BAPTIST SUNDAY SCHOOL COMMITTEE
A Brief History
In 1903 the Baptist Publishing Company was founded by Ben M. Bogard. For over a year he wrote the literature and supplied the money to support the business. Then G. S. Anderson was accepted as partner and half owner. He proceeded to write most of the literature for the next several years. Eventually W. M. Webb and M. P. Matheny became involved in the business along with the help of a few other brethren.
It was determined in 1915 that it would be in the best interests of the publishing business for it to be turned over to the General Association. Terms of the transfer were arranged with Bogard and Matheny to donate their interest of the business. Webb was already out of the business by now and Anderson was to be paid $6,000 for his share. The Missionary Committee of the General Association elected a Sunday School Committee that consisted of nine brethren to oversee the work, much like it is today. In 1922 it was recorded that sales had increased to the degree that required the printing of eighteen thousand quarterlies.
With the establishing of the American Baptist Association in 1924, another major change occurred in the publishing business. The work truly became the property of the churches that made up the national association. Eventually, the publication of the literature became known as the American Baptist Association series.
By 1929 the business had grown to the point that the management thought it could justify the purchase of a building. A two story structure was located and purchased. The new permanent home of the literature office and the office of missions became 214 East Broad Street. Little did anyone know that the next few years would be a struggle just to survive financially due to the depression. The struggle lasted until 1937 when a change in management occurred. The work began to progress again.
For the next forty-two years the Broad Street location served as the center of operations for the publications activities, but on December 20, 1972, the facilities now located at 4605 N. State Line was dedicated for that use. This forty thousand square foot building now offices these operations.
This aspect of the business was once a small operation compared to the publication of the literature. However, today it is ranked as one of the largest Christian retail outlets in the country. It provides a service to those living in the Texarkana community and to those visiting or traveling through the area. A wide range of Christian related items are offered through the store, such as Bibles, resource books, music and software, just to name a few.
Another function that has been undertaken over the past several years is Home Schooling curriculum. The market in this area has expanded at an enormous rate over the last few years with no end in sight. It provides a resource for many Christian families as they look for alternatives to the public school system.
In 1947 the messengers of the churches voted to produce quarterlies by and for American Baptist Association churches. Coming out of that decision was the Through-the-Bible series which was a ten-year cycle study of the Bible. This series is still used today in the Junior High, Young People and Adult quarterlies.
In 1988 the messengers took another major step in publications when it voted to prepare a complete youth ministry curriculum. In 1989 the pilot program for Discovery was begun for teens and in 1991 Discovery Bible Clubs were formed for children. Discovery continues to provide a well rounded youth program for all ages.
In 1992 the preschool and elementary Sunday School curriculum began taking on a new look. It was totally reformatted to provide quality quarterlies, complete teacher's guides and was placed on a two-year cycle. This restructuring has been completed at these levels. Now the Junior High, Young People and Adult curriculum is being evaluated for improvement.
The Baptist Training Course curriculum is still offered to provide extended Bible study guides for times such as Sunday evenings. Also, a great deal of elective studies are offered for those seeking alternative or topical studies. Elective studies appears to be a desired trend among many churches today.
The newest addition to the literature series is the Devotional Quarterly. It began in 1990 with a unique design that provides three features for the reader. (1) It may be used with all the Through-the-Bible series quarterlies and is great for family devotions. (2) It provides daily readings so individuals can read through the Bible in one year. (3) The home readings provide additional helps and insights to the Sunday School lesson material. This publication continues to grow in sales as its benefits become more known.
In 1995 over 1,300,000 units of curriculum were sold to a market of almost 4,000 churches. This provides a massive outreach to literally hundreds of thousands of people per quarter.
Services to the Churches
Several tracts are produced and kept in stock for use by individuals and churches. At the present time there are forty-five separate tracts kept in print. There are a variety of topics including salvation, Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship, Vacation Bible School, the church, tithings, baptism, the return of Christ, the New Age and moral topics such as homosexuality. Several of these tracts are printed in Spanish to address that need. This resource is basically subsidized through operational funds, though contributions are accepted to help offset the cost of production. The inventory at this time exceeds one million copies.
A cassette tape library is maintained through the promotions office. The library retains more than three thousand tapes with a selection of more than five hundred topics. The cassette library is a ministry of the Baptist Sunday School Committee. User donations are accepted. Tapes can be purchased through this resource.
