Retired Baptist Standard Editor Toby Druin chronicled the period of Southern Baptist life in the late 20th century now known as the “conservative resurgence.”
By Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press presented its Greg Warner Lifetime Achievement Award in Religious Journalism June 21 to Toby Druin, retired associate editor and editor of Baptist state newspapers in North Carolina and Texas, who chronicled the historic era in Southern Baptist life now remembered as the “conservative resurgence.”
“The main reason Toby deserves a lifetime achievement award is because he was an exceptional war correspondent,” said Marv Knox, an ABP director and Druin’s successor as editor of the Baptist Standard.
“That may sound harsh to some of you in 2012, but Toby stands with Dan Martin as the top chroniclers of the conflict that divided the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 20th century,” Knox said. Martin, former news editor of Baptist Press, was one of two journalists fired in a censorship controversy that prompted Baptist state paper editors to form Associated Baptist Press in 1990.
Since top leaders of the movement to rid the nation’s second-largest faith group of so-called “liberalism” hailed from Texas, Knox said “a disproportionate number of SBC battle reports bore Texas datelines.” While the more conservative wing won control of the national convention, Knox said information and knowledge provided by Druin helped moderates in Texas to resist similar changes in the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
“Toby deserves acclaim tonight because he elevated the craft of denominational journalism,” Knox said. “He practiced high-quality reporting and news writing and produced bountiful models of the craft. He also encouraged and mentored at least two generations of Baptist journalists who wanted to be like him. The strength of his articles and the power of his character provided both encouragement and ground cover for other journalists to ‘go and do likewise.’”
Druin, a one-time Baltimore Orioles catcher prospect whose career was cut short by an arm injury, worked at five Texas newspapers before becoming a news writer at Baylor University. He then worked as associate editor of the Biblical Recorder, the North Carolina Baptist newspaper. From there he moved to the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, working as editor of news services, before returning to Texas to become associate editor of the Baptist Standard.
He was the first associate editor to be elected president of the Association of Baptist State Papers and capped his career as editor of the Baptist Standard. Since retirement he has edited the Cowboy Times, a newspaper for Western-themed niche churches in Texas and across the United States.
“I am not sure that I have ever been a journalist, whatever that is,” Druin said, accepting the award. “I think of myself as a reporter and sometimes and editor, but mainly I have just been always the guy who got the paper out. I’ve done it daily, weekly, monthly, semi-monthly, for 56 years. And for 46 of those I’ve done it for Baptists. Regardless of the frequency of the publication, every time the presses have rolled, a miracle has happened. So in that sense I guess I’ve been a miracle worker, too.”
Druin, 77, is third recipient of the award established in 2009 and named after the first permanent employee of ABP, who took early disability retirement in 2008 due to chronic health issues.
Druin accepted the honor at a Friends of ABP Texas barbecue dinner at the new Pastoral Building of St. Patrick Cathedral near the Fort Worth Convention Center, site of the June 21-22 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly.
The award program also included recognition of 2012 “Church Champions,” congregations that have stepped forward to support a free press for Baptists, and formal launch of the Friends of ABP, a new annual fund organization to support core operations of the donor-supported, nonprofit Baptist media outlet.