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McBride retires after 10 years as editor

OKLAHOMA CITY — Bailey McBride, editor of The Christian Chronicle for 10 years, has announced his retirement from that position. McBride, 72, will keep writing his monthly column and assume the honorary title of editor emeritus, said Lynn McMillon, Chronicle president and CEO. “Bailey’s column has been one of this newspaper’s most popular features for 25 years, and we are thrilled that he has agreed to keep writing it,” McMillon said. “While his decision to retire disappoints us, we understand his desire to spend more time teaching, shepherding and cheering at his grandchildren’s ball games.” An English professor, McBride directs the honors program at Oklahoma Christian University, where he has served in faculty and administrative positions for 42 years. An elder at the Memorial Road church, he and his wife, Joyce, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. While he never planned to become an editor, McBride said he always has loved newspapers. “Serving in this role has been a great 10 years, and I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. McMillon said that an announcement on the future editor would be forthcoming.

A Conversation with Bailey McBride

McBRIDE, 72, editor, professor and shepherd, ponders life after deadlinesand focuses on ‘eternal truths.’

OKLAHOMA CITY Now, please don’t get the wrong idea.

Bailey McBride is retiring as editor of
TheChristian Chronicle. But he has no plans to ride off into the sunset.
For those of you who immediately openedup the back page first to read McBride’s “Insight” column: Rest easy knowingthat he intends to keep writing it “as long as the Editorial Council andreaders want me to.”
That news delighted the EditorialCouncil, which consists of
Chroniclepresident and CEO Lynn McMillon, managing editor Bobby Ross Jr., assistant managing editor Erik Tryggestad, senioreditor Scott LaMascus, associate online editor Tamie Ross and associate editor Joy McMillon.
In his new role as editor emeritus,McBride will still have an open invitation to attend any and all councilmeetings. The only difference: His retirement means he won’t be expected tobe there.
An English professor, McBride will keepteaching at Oklahoma Christian University,where he has served in faculty and administrative positions for 42 years. He also plans to focus more on hisshepherding duties at the 2,500-member Memorial Road church in Oklahoma City.
“I love the church and I want to bemore engaged in the congregation where I am an elder,” he told the EditorialCouncil. “I want to focus on serving more people who have spiritual needs.”
And he plans to devote more time to hisfamily: Joyce, his wife of 50 years; their children, Melissa and Phil Roe inFranklin, Tenn., Lynette and Pat Brown in Oklahoma City, and Karen and Michael McBride in Edmond, Okla.;and their eight grandchildren. “I am going to improve my skills as husband,father and grandfather,” he said.

Youwrote your first newspaper story at age 12, the same year you were baptized.How did that come about?

I lived in San Lorenzo, Calif.,and my dog, Tuto, was run over. The newspaper asked me to do a story about itto get people to drive more carefully through the neighborhoods. The editorsliked my story so much that I began doing a column every three weeks aboutsomething connected with the community.

Soyou were destined from an early age to become an editor?

I enjoyed writing the column and thenotoriety of it, but I never wanted to be an editor.

AfterOklahomaChristian assumed ownership of the Chroniclein 1981, you served as managing editor. What do you remember about those earlyyears?

Many all-nighters. Everything about theChronicle had to be squeezed in after5 p.m. because it was the only time the people involved in it could work on ittogether. Most news was taken from church bulletins or friends who would helpby calling us with information.

Whywere you willing to devote so much time to the Chronicle when you obviously hadenough other responsibilitiesto keep you busy?

I have always believed that communitiesare never any better than their best newspapers. I felt that when the Chroniclewas a strong and vibrant news source, then the church had a greater sense ofunity. We needed a communication link that focuses on the positive angles ofthe brotherhood, sees the problems and helps address them. I thought theChronicle could make a difference in the church, and in some ways, I think ithas.

Howhave you seen the Chronicle develop as a newspaper in your 25 years ofassociation with it?

It began with a group of dedicatedamateurs. At different times we tried to get people who had strong journalisticinstincts to come, and we just kind of bumbled along until Joy McMillon came onboard and then brought Scott LaMascus on board. The two of them had more journalistictraining than anyone else who worked on the paper.

The paper began to develop connectionswith people who were making things happen in the church. Bulletins were stillimportant, but investigation and reporting were serious activities for the staff.The Chronicle developed a broader vision for the church around the world.

You’vewritten your column every month for 25 years. That’s a long time.

More people know me than I ever reachedas a college professor and administrator. In the early days, the column wascalled “Church Growth.” I had the great opportunity to learn about successes ofchurches that were growing and show how others might model that growth.

Later, Lindy Adams persuaded me to finda more generic title. So the name became “Insight.” That broad approach allowedme to be transparent about my own doubt and faith as well as many issues ofconcern to spiritually minded people.

Howhave you seen Churches of Christ change these past 25 years?
The church in 1981 was relativelyunified, homogenous. A sense of being a fellowship of believers who careddeeply about each other prevailed. Through the decade of the ’90s, thingschanged drastically.
Throughout the Christian world, agreater emphasis was placed on studying and knowing the Bible. As our neighborsand friends began this study, we realized our fellowship may have set out torestore first century Christianity, but we had only done it partially,establishing new human guidelines that are unwritten and unspoken.
As the church re-examined foundationsand concepts of Christ’s teachings, changes took place in the fellowship. Somecongregations began emphasizing the distinctive qualities of churches, andothers began seeking to understand and teach the importance of spiritualformation. For some it was what we do when we go to church. For others it wasnot just a matter of going to church, but forming a spiritual life that ismodeled after Jesus.
The change in emphasis was viewed byone group as abandoning the “old paths,” so all through the ’90s we had atremendous — not a parting of ways — but a divergence of focus and goals.

Since 2000, the church has begun torecognize that there are some fundamental truths of Christianity that areshared by a lot more people than those that we go to church with. While it maylook divisive, I think it has been a healthy progression because people havehad to think through what they believe.

Insome ways, there appears to be a widening gap between those who might beconsidered the left and right wings of the Churches of Christ. Are youoptimistic or pessimistic about the future outlook?

I am optimistic about our fellowship.My analogy is my marriage. My wife is a morning person, and I am a nightperson. When we got married, we lived on two hours of sleep because at nightshe stayed up with me and I got up with her in the morning, but we figured outthat wasn’t the main issue of our lives.

We found out how to live with that anda host of other differences in personality, realizing we are different peoplewith different tastes. We love each other, and we have more important ties thanthose differences. I am in hopes that churches will have the maturity torecognize that diversity is strength. If we will respect that diversity as longas it doesn’t violate Scripture, then we have a bright future; if we squabbleover personal preferences and judgments, then we won’t have an optimisticfuture.

Whyretire from the Chronicle?

I have loved the Chronicle deeply.

However, life has different seasons. Iam in a season when I want to think and write more about eternal truths. I amnot fond of deadlines. And I am weary of all the dissonance that exists in thechurch. I am longing for a kind of wilderness experience where I really communewith my God.

This is the time to retire because the Chronicle is in amazingly competenthands. We have people who love God and his Kingdom, and they are trained toseek out and report significant stories.

June 1, 2006

Filed under: Staff Reports Top Stories

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