By Cindy Solomon*
Since its inception, United Methodist Communications has produced and published a plethora of products, promotions, news stories, publications, and video and audio productions for clergy, church leaders and other laity. Here are highlights spanning the agency’s history:
Connectional Giving (formerly the Division of Program and Benevolence Interpretation) team members market the United Methodist Church’s connectional giving system, which includes General Conference-approved apportioned funds, Special Sundays with offerings and designated gifts. By increasing visibility and awareness of these connectional ministries, this team has helped the church raise millions of dollars and equipped church leaders to engage congregations in the spiritual discipline of giving. Launched in 2014, www.umcgiving.org offers mission stories, offertory prayers, stories, sermon starters, how-to e-books, and social media posts that local churches can use to inspire their members.
Over the years, team members have produced dramatic film features, documentary films, slides and filmstrips, commercials, television programs, news clips and presentations for websites and YouTube. They also create material for social media sites and Internet downloads as well as webinars and podcasts. Shows included “Catch the Spirit” (1985-93), which highlighted United Methodist-related stories for church and secular audiences, and “News Odyssey/True North” (1996-2001), which focused on religious news stories and experts and transitioned to a news-magazine show. Team members also produce United Methodist Church branding commercials for the current Rethink Church campaign.
First published in 1957 for lay leaders and clergy under the name Methodist Story, Interpreter magazine has undergone several name, format, content and design changes. Its audience has expanded to include active United Methodists. Issues provide ministry and mission information helpful to church leaders and supporting the initiatives of the denomination (Four Areas of Focus and Imagine No Malaria), but also contain reader-generated content and articles supporting readers’ spiritual growth and life as faithful disciples. In addition to the print version, readers may access content via Interpreter Digital (accessible on any mobile device), online and in an e-newsletter.
Latino Communications/el Intérprete
In the past, United Methodist Communications reached the United Methodist Hispanic/Latino community with a bimonthly print magazine titled el Intérprete. The publication will soon become a monthly tabloid newspaper that will be available in print and online versions to first-generation, Spanish/Portuguese-speaking United Methodist adults. It will contain general information about the denomination – social justice, discipleship, education and evangelism – as well as specific features of interest to the United Methodist Hispanic/Latino community, news about Methodist churches in Latin American and global information.
Korean Communications/United Methodists in Service
First published in 1990 under the name United Methodist Family, today’s publication for Korean United Methodists is called United Methodists in Service. In 2014, it went from a bimonthly print magazine to a monthly tabloid newspaper format available in a print version and online. The new format allows for more flexibility in sharing information, ideas and resources with and among Korean United Methodist pastors and lay leaders.
United Methodist Program Calendars
A staple for clergy and church leaders for more than 30 years, United Methodist program calendar formats have included the Pocket Calendar, the Classic Calendar (horizontal), Standard Calendar (vertical), Wall Calendar, Desk Blotter, Notebook Grids and Binder, Electronic Calendar and Reproducible Calendar. Each version features agency contacts/websites, information services, interdenominational services, Revised Common Lectionary readings, liturgical colors, next year’s events, planning/resource checklists, special days, a three-year calendar, the United Methodist giving program and pages for notes.
*Cindy Solomon is a marketing consultant and content writer living in Franklin, Tennessee.