leaders.”
The feeling is mutual among those who have met the Williams.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know David and Donna Kay through the years and appreciate their heart for ministry and their sweet spirit as individuals and as a couple,” said Jennifer Davis Rash, editor-in-chief of The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper.
Williams is quick to credit the impact Donna Kay has had on his life and ministry.
“She’s everything to me. Without her, I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done.
“It was because of her that I was driven as an agnostic to consider the Bible again and the claims of Christ and became a Christian,” he said. “She’s encouraged me and challenged me to be the man that I am.”
After 40 years in ministry, Williams has no plans to retire anytime soon.
“I enjoy the ministry to which the Lord has called me and intend to continue as long as He allows.”