|Global communicators honor three Methodists|
By Linda Bloom*
August 13, 2009 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
A prophetic voice on the intersection of faith and culture, a
pioneer in ecumenical broadcasting, a leader among global Christian
communicators and an innovator in media training have been named
honorary life members of the World Association of Christian Communicators.
Three Methodists—the Rev. William Fore, the Rev. Carlos Valle and
Shirley Whipple Struchen—and a Baptist, the Rev. Ed Willingham—are
being recognized by the association’s board of directors for their
dedication and achievements in communications rights around the world.
Installation will take place in 2010.
“These four honorary life members have shown particular dedication to
furthering WACC's communication initiatives and to broadening the
network of people South and North working to advance social justice,”
said Lavinia Mohr, an association executive.
Shirley Whipple Struchen,
executive director of the Religion Communicators Council, has been
named an honorary life member of the World Association of Christian
Communicators. A UMNS file
photo by George Conklin.
Fore, a United Methodist pastor, was the association’s president from
1982 to 1990 and served for many years as executive director of the
communication commission of the U.S. National Council of Churches.
The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, called Fore a “prophetic voice” who advocated for equal access and justice in media.
“He has made an enormous contribution through his writing about the
intersection of faith and culture and the important role media play in
shaping values and attitudes,” Hollon said. “He has called the church
to engage actively in media for justice and to influence the public
conversation in constructive ways.”
Fore has taught at Yale Divinity School and the United Theological
College in Bangalore, India. His books include “Television and
Religion: The Shaping of Faith, Values and Culture” and “Mythmakers:
Gospel, Culture and Media.”
Wesley “Pat” Patillo, a senior program director at the National Council
of Churches, called Fore “a towering figure in religious
communications” and noted his productive career with the council. “He
was instrumental in helping churches tell their stories in more
compelling ways, calling them to set higher standards for their own
media work, and to serve as a moral and ethical watchdog of media
performance in the marketplace,” he said.
Valle, a Methodist minister from Argentina, served as the association’s
top executive from 1986 through 2001. He also was a staff member of the
ecumenical theological school, University Institute ISEDET, in Buenos
Aires, where he taught courses on communication, especially film and
Focusing on the world aspect of the association, he recognized the need
for dialogue between communicators within North and Latin America and
helped establish encounters between the two groups in 1986 and 1988. He
also organized the association’s first world congress, held in Manila,
and fostered a relationship with the World Council of Churches.
Mohr, who is a liaison with the Latin America region, said Valle “led
the organization through several major changes, strengthening its
regional relationships, its understanding of communication and mission,
and its focus on communication rights.”
Struchen, executive director of the Religion Communicators Council, is
coordinator of the upcoming Religion Communication Congress 2010 in
Since retiring from United Methodist Communications in 2001, she has
continued to work as a producer and coordinator for interfaith
broadcasting projects with the National Council of Churches. She has
served on the North America Executive Committee and board of directors
of the World Association of Christian Communicators.
Hollon said Struchen led the staff at United Methodist Communications
who were offering satellite training across the church. “Shirley not
only helped to develop and implement Television Awareness Training, an
effort to assist concerned parents, educators and others to evaluate
the effects of media upon our lives, she also helped to pioneer new
ways of conducting training in a variety of subjects important to
quality of life and faith,” he said.
Willingham, a Baptist minister, worked for three decades with the
Council of Churches of Detroit and Windsor. He was a delegate to the
1968 conference that gave birth to the World Association of Christian
Communicators and was business manager of the association’s North
America Broadcast Section for nearly 30 years.
Citing his pioneering work in ecumenical broadcasting, Hollon noted
Willingham’s support of creating local programming and his role as “an
active interpreter to the church of the value of engaging in media to
get its voice heard.”
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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