|Publishing House to provide support to hurricane victims|
Oct. 11, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
A waterlogged hymnal lies on the mud-soaked carpet at Coden (Ala.) United Methodist Church following Hurricane Katrina.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)—Some of the most heartbreaking pictures of
destruction confronting United Methodist churches after Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita are water-soaked and ruined Bibles, United Methodist
hymnals and other worship resources.
The board of the United Methodist Publishing House, meeting in Nashville
Oct. 3-5, voted unanimously to spend up to $500,000 to restore those
“We will work hand in hand with the bishops and cabinets of those annual
conferences most affected to plan for efficient and timely help for as
long as it takes,” said Neil M. Alexander, president and publisher. “Our
aim is to support their work of rebuilding vital centers of worship,
Christian formation, evangelism and mission.”
During the annual meeting, the board learned the Publishing House earned
$1 million on the bottom line for the operating budget in the fiscal
year that ended July 31, 2005. This amount will be contributed to clergy
pensions, most of which will be used to support those in the central
conferences — the church’s regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — who have
the greatest need.
Harriett Jane Olson, senior vice president of publishing, reported on recent changes in Disciple Bible Study.
“More than a million people have participated in Disciple,” said Olson,
“but there are still United Methodist congregations that have never had a
Disciple group. In order to make it more accessible and appealing to
those congregations, we have produced new, up-to-date videos for the
first study; we are offering shorter, lower-cost training sessions and
making training available on DVD for those who cannot attend; and we
have made Disciple products available for sale in Cokesbury stores and
Board members heard that the online store, Cokesbury.com, generated
almost $7 million in sales during the fiscal year, exceeding prior-year
sales by 40 percent. They also received a report that sales through
Cokesbury Music Service topped $1 million for the first time, which is
41 percent over budget and 56 percent over prior year; and they learned
that Cokesbury’s vacation Bible school, Circle G Ranch, had a 16 percent
increase in sales over the previous fiscal year.
|A UMNS photo by Kathy Gilbert
Neil Alexander addresses Publishing House board members in this 2004 file photo.
Ed Kowalski, senior vice president of sales, reported that Cokesbury’s
Christian Education Showcase produced a sales gain of 5.8 percent over
the same period a year earlier. “In addition,” Kowalski said, “the
average order value increased by almost 8 percent, and we increased the
total number of buyers of our quarterly curriculum, turning around the
declining trend of recent years.”
Major new resources for children will be available in the fall of 2006. A
new children’s study Bible, using the New Revised Standard Version, is
designed for children ages 8 through 12. The study will include notes in
the text that help children discover who God is and how God wants them
to live, explore the people and places of the Bible, learn how to apply
biblical truths to their lives, and memorize verses for use in their
lives. In addition, Live B.I.G., a new DVD-based curriculum for
children, will be available in fall 2006.
Alexander acknowledged that the Publishing House faces a challenging
church resources marketplace. “But that makes our job merely difficult,”
he said. “Our charge is to extend the unique witness of the United
Methodist Church by shaping a publishing and distribution ministry that
is Wesleyan in character, responsive and leading in spirit, and
financially self-sustaining. By the grace of God, we will fashion ever
more effective ways to help more people in more places come to know God
through Jesus Christ, learn to love God, and choose to serve God and
On Oct. 4, board members worshipped with the Rev. Rudy Rasmus and the
music team from St. John's United Methodist Church Downtown in Houston.
Founded in 1992 with assistance from Windsor Village United Methodist
Church, the church has grown from just nine members to more than 9,000
under the leadership of Rasmus and his wife and copastor, the Rev.
Juanita Rasmus. By 1995, St. John’s had participating members from every
ZIP code in the metropolitan Houston area, as their ministry brought
together people searching for meaning and ways to help those in need.
*Information for this report was provided by Judy Smith, associate to
the president and publisher, United Methodist Publishing House.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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