One of the UK’s oldest religious newspapers – The Baptist Times – is to close at the end of the year.
The weekly title, which launched in 1855, has a staff of three full-time journalists and a circulation of 5,000 copies a week.
Chairman of the board of directors of the newspaper Bill Johnston said: ‘Due to falling circulation and difficulties of selling advertising space, the company has increasingly had to depend on a subsidy from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, a situation which has existed for a number of years.
‘In July this year the Trustees of the Baptist Union of Great Britain decided that financial support for the paper would cease next spring. The directors have considered a number of business options for the paper but with profound regret now conclude that it must close.
‘The board also wishes to place on record its profound gratitude for the efforts of The Baptist Times’ staff for their hard work and expertise in producing a weekly publication which is greatly appreciated by its readership and widely respected in the Christian publishing world.
‘It also wishes to record its gratitude to the loyal subscribers, church agents and others who have year after year purchased and promoted the paper.’
Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: ‘The Baptist Times has occupied a huge place in the life of our Union and its passing will be a matter of sadness to thousands of people. It was not only valued by Baptists in this country but also by many of our ecumenical and international partners, who often tell me of how much they appreciate it.’
‘I want to place on record our deep gratitude as a denomination to the editors and staff who have served us with huge ability and devotion, and to The Baptist Times Directors who have supported them.’
The Baptist Times will live on as a website. Baptist Times editor Mark Woods said: ‘It has been a great privilege to serve as editor of The Baptist Times, and I would like to pay tribute to the talented and dedicated colleagues with whom I have worked over the years.
‘However, we have not been immune to the commercial pressures on newspapers in general or to the effect of wider issues in church life.
‘We accept our closure with sadness, but appreciate the care given to the decision and the pastoral care shown to the staff.’
Press Gazette understands that the paper’s news editor and sub-editor are going to be re-employed by the Baptist Union.
Circulation of The Baptist Times peaked at around 35,000 in the 1970s.