StoryCentral at the 2018 BCNM Annual Meeting 1

Cutline: During the 2018 BCNM Annual Meeting, volunteers work on writing stories and editing photos in StoryCentral, the Baptist New Mexican’s mobile newsroom. From left to right: Debbie Bizzell, Alexa Tovar, Linda Connell and Karen Pilgreen.

ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - Earlier this year, the Baptist New Mexican relaunched its Volunteer Assignment Writer Program aimed at encouraging and equipping New Mexico Baptists while expanding the organization’s news coverage.

The Volunteer Assignment Writer Program consists of writers from Baptist Convention of New Mexico churches who work closely with BNM staff to cover New Mexico Baptist news. Volunteer assignment writers (VAWs) are “skilled writers” who complete two to three news articles per month, as assigned by BNM Editor Kevin Parker.

The VAWP writers include five members from four New Mexico churches. They are Ellie Aikman, Karen Pilgreen, Alisha Plummer, Curtis Smith and Mary Jane Smith.

Ellie Aikman is a member of Rio Church, Albuquerque. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of New Mexico. She is originally from House. Aikman has written for several newspapers, including her high school newspaper, the Daily Lobo and the Guadalupe County Communicator. As a VAW,  Aikman said she hopes to gain more experience in writing, interviewing and photography. “I seek to have a heart to serve, and if this is where God wants me to serve right now, I am happy to do just that,” she added. The BNM discovered Ellie before she moved to Albuquerque. She was a part-time photographer for the Santa Rosa newspaper. The BNM used one of  her photos for a story it ran about the city.

Karen Pilgreen is a member of First Baptist Church, Ruidoso. She teaches missions, plays piano and leads women’s activities. Pilgreen has contributed to the Baptist New Mexican for several years. She has also written for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources) and WMU’s Acteens organization. She currently writes for WMU’s annual Missions Plan Book and has an article forthcoming in Angels on Earth Magazine. As a VAW, Pilgreen said she wants “to be obedient to God’s leading and give back to Him my ability to write interesting and informative stories and articles.”

Alisha Plummer is a member of Celebration Baptist Church, Rio Rancho, where serves in the women's ministry and as an AWANA leader. Plummer is an emergency department physician assistant. Plummer has written for BNM for several years. She also has experience writing Christian devotionals. As a VAW, Plummer said she hopes "to help out the BNM, get more experience writing, and have opportunities to get to know people involved in ministry throughout New Mexico."

Curtis Smith is a member of Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Albuquerque, where he serves as a Sunday School teacher, small group Bible study facilitator and deacon. He is also involved in the church’s missions ministry. Smith retired from the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service. He is an adjunct faculty member at Wayland Baptist University and teaches continuing education classes at UNM. Smith’s writing experience includes Master Gardener Program material and NMSU Yard and Garden Weekly. As a VAW, Smith said he wants to “serve the Lord and encourage others to serve.”

Mary Jane Smith is a member of Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Albuquerque, where she serves as a children’s Sunday School teacher. She has also served as a costume designer for various Christmas pageants at the church. Outside of church, Smith serves as a leader with Bible Study Fellowship, teaches Bible study and character development through LifeQuest USA, and volunteers with New Mexico Baptist Disaster Relief. She is an ordained chaplain with the International Fellowship of Chaplains (IFoC’s limited-scope chaplaincy ordination is not Southern Baptist ministerial ordination). Smith first began contributing to the Baptist New Mexican in 2016.

In February, Volunteer Assignment Writers assisted BNM staff with New Mexico Evangelism Conference coverage through the team’s StoryCentral mobile newsroom. StoryCentral provides a technology infrastructure to write, edit and publish news stories and images in near-real-time.

To learn more about the Volunteer Assignment Writer Program, contact Joy Pittman (jpittman@bcnm.com) or Kevin Parker (kparker@bcnm.com). 

Daniel Porter is a staff writer with the Baptist New Mexican news journal and GoBNM.com, news and information outlets for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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