Obituary: Walker Knight

Walker Knight, a longtime Baptist journalist, died Dec. 1. He was 95.

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Walker Knight, a longtime Baptist journalist, died Dec. 1. He was 95. Knight earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University. He was editor of a U.S. Air Force publication and a rural Texas weekly newspaper—and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dale—before he joined the Baptist Standard staff in 1950. During his time as associate editor of the Standard in the 1950s, its circulation grew to 355,000. He was editor of Home Missions magazine, later Missions/USA, at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Home Mission Board from 1959 to 1983. In that role, Knight gained a reputation for publishing not only engaging missions features, but also articles that challenged entrenched attitudes about race. He became the subject of controversy in January 1967, when a cover story on black pastor and civil rights activist William Holmes Borders provoked hundreds of readers to cancel their subscriptions. But Arthur Rutledge, chief executive at the Home Mission Board, stood by Knight, and the magazine went on to win numerous awards. “Home Mission magazine was perhaps the most effective communication piece that caused Southern Baptists to become more open and sensitive to racial reconciliation,” Emmanuel McCall, an African American minister who served on the Home Mission Board staff from 1968 to 1991, wrote in his 2007 book, When All God’s Children Get Together: A Memoir of Baptists and Race. Knight retired early and launched SBC Today in 1983 as a national newspaper free from denominational control. The newspaper was renamed Baptists Today in 1991 and eventually became Nurturing Faith. Knight was a member of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., for 60 years. He was preceded in death by his wife Nell. He is survived by children Walker Leigh Knight Jr. of Denver, Colo.; Kenneth Knight of Cleveland, Ga.; Nelda Coats of Oriental, N.C.; and Jill Knight of Arden, N.C.; four grandchildren; and siblings Cooksey Bennett Knight of Henderson, Ky.; Mary Ruth Gardner of Bonita Springs, Fla.; Hiram Knight of Zion, Ky.; Jane Mahler of Warner Robins, Ga.; and James Knight of Henderson, Ky.

 

 




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