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Church communicators honored during annual gathering

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A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Dana Jones (center), editor of Response magazine, is named 2005 Communicator of the Year.
Oct. 18, 2005

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

SAN ANTONIO (UMNS) — Dana Jones, United Methodist deaconess and editor of Response, the official magazine of United Methodist Women, is the church’s 2005 Communicator of the Year.

Jones received the award from the United Methodist Association of Communicators during the group’s annual awards banquet Oct. 14.

During the banquet, the association also inducted three people into the UMAC Hall of Fame: Thomas McAnally, former director of United Methodist News Service; the late Donald Small, former United Methodist Communications field staff representative of the Western Jurisdiction; and the late Rev. Robert L. Robertson, former editor of the church’s North Texas Annual (regional) Conference.

About 75 people attended the association’s banquet at the Hyatt Regency. The Oct. 13-15 meeting included workshops, an awards banquet and a roundtable discussion.

Jones has been editor of Response for the past 13 years.

“To be recognized by my colleagues is the best thing in the world,” she said in her acceptance speech. Her work involves giving voice to women, youth and children, she said, and being recognized for that work “means their voices are being heard.”

In nominating her for the award, the Rev. Paul Jeffrey said, “I believe she embodies the best of our calling. Naming her as Communicator of the Year will encourage all of us to strive for greater faithfulness to the Gospel at the same time we work for higher levels of professionalism.”

Jones is also part of the Women’s Division team that trains conference coordinators of communication. Before joining the Women’s Division at the Board of Global Ministries, she was communications director for the Northern Illinois Conference. She has extensive experience in communications, including work in the church, community-college public relations, and secular newspaper editing and reporting.

She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and a member of Memorial United Methodist Church in White Plains, N.Y., where her husband, the Rev. Joe Agne, is pastor.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Thomas McAnally, former director of United Methodist News Service, is inducted into the UMAC Hall of Fame.
Bettie Wilson Story, 2002 Hall of Fame winner, nominated McAnally for the UMAC Hall of Fame. “Tom was not only a mentor, encourager, colleague, guide and memorial storyteller, I’m sure scores of communicators — as do I — consider him a treasured friend,” Story said in making the nomination.

“I feel especially honored to be included with Don Small and Bob Robertson in this honor,” McAnally said. “I have known 53 of the 62 inductees into the Hall of Fame.

“This is a great organization, and I know you mean a lot to each other. In this business, you get a lot of criticism and very little support and appreciation. Thank you very much.”

McAnally retired after 33 years with the church. He was director of United Methodist News Service from 1983 until his retirement in 2002, developing the news service into one of the first church agencies to harness the power of e-mail and the World Wide Web.

From 1962 to 1968, he directed public relations and Methodist Information for the Nebraska Annual Conference. He joined the Nashville News Office for United Methodist Communications as a director in 1969. He covered 12 General Conferences.

Small’s wife, JoAnne, and son, Michael, were at the banquet to accept his award.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

JoAnne Small and her son, Michael, speak for the late Donald Small, who was inducted into the UMAC Hall of Fame.
Donald and JoAnne were lay missionaries to Southeast Asia. He was editor of the Tennessee Conference edition of Methodist Reporter and then joined the staff of the United Methodist Reporter in Dallas. From there, he was hired to be the Western Jurisdiction field staff person for United Methodist Communications in Phoenix.

Former colleagues Shirley Struchen, Boyce Bowden and Linda Schnor-Stimel wrote brief statements of admiration for Small.

“Don’s name was Small, but there was nothing small about his mind and heart and spirit,” Bowden wrote.

“When we were working at UMR, I used to tease him that when I died and went to heaven, it would be my luck to have to produce the Angelic News,” Schnor-Stimel wrote. “Somehow, I know that Don is now the editor of the Angelic News and it’s in good hands.”

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert

Dana Jones (center), editor of Response magazine, is named 2005 Communicator of the Year.
“We thank you for your friendship and helpfulness through the years, and thank you for this honor,” JoAnne Small said in accepting the award for her husband.

Joan LaBarr, North Texas Conference communications director, presented the award for Robertson and also announced that the Robert L. (Bob) Robertson Scholarship in Christian Communication has been endowed.

“Bob served 51 years as a pastor before he died July 31, 2002,” LaBarr said. Robertson was appointed director of Methodist Information and Public Relations for the Central Texas Conference in 1976. He was later named executive director of the United Methodist Communications Council for the Conferences of Texas and New Mexico and was editor of the North Texas Conference edition of the United Methodist Reporter.

The Robert L. Robertson scholarship will be administered by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Office of Loans and Scholarships. The $20,000 needed to endow the scholarship was sent to the board to be invested. The first scholarship of $1,000 annually will be awarded in 2006 to an upper-level undergraduate or graduate student preparing for a career in Christian communication.

In other business, the association handed out awards. Recognition included certificates of merit, Best of Division honors and Awards of Excellence.

Awards of Excellence winners were:

Newspapers: Annette Spence Bender, Holston Conference, The Call.

Newsletters: Frank DeGregorie, Board of Global Ministries, On Purpose.

Magazines: Stephen L. Swecker, Zion’s Herald.

Brochures & Promotional Materials: Kimberly Pace and Carolyn Dandridge, General Board of Discipleship, 21st Century Africana: Liturgy and Worship Resources.

Special Publications: John Coleman, Baltimore-Washington Conference, Many Gifts.

Videos/Films: Costing More Than $10,000: John Coleman, Baltimore-Washington Conference, Many Gifts.

Videos/Films: Costing Less Than $10,000: Tim McDaniel, North Georgia Annual Conference, We Are Called to Love Kindness; and Jeneane Jones, California-Nevada Annual Conference, The Church Among Us.

Television/Cable: Eddie Rester, “The United Methodist Hour,” Hoping and Home.

Internet: -- Kathy Gilbert, Mike DuBose, Lane Denson, Tim Tanton, Fran Walsh, Tony Cook, Mozambique: A Land of Contrasts.

Writing: Paul Jeffrey, National Catholic Reporter, “Latin America Today.”

Photography: Paul Jeffrey, ACT/Caritas, photo collection from Darfur, Sudan.

Class XVI Special Section or Supplement: Christie House, New World Outlook, “Mission When the Going Gets Rough.”

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

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or

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