The Christian Index is the official newspaper of the Georgia Baptist Convention. With an average circulation of around 62,000, the paper provides news and information to Georgia Baptists. Its contents include news from Baptist and other religious wire services along with material about the Georgia Baptist Convention and affiliated agencies.
Founded in 1822 in Washington, D.C., by Luther Rice, the “father of Baptist mission work,” the paper claims to be the nation’s oldest religious newspaper still in print. Rice utilized the paper, originally known as the Columbian Star, to raise support for early Baptist mission efforts and Columbian College (later George Washington University). In 1831 editor W. T. Brantley changed the name of the paper to the Christian Index. In 1833 Jesse Mercer, a Baptist minister, purchased the paper and published it in Washington, Georgia. In 1840 Mercer donated the Christian Index to the Georgia Baptist Convention, which moved it to Penfield later that same year. When Mercer Institute (later Mercer University) relocated to Macon in 1857, the Christian Index also moved to Macon. Because of ongoing financial difficulties, the Convention sold the paper around the time of the Civil War (1861-65). At that point the paper moved to Atlanta. It changed owners several times until the convention bought it back in 1920.
The Christian Index boasts a list of editors important both to Georgia and Southern Baptist life. In addition to Rice and Jesse Mercer, the founder of Mercer Institute, the Index’s editors have included Henry Tucker (1866, 1878-82, 1885), later president of the University of Georgia; John Hurt (1947-66), later editor of the Texas Baptist newspaper, the Baptist Standard; Jack Harwell (1966-87), later editor of the moderate Baptist newspaper Baptists Today; and R. Albert Mohler (1989-93), current president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Others have been prominent ministers in the Georgia and the Southern Baptist Conventions.
Since 1996 the paper has been produced at Pinebloom, a historic mansion in Atlanta’s Druid Hills neighborhood.