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Arkansas editor is communicator of the year

By Linda Green*
Oct. 31, 2007 | CHARLESTON, S.C. (UMNS)


Jane Dennis, an editor for Arkansas United Methodists, thanks the United Methodist Association of Communicators after being named the organization's "communicator of the year."
UMNS photos by Paul Black.

Jane Dennis, editor of the newspaper for Arkansas United Methodists, is the denomination's 2007 "communicator of the year."

Dennis received the award from the United Methodist Association of Communicators during its annual awards banquet Oct. 25. The association is a voluntary professional organization that provides recognition, fellowship and vocational enrichment for the more than 145 professional and volunteer communicators of the church.

During its meeting, the association also inducted three veteran communicators into the organization's Hall of Fame: Lynn DeMichele, former director of communications for the Indiana Area; the Rev. J. Richard Peck, editor of UMMen magazine and the former editor of the Daily Christian Advocate, Newscope and Circuit Rider; and the Rev. Paul Widicus, former director of communications for the Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference.

The communicator of the year award is given to the person who best exemplifies religious communication in The United Methodist Church. Hall of Fame induction recognizes the significant contributions to religion communications of individuals who are either retired or deceased.

Dennis has been involved in communications for the Arkansas Annual Conference for nearly 20 years. She was described by the Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston, director of communications for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, as one of the denomination's most experienced communicators and "a person who has seen it and done it all."

"I am floored," Dennis told the banquet crowd of nearly 100 of her peers. "There are so many people out there who deserve this award, and I am so humbled and thankful to be a part of this group for so long."

Dennis called it a "blessing to get to do what I get to do." She described how she previously covered society and fashion news for the Arkansas Democrat before "asking the Lord, 'Isn't there more to life than this?' It took a while and the Lord introduced me to Arkansas United Methodists." She said she was happy to work daily among an association of people "who prayed, who love God, who use their gifts and graces that God gave them for the church and to serve God."

Hall of Fame

Peck, of Nashville, Tenn., is retired but still works with the churchwide Commission on United Methodist Men. His contributions to United Methodist communications span 42 years, including editing the United Methodist Book of Resolutions and writing articles for Interpreter magazine and United Methodist News Service. His career began in 1965 as an editor of the Council Highlights Newsletter for the Rhode Island Council of Churches. He became communicator for the United Methodist New York Area in 1970 and held assignments with United Methodist Publishing House as well.


David Malloy (left) presents a Hall of Fame plaque to the Rev. Paul Widicus for his
work with the Illinois Great Rivers
Annual Conference.

Widicus ended his career in conference communications in 2002 when he returned to the local church. He is the former director of communications for the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference and was associate director of communications in the former Southern Illinois conference. In 1995, the former Southern and Central Illinois conferences voted to merge, and Widicus played a key role in merging the communications resources of both. He was responsible for the conference's first Web site and its volunteer video production team.

DeMichele was the communications director for Indiana United Methodists for 12 years before retiring in 2002. She served as both vice president and president of the United Methodist Association of Communicators and helped create what is now Paragraph 645 in the Book of Discipline, that says, "In each annual conference there shall be a commission on communications or other structure to provide for these functions and maintain the connectional relationship."

UMAC participants also were introduced Phileas Jusu of Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa and Okitakoyi "Michel" Lundula of Evanston, Ill. — the two recipients of the Helping Hand Scholarship awarded by the association. The two scholarships — one for a representative from the central conferences outside of the United States and one for a young adult within the United States — give recipients an insider look at theological and practical perspectives of communications in the church. The scholarships are named in honor of past UMAC president Dawn Hand, former director of communications for the denomination’s Western North Carolina Annual Conference and UMAC’s 2004 communicator of the year.

Awards

A highlight of the annual meeting is the association's awards presentation to communicators serving the church through the local church, annual conference, jurisdictional conference, denominational agency or church-related institution.


The Rev. Rich Peck talks about his career
as a United Methodist communicator
during his Hall of Fame induction.

