Award-winning Southern Baptist communicator Barbara Denman has announced her retirement as Florida Baptists’ director of communications, effective Aug. 31.
Her retirement comes almost 30 years to the day she accepted the role as Florida Baptists’ director of communications in September 1987.
“Without question, Barbara is a consummate writer and public relations specialist,” said Don Hepburn, who served as Florida Baptists’ public relations director when he brought Denman to join the Florida Baptist Convention staff 30 years ago, saying that Denman “brought expertise, creativity and commitment to the task of telling the missions story of Florida Baptists.”
In her role with the Convention, Denman has directed numerous communications and promotional campaigns, including Florida Baptists’ annual Maguire State Missions Offering and Global Hunger Relief Offering. Through the success of these campaigns, Denman was recognized by the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) nine times with the Arthur S. Davenport Award for exceptional achievement in public relations and development.
“Barbara has gone beyond telling how Florida Baptists gave to a particular offering and has brought to life how these offerings changed individuals — highlighting the people impacted through stories of disaster relief, hunger relief and many other mission endeavors,” said Micah Ferguson, director of strategic initiatives, Florida Baptist Convention.
In the 24 months Ferguson has served alongside Denman, he said he has “seen firsthand her love for God and her desire to help tell the story of how He is at work across Florida Baptist churches.”
Denman’s passion for telling the story of Florida Baptists has had her traversing the Sunshine State multiple times, traveling from large cities to small rural enclaves, often on the frontlines of breaking news, such as covering the heartbreak of hurricanes making landfall and Florida Baptist disaster relief volunteers sharing the hope of God in the storms’ aftermaths.
“Barbara’s approach to writing news or features stories often emphasized the human dimension of the story’s topic and focused upon the spiritual implications for Florida Baptists and their churches. Her warm and personable approach to the communications task has endeared her to pastors, church staff and many Baptists in the pew,” said Hepburn.
Denman also had a front-row seat to tell the story of Florida Baptist inroads into Haiti and Cuba, where revivals are now sweeping the island nations.
“She has been the voice of Convention news, helping keep Florida Baptists informed,” said Ferguson.
Denman’s influence as a Southern Baptist communicator extends beyond Florida as she has served in numerous BCA leadership positions, including president, program vice president (twice), membership vice president (twice), treasurer and newsletter editor.
“Barbara’s depth of experience, wisdom, willingness to serve, commitment to excellence and spiritual faithfulness have encouraged and inspired so many of her communications colleagues throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. She is admired and appreciated for who she is and all she has done to further the message of Christ,” said Margaret Colson, BCA’s executive director.
She also has regularly served on the news coverage team at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Barbara is a quality communicator and person. I’ve known her for many years but have especially enjoyed working with her during my time at Baptist Press. She’s professional, smart and a make-it-happen kind of individual,” said Shawn Hendricks, managing editor, Baptist Press.
Through the years, Denman has invested in other Southern Baptist communicators, mentoring others to fulfill their callings to denominational communications.
From 1995-98, Stella Prather, director of communications, Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries, worked alongside Denman at the Florida Baptist Convention.
“The public relations knowledge and wisdom Barbara imparted upon me has been a great help and support throughout my career. I am convinced that my success is at least in part due to her sincere support and mentorship,” said Prather.
“I’m so thankful that she believed in me. She has been an excellent friend, mentor and a great inspiration for me. She inspired me to pursue my goals with hard work and dedication!” she said.
Before coming to Florida, Denman, a South Carolina native, served Southern Baptists in other communications roles, including stints at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board), altogether totaling a noteworthy 40 years in denominational service.
Denman holds degrees from University of South Carolina (BA in Journalism) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MRE) along with APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America.
by staff, Florida Baptist Convention, June 7, 2017