History of Central Region Life
A New Chapter Begins

By Martha Robbins, editor

The idea of publishing a monthly newspaper to reach every Baptist home in Kansas did not originate in 1904. As early as the 1860’s, a Committee of Inquiry made up of Brethern I. S. Kalloch, R. C. Brant and Benjamin Luce had discussed the “practicability of the enterprise” and possible printing of a state newspaper in Leavenworth City.

The first issue on record at the Kansas Historical Society as Vol. 1, No. 1, The Kansas Baptist, was published in September, 1882, and was printed in Clay Center. The editor, Rev. L. H. Holt, wrote a detailed introduction to the new publication which appeared in the Clay Center Baptist, August 1882.

“When the editor [L. H. Holt] of the above named paper [Clay Center Baptist] brought out the first number, several good friends feared that he would suffer financial loss before the year ended. He is happy to inform all such that all bills have been paid without drawing on the editor’s bank account. The little paper has found its way, by the aid of Uncle Sam’s guides, to fifteen States and Territories, and has received many words of commendation. Several thousand people have read its pages from month to month; and have, we trust, received benefit. It has visited many homes where no other religious paper ever appeared. Several brethren have urged that it ought to be enlarged and be made a State paper, instead of a local church paper. Pastors and brethren all over the State have been advised with during the past two months, and the encouragement has been so universal and hearty that the editor of this paper has decided to bring out a new paper as early in September as arrangements can be completed. The paper will be called, The Kansas Baptist; and as the name indicates, it will be devoted to the interests of the Baptist denomination in this State - Missions, Education, etc.” — Vol. 1 No. 11, Clay Center Baptist, August, 1882

In his first issue of The Kansas Baptist, Rev. Holt wrote, “[I am] a pastor with you, in a section of work to be done and must have the hearty cooperation of all if the paper is made to do all the good it ought and not be too heavy a burden upon one. Every pastor is invited to contribute. Of course, the items and articles must be brief. Three hundred pastors cannot have a column each, every month; and if we could, the people would not read them. Whatever you have to say, boil it down!”

The 11” X 17” front page of that early edition was devoted to the 1882 Annual Meeting sermon entitled, “Stewardship,” preached by Rev. A. L. Vail at Ottawa University. That publication is on file through June, 1884.

There were more attempts at a State newspaper, all short lived. Then, in March, 1904, E. B. Meredith, secretary of the Kansas Baptist Convention, published the last Vol. 1, No. 1, of The Kansas Baptist. It was printed in Ottawa, Kan. With a smaller format of 6” X 9,” articles were “boiled down” and formal portraits were commonly used. An article on the reconstruction of Ottawa University’s Administration Building was featured. This time the publication persevered.

In 1979, when the Kansas Baptist Convention name changed to the American Baptist Churches of the Central Region to be inclusive of Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, the newspaper was published with the banner of Central Region Life, the name it still carries today.

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We are about to add a new chapter to the history of Central Region Life. The Communications Vision Team is hard at work creating a digital Central Region Life: Special Edition, a supplement to our monthly newspaper. Articles, chosen from the pages of Central Region Life, will be “boiled down” and spiced up with color photos and links to valuable resources. We hope to make the Special Edition available to current subscribers with internet access.

For this project to become a reality, we will need “the hearty cooperation of all.” Send ideas for feature stories to Editor, ABC/CR, 5833 S.W. 29th St., Topeka, KS 66614; and when renewing your subscription, list an email address. If you do not have internet access, we want to know that, too. It will help us plan for distribution of the Special Edition.