The awards are broken down into the following divisions: A. local church, district, agency or organization; B. annual conference, episcopal area or jurisdictional area; C. general church agency or national distribution.

The recipients are:

Print Publications

General excellence — Interpreter magazine — Kathy Noble, Joey Butler, Deborah White, United Methodist Communications.

Newsletter — Best of Division A: The Difference — Kim Kay, Samantha Lang, Keith Tonkel, Shane Stanford, The United Methodist Hour; Best of Division B: The Word — Gwen Green, Mississippi Conference; Best of Division C: Vital Theology — David Reid, Lynn Schwebach.

Newspaper — Best of Division B: UM Connection — Melissa Lauber, Shaun Lane, Kate Thomas, Linda Worthington, Christie Kumar, Baltimore Washington Conference; Certificate of Merit: The Call — Annette Spence, Dion Dykes, Millie Meese, Holston Conference; Best of Division C: The United Methodist Reporter — Robin Russell, Bill Fentum, Mary Jacobs, Kristin Del Mul.

Magazine — Best of Division B: Grace Upon Grace — Cindy Feldman, Iowa Conference; Best of Division C: Interpreter — Kathy Noble, Joey Butler, Deborah White, United Methodist Communications.

Special publications — Best of Division A: North Georgia United Methodist Foundation 2006 Annual Report — Diana Durie, Claude Grizzard, Sharon Griffith, North Georgia

UM Foundation; Best of Division B: Between the Ashes and Alleluias: Lenten Devotional Guide — Gwen Green, Mississippi Conference.

Special section or supplement — Best of Division B: 2007 Mission Opportunities Supplement — Neill Caldwell, Virginia Conference; Best of Division C: Palestine/Israel: 2 people, 3 faiths, Response Magazine, Dana Jones, Barbara Wheeler, Yvette Moore, Paul Jeffrey, Women’s Division.

Internet

General excellence — The Web Connection — Matt Brighton, Shaun Lane, Melissa Lauber, Kate Thomas Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Web site — Best of Division A: The United Methodist Hour — Kim Kay, the Rev. Shane Stanford, the Rev. Keith Tonkel; Best of Division B: The Web Connection — Matt Brighton, Shaun Lane, Melissa Lauber, Kate Thomas.

e-Newsletter — Best of Division A: The United Methodist Hour eNewsletter – Kim Kay, Rev. Shane Stanford, the Rev. Keith Tonkel; Best of Division B: Monday Morning in North Georgia — Sybil Davidson, Jamie Jenkins, North Georgia Conference.

Video/film

General excellence — "Bridges to the Future" campaign video — Lisa Elliot Diehl, Kansas Area.

Video/film costing more than $10,000 — Best of Division B: "Bridges to the Future" campaign video — Lisa Elliot Diehl, Kansas Area.

Video/film costing less than $10,000 — Best of Division A: "Pursuing the Promise" — Kevin Evers, Cathy Bruce, Portland Promise Center; Best of Division B: History of the Virginia Advocate Magazine — Neill Caldwell, Pheath Ram, Linda Rhodes, Debbie Duty, Virginia Conference; Certificate of Merit: North Georgia Conference TV — Tim McDaniel, Sybil Davidson, Erik Gernand, Will Zant, David Scott, North Georgia Conference; Best of Division C: "Nothing But Nets" promotion — Ginny Underwood, Fran Walsh, Harry Leake, United Methodist Communications.

Television/cable

Best of Division A: "Time That Makes the Difference: Peace Lovers or Peace Makers?" — Mike Boucher, Kim Kay, Keith Tonkel, Shane Stanford, The United Methodist Hour.

Audio

General excellence — ConnX Podcast, episodes 2-4 — Matt Brodie.

Radio — Best of Division A: "Time That Make a Difference" — Mike Boucher, Kim Kay, Keith Tonkel, Shane Stanford, The United Methodist Hour.

Podcast or Internet stream — Best of Division B: ConnX podcast, episodes 2-4 — Matt Brodie.

