After a pandemic driven hiatus, United Methodist Communications team members returned to South Africa in early July to support ministry through communications training. The UM News team offers the following details about the trip to give our staff a look at the work accomplished.
The UM News and Global Communication Technology team led training for communicators in the South Africa Provisional Conference July 6-9 in Cape Town. Sixteen participants learned about the essential concepts of storytelling, how to conduct interviews and make powerful photos. They went out into the field to practice what they learned at a United Methodist-supported ministry in Cape Town, and then worked in teams to write an upcoming story for UM News. The trainees also learned about social media platforms, mapping and using United Methodist Communications’ UMConnect messaging platform. One highlight for the group was getting the opportunity to meet and ask questions of Bishop Joaquina Nhanala of the Mozambique Episcopal Area, which includes the South Africa Conference. This was a young group with a lot of energy and we can’t wait to see how these communicators put their training into action! The team members from UMCom who attended the training were Gary Henderson, Tafadzwa Mudambanuki, Chilima Karima, Matt Crum, Mike DuBose and Julie Dwyer. Though unable to travel, Ashley Gish supported the team remotely.
Some members of the team then went on to Harare, Zimbabwe, to join Tim Tanton and Isaac Broune in leading similar training for communicators in the Zimbabwe West Conference. Isaac, Tim, Chilima Karima and Tafadzwa trained about 20 district and conference communicators and leaders July 13-16. The group covered a similar curriculum as the workshop in Cape Town, with one difference being an emphasis on web development. Two groups of trainees did field trips to schools in the Harare area to report on The United Methodist Church’s new emphasis on urban education. The team also had a press conference with Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, who answered questions on a wide range of topics. Bishop Nhiwatiwa also spoke later at a cultural dinner on the importance of communications and the relationship with United Methodist Communications. The training provided good momentum for a workshop that is being planned for December for communicators in the Zimbabwe East Conference.
The trip allowed us as an agency to carry out our mission of communicating all the good we can, in all the ways we can, to all the people we can, in all the places we can. These trainings also lean into who we are as an agency of truth-seekers and storytellers who lead the global church in using the power of communication to enhance ministry and reflect the church to the world.