Sept. 28, 2004
By Linda Green*
(UMNS)-United Methodist Communications is poised to help the
denomination focus on increasing attendance, participation, giving and
visibility during the next four years.
|A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry
The Rev. Larry Hollon, with the help of sign-language interpreter Vee Blanton, welcomes commission members.
was the message the Rev. Larry Hollon provided to the Commission on
Communications, the agency’s governing body, during its Sept. 23-26
church’s constituencies must work together to respond to the needs of
individuals in the church as well as the congregations themselves, said
Hollon, the agency’s top staff executive.
meet the great human needs of the people of the world, and to bring
light-giving messages into the darkness, we must focus the leadership
and energy of the whole church toward our shared ministry," he said.
communications commission embraced a number of strategies that build on
the recognition created by the denomination’s 4-year-old Igniting
Ministry campaign, a national television advertising and local church
commission agreed to offer leadership in helping the church increase
first-time worship attendance by 10 percent during the quadrennium. The
agency plans to do that through Igniting Ministry, which it manages.
Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, authorized $25
million for television advertising during the next four years. The
commission directed United Methodist Communications staff to work with
other church boards and agencies to ensure that local congregations have
affordable, effective evangelism tools through the campaign.
should result in increased participation in the life of local churches,
the commission said. The group committed to work with local church
leaders, church agencies, bishops and annual conferences on creating new
ways of being in ministry together.
|A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry
Sherri Thiel, Joseph Ha (center) and the Rev. Gary Henderson discuss the work of United Methodist Communications.
must build upon the outreach of the church," Hollon said. "We must seek
to create communities of deep support that understand themselves as
part of the fabric of the global community."
promise of open hearts, open minds, open doors, leads us to collaborate
and to outward focus to carry out shared mission to the world," Hollon
commission also affirmed the communications agency partnering with the
United Methodist Board of Discipleship to support a church start in each
of the denomination’s five U.S. jurisdictions. The agencies would
combine services in advertising, promotion and interpretation, training
in welcoming and hospitality, and leadership development and giving.
commission said it would work with local churches, bishops and general
agencies to help the denomination overcome its financial problems. By
using strategic education, training and marketing research, the agency
aims to help increase giving by individual members by 1 percent in 10
annual conferences during the next four years.
example, if the average family in an annual conference contributes 5
percent of its income to the church, the goal would be to increase that
giving to 6 percent.
churchwide agencies in collaboration "embody inclusiveness in a
meaningful way that demonstrates that no one is beyond the reach of
God’s love, and no one is beyond the concern of the Christian
|A UMNS photo by Ronny Perry
Bishop Thomas Bickerton (left), Harry Leake and Pam Price discuss video production at United Methodist Communications.
the church moves to increase attendance, participation and giving, it
will create opportunities to be visible in the world, commission members
way in which the church could become more visible is through a possible
initiative focusing on the health and wholeness of individuals,
families, local churches and clergy. Hollon told commission members the
focus is a natural outcome of concerns raised by the United Methodist
Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
to the general population, we know that our clergy are not healthy. The
increased cost of health care is one of the biggest problems local
churches and annual conferences face," Hollon said. "We need to reframe
the discussion about health care to identify wholeness of body, spirit,
mind and community."
possible step would involve identifying United Methodist congregations
that are already engaged in health ministries and work toward a goal of
having 5,000 churches in the United States and other countries conduct
health clinics and health fairs.
would it be like if every United Methodist health care clinic and
practitioner offered a free clinic visit on one day during the
quadrennium?" Hollon asked. "We would be opening doors, with the church
leading people to getting the health care they need."
said executive staff from the Board of Pension and Health Benefits,
Board of Discipleship, Board of Global Ministries, Board of Church and
Society, and United Methodist Communications are engaged in
conversations on a denomination-wide focus on health and wholeness.
Those discussions, he said, are focusing on the United States and other
countries where the church is in ministry.
commission’s president, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of Pittsburgh, said
the proposed concepts reflect the call for unity and collaboration
voiced by the 2004 General Conference, which met last spring in
are called by Christ to be trailblazers," Bickerton said. "To serve
God, we must work together at all levels of the church. We must take
bold steps to serve the poor and give voice to the voiceless. As we do
that, the people of the United Methodist Church are showing their
hearts, their minds and their doors are open to the world."
commission also elected officers: Bickerton, president; Rebecca L.
Kohler, a development and marketing consultant from Oneida, N.Y., vice
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn. UMNS is a unit of United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org