Publicity and advertising

Campaign — Best of Division B: Iowa State Fair Booth: "Let’s Go Camping"— Cindy Feldman, Suzanne Edson, Iowa Conference; Certificate of Merit: Bridges to the Future Capital Campaign Printed Collateral — Lisa Elliot Diehl, Kansas Area; Best of Division C: National Seminar — Emily Miller, Yvette Moore, Barbara Wheeler, Sung-ok Lee, Women’s Division.

Brochure — Best of Division B: 2007 Health Devotional — Sybil Davidson, Ed Tomlinson, David Giles, North Georgia Conference.

Visual design

General excellence — Indonesia Post-Tsunami Collection — Paul Jeffrey, ACT International.

Photography — Best of Division A: Beauty and Strength — Paul Jeffrey, Church of Mary Magdalene; Best of Division B: Zimbabwe Mission Calendar — Matt Brodie, South Carolina Conference; Best of Division C: Indonesia Post-Tsunami Collection — Paul Jeffrey, ACT International; Certificate of Merit: Malaria in Angola — Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service; Certificate of Merit: April 2007 Response cover — Paul Jeffrey, Response magazine.

Artwork — Best of Division B: Hispanic Ministries artwork — Neill Caldwell, Caroline Dougherty, Virginia Conference; Certificate of Merit: 2007 annual conference logo — Tim McDaniel, Leslie Hodges, Bishop Lindsay Davis, Donn Ann Weber, North Georgia Conference; Best of Division C: national seminar logo — Emily Miller, Women’s Division; Certificate of Merit: "Dancing with God" — Barbara Wheeler, Dana Jones, Women’s Division.

Print design — Best of Division B: Discipler Groups: Called – Kate Thomas, Melissa Lauber, Baltimore-Washington Conference; Certificate of Merit: Youth Strike for Christ CD/video/poster — Cindy Feldman, Iowa Conference; Best of Division C: Interpreter magazine — Kathy Noble, Joey Butler, Deborah White, United Methodist Communications.

Internet design (Web sites, e-Newsletters) — Best of Division B: Kansas East Web site — Lisa Elliot Diehl, Kansas East Conference.

Motion Graphics — Best of Division C: Aceh tsunami response flash presentation — Paul Jeffrey, ACT International.

Writing

Individual Story — Best of Division B: "Home rebuilt in memory of fallen Virginia Tech students" — Betty Backstrom, Louisiana Now!, Louisiana Conference; Best of Division C: "Volf: God’s grace surround Virginia Tech shooter" — David W. Reid, Vital Theology.

Series — Best of Division B: "And Who is My Neighbor?" — Neill Caldwell, Virginia United Methodist Advocate; Best of Division C: "9/11 Responding with Faith" — Linda Bloom, United Methodist Communications.

Opinion/Editorial — Best of Division B: "College students a reason for hope" — Paul Black, The Current, Illinois Great Rivers Conference; Best of Division C: "Garrison Keillor disses Ums" — Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter.

Newswriting in Print Publication — Best of Division B: "House on the corner builds power to transform" — Joan LaBarr, North Texas Reporter; Best of Division C: "Volf: God’s grace surround Virginia Tech shooter" — David W. Reid, Vital Theology.

Newswriting for Internet — Best of Division B: "Anti-Malaria campaign scores at NBA All-Star Week" — Stephen J. Hustedt, Desert Southwest Conference; Best of Division C: "United Methodists lead dialogue at Global Health Summit" — Deborah White, United Methodist Communications.

Language communications

Best of Division B: The Desert Connection — Stephen Hustedt, Desert Southwest Conference; Best of Division C: El Intérprete magazine — Amanda Bachus, Humberto Casanova, United Methodist Communications.

General excellence — El Intérprete magazine — Amanda Bachus, Humberto Casanova, United Methodist Communications.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Related Articles

Association honors church communicators

Church communicators honored during annual gathering

Communicators receive new Helping Hand scholarships

Resources

United Methodist Association of Communicators


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