Wingfield leaves Standard, joins Dallas church staff : Friday, Nov 21, 2003
November 21 2003 by Ken Camp

Wingfield leaves Standard, joins Dallas church staff : Friday, Nov 21, 2003
Friday, Nov 21, 2003

Wingfield leaves Standard, joins Dallas church staff

By Ken Camp
Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS, Texas - Mark Wingfield, managing editor of the Baptist Standard, is leaving denominational journalism after 21 years to join the staff at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas.

At a called church conference Nov. 19, the Dallas congregation overwhelmingly voted to call Wingfield as associate pastor with specific responsibilities in communications, outreach and stewardship education. He will assume the new post Jan. 1.

Wingfield, 41, joined Wilshire Baptist five years ago, when he came to the Baptist Standard.

"I am passionate about our church and its vision, mission and ministry," he said. "To be able to invest my full attention on advancing the work of the church is invigorating and challenging."

Rather than retreating from action, Wingfield said he sees the move to a church staff as putting him at the heart of Baptist life. "The reality is that the local church is the center of action for Baptist ministry. And I know of no other church that presents a better place to serve than Wilshire," he said.

"In some ways, I feel I am becoming part of a national trend that I have written about. More churches are calling out staff leadership from among their members. The proposal put together by our pastor and personnel committee is visionary, and I'm thrilled to be part of Wilshire's long tradition of stepping out on faith to fulfill the church's mission in creative ways."

Wingfield is vice chair of deacons, an adult Sunday school teacher, and a member of the strategic planning council at Wilshire, a congregation affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

"The opportunity to call Mark to our church staff gives us someone of immense competence and confidence," said George Mason, pastor of the church. "His admirable courage in speaking for and to Baptists in the wider church assures us of his clarity of vision and conviction.

"His commitment to Wilshire's mission has been evident in everything he has done. I can't wait to see what God will do among us with the addition of Mark to our team."

The new associate pastor's position is part of a transition plan as Wilshire's senior associate pastor, Preston Bright, moves toward retirement in two years.

Wingfield has been recognized by his peers as one of the top investigative, enterprising reporters in Christian journalism. Over the past two decades, he reported on tumultuous changes at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, conflict at Baylor University, and the often divergent paths taken by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention.

As managing editor of the Baptist Standard, Wingfield made the paper "sparkle," according to Editor Marv Knox. "Mark is one of the most insightful, thorough, fair and committed journalists Baptists ever produced. His insatiable curiosity, tenacity for truth and passion for people have shaped his remarkable ministry for more than two decades. Plus, his impeccable eye for design and ear for the ever-changing conversation of faith have made the Standard fun to read" he said.

Even so, to those who know him best, Wingfield's decision to join the Wilshire staff seemed a logical step, Knox observed.

"He has always been one of the finest, hardest-working church members anywhere. His training in ministry, experience in Baptist life and investment in the ministry of the church have shaped him for this new opportunity at Wilshire. While his departure saddens all of us who work with him, we're also excited for Mark and for his wonderful church," he said.

Before coming to the Baptist Standard, Wingfield was editor of the Kentucky Baptist Western Recorder, where he earlier served as news director.

Previously, he worked as associate director of news and information for the Southern Baptist Convention Home Mission Board and as director of news and information with Southwestern Seminary.

Wingfield has been a prolific contributor to the Associated Baptist Press (ABP) independent news service, which recently made him the inaugural recipient of the ABP Writer's Award.

"We knew the first award had to go to Mark," said ABP editor Greg Warner. "He has epitomized quality, truthful Baptist journalism for so long, and ABP and its readers were most often the beneficiaries of his talent."

Warner went on to say that Wingfield's move from denominational journalism to a church staff position "testifies to why Christian journalists do what we do - because we believe in God's people as firmly as we believe in God's truth."

He is a past president of the Baptist Communicators Association and has been a frequent winner in its Wilmer C. Fields Awards Competition, including the organization's top writing honor, the Frank Burkhalter Award. He also received a Katy Award from the Dallas Press Club.

Wingfield earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico and attended Southwestern Seminary. He and his wife, Alison, have 11-year-old twin sons, Luke and Garrett.

Concerning the Baptist Standard's future, Knox noted, "Since this move so obviously clarifies God's will for Mark Wingfield and Wilshire Baptist Church, I'm confident it's also God's will for the Standard. We will seek his successor and maintain the paper's commitment to inform, inspire, equip and empower Texas Baptists to follow Jesus Christ and expand God's kingdom."
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