Thursday, March 23, 2017, was a special day for storytellers gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, from around the world to “Embrace the Story” at the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC) annual meeting.
In the morning worship session, held at First Grace United Methodist Church, UMAC participants heard a powerful sermon by Pastor Shawn Moses Anglim. He concluded, “Sometimes you need to stay in the dark long enough for God to turn on the Light.”
Later, during the evening Awards Celebration Dinner, the efforts of 160 communicators were recognized. Their entries, across 10 classes of communication, bore witness to the shining of Christ’s Light at levels local to global.
Best in Class awards are as follows:
Class I Print Publications — Robert F. Storey Award of Excellence
Interpreter—Dan Krause, Kathy Noble, Jennifer Rodia, Julie Dwyer, Joey Butler, Mike DuBose, Kathleen Barry, Elsie Cunningham, Tricia Bruckbauer (United Methodist Communications)
Class II Digital Publications
The Reporter—Arthur McClanahan, Liz Winders (Iowa Conference)
Class III Writing — Donn Doten Award of Excellence
Pastor’s healing from abuse inspires ministry and meeting with the Pope—John Coleman, Lindsey Cotman (Eastern Pennsylvania Conference)
Northern Light’s ‘love letter’ to Orlando reaches United Methodist pastor—Christa Meland (Minnesota Conference)
Class IV Internet Communications
Perspectives—Stephen J. Hustedt, Ashley Riddell, Mary Dalgish, Shannon Hodson, Karen Campolieto (Upper New York Conference)
Class V Video Production
Living Generously—David Stucke, Doreen Gosmire (Dakotas Conference)
Class VI Audio Production
The Kindness Project—Rev. Dr