By Sharon Mager
COLUMBIA, Md.— Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) director of communications, resigned effective Sept. 14. She is transitioning to The Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, dba the Baptist Resource Network, where she will assume the same role, beginning Sept. 17.
Baker, who has lived in Reading, Pa., for the past three years, has ministered with the BCM/D for over 15 years starting as a freelance writer, advancing to a national correspondent, then to the editor of BaptistLIFE before assuming her role as director of communications.
At the Sept. 4 BCM/D General Mission Board (GMB) meeting, GMB President Curtis Hill expressed gratitude to Baker for her ministry with BaptistLIFE as well as all of the “behind the scenes” work with annual meeting and a multitude of other services.
“Shannon, we will miss you, and we love you and thank you for your work,” Hill said. “Thank you for making us better in so many ways,” he said. Board members gave her a standing ovation.
BCM/D staff members enjoyed a luncheon in Baker’s honor at Maggiano’s in Columbia, sharing remembrances and godly well-wishes.
Executive Director Kevin Smith thanked Baker for her work, her faithfulness, and her cooperative spirit.
“Sister Shannon has always been so responsive and team-focused,” Smith said. “Even this week, as she prepares to transition, she has been so helpful to our new creative director, who will be joining our staff next week.” (See related story forthcoming.)
Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle praised Baker’s consistency in her work ethic, her attitude, and her “glowing personality.”
“Shannon, you have always been such a source of encouragement for me, a source of strength,” Stolle said. “’Penn/South Jersey is getting an amazing person, a godly woman, an extremely gifted writer and photographer, and just a servant who loves Jesus.”
Baker, who previously was the director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, began her ministry at BCM/D in 2003, when she and her husband Larry arrived in Baltimore as church planters.
It was the year before Facebook was founded, and just six years after the World Wide Web became publicly available. The country was in the midst of a digital revolution, and with her skill and enthusiasm, Baker was able to help usher BaptistLIFE and BCM/D communications into a whole new era.
Moving BaptistLIFE from a tabloid newspaper to a magazine format was an idea that Baker championed. The new magazine, she said, was “friendlier” and gave the stories a longer shelf life. From there, she oversaw the transition to an online version and helped develop the BCM/D website.
“That gave us the capability of uploading every week, as well as on demand. It kept stories fresh, and we were able to archive them where people could come back and reread them. We were able to continue conversations through social media interaction,” thus getting the stories directly to church members, she said.
Though her duties included overseeing the magazine administration and production, the website, social media, and a multitude of graphic design work, videography, and photography, Baker’s heart has always been telling the stories of what God is doing in the lives of people.
An award-winning journalist, she has written for Baptist Press and other media outlets and is a Bible curriculum writer and conference and retreat speaker. She has traveled worldwide as a reporter and a short-term missionary to places, such as East Asia, the Middle East, Turkey, Egypt, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico.
A past editor called her “fearless.”
Each trip brought fresh enthusiasm and a more profound passion for reaching the lost.
Asked about her favorite BaptistLIFE memory, Baker did not hesitate to say it was an assignment accompanying an associational mission team to the Middle East. As a woman, mother, and journalist, she knew there could be a danger, but she felt God’s call to go, and obeyed, though she admitted that prior to leaving she had “several dark nights of the soul.”
Baker said the trip was life-changing. “It ended up being one of the most incredible prayer-soaked places I have ever been. It was a powerful experience.”
Another highlight of her years with the BCM/D has been attending the annual meetings. “It’s like a big family reunion,” she said. “I love seeing pastors and their wives, and loving on them.
“There’s such love,” she said. “We are on this mission together, and we really need each other. I have grown more in this job than any role I’ve ever had in my life.”
Iris White, the managing editor of BaptistLIFE, has served with Baker for all of the 15 years. “The Lord has blessed Shannon with many abilities, and I know her desire has always been to do everything with excellence all for His glory. We will really miss her.”
Stolle said, “On behalf of all of us, thank you for 15 incredible years.”
“We love you, sister,” Smith said.