The Baptist Sunday School Committee assisted with the 1996 Bible Distribution Project for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. This included the making and printing of 120,000 tracts and 7,000 posters free of charge.
Another major contribution of the Baptist Sunday School Committee is the press overruns that are given to missionaries at no cost to them. Some sixteen thousand units of literature are given away every quarter for this purpose.
Also, the maintenance and utilities of the missions office is underwritten by the Baptist Sunday School Committee. This is done without any reimbursements.
The Christian Education Bulletin is a free publication with thirty thousand subscribers on a quarterly basis. Certainly, it is used as a marketing tool, yet is also provides a ministry in itself, supplying instructional tips and other related educational information. This ministry has been provided through the promotions department for many years. This department also attempts to broaden the outreach of the Baptist Sunday School Committee through telephone contacts, promotional mailings and other related activities such as directing and organizing the Discovery Extravaganza, Discovery Camp, Vacation Bible School Publisher's Seminar and literature expositions.
Also, several catalogs are produced and mailed worldwide on an regular basis to encourage telephone orders and mail orders. Some of these are Bible, Book, Cassette, Discovery, Home Schooling, Teacher Resource and Vacation Bible School catalogs.
The editorial staff makes up an integral part of the process in producing literature. For one quarter's supply of literature, speaking of the Sunday School and Baptist Training Course curriculum only, it will require the editing of some 850,000 words. This quantity does not include other publications that are the responsibility of the editorial department, such as tracts, books, Vacation Bible School literature, Discovery and promotional materials. If these were included in the total amount of edited words, it would far exceed one million words per quarter. Each word has to be checked for correct spelling, proper grammar and punctuation. Every Scripture text must be verified and each verse read to guarantee conformity and accuracy.
Each sentence written by the writers must also be checked to make sure it has a Scriptural basis, is presented in chronological order and is written in a way that it can be understood by the reader for whom it is designed. With this in mind, the number of errors printed are minimal compared to the enormous volume of editorial work that is required. Even at that, the editorial staff works diligently to discover and correct all errors. When a question arises, research is conducted to answer the question, even to the point of consultation between several members of the editorial staff to make sure all statements are accurate.
For the editing staff to have work to do, the words must first be written. This is stage one as the Editor in Chief, Discovery Editor and Vacation Bible School Editor prepares outlines for the curriculum. After this important first step the writers themselves take the outlines and produce complete lessons, including ideas for artwork. This presents a tremendous challenge to produce biblically sound material that is prepared in a uniform manner. As one can see, the writers must be choice individuals who are innovative, educated, resourceful and most of all, dedicated to the task.
Both staff and freelance artists are used in delivering quality visuals that meet the needs of Baptist Sunday School Committee publications. From book covers to flannelgraphs and from posters to illustrations, it is all the responsibility of trained and skilled artists to design and construct images that will enhance Bible learning. With the help of state-of-the-art computer equipment these talented individuals can do a job that meets such great demands.
The typesetting area is where many of the pieces of the puzzle start coming together. It is here that the pages are aligned with pictures and artwork to make sure that everything is in its proper place. This can be a time consuming process much like the editing of manuscripts. After this task is completed, special equipment is used to produce negatives, which are required for the printing to take place. It is one more step in producing the end product.
Telephone orders play a major part in the process of providing materials to the public. On average an estimated one hundred orders are received each day. Each must be taken in a timely manner, correctly logged and processed for shipment. On a busy day as many as four hundred calls may be received for the purpose of ordering literature and other supplies.
Printing and Shipping
At peak production the two in-house presses can put out twenty thousand impressions an hour. Both presses work on almost a continual basis throughout the year in an effort to meet the ever increasing demands. Also three thousand units can be bound per hour.
The 20,000 square feet plus of warehouse space is a center of activity as the production process is completed and the shipping process begins. On a peak day 325 parcels will be sent out for delivery.
An overview of the operations and production provided by the Baptist Sunday School Committee has been presented. The goal of the Baptist Sunday School Committee is to offer timely and productive resources that can and will be used in meeting widespread spiritual needs of churches. Several functions of the operations such as the cassette tape library and tracts (just to name two) are provided at or below cost so to make it accessable to more people. Even with this, we continue to be one of the lowest priced (if not the lowest priced) publishers of Christian literature in the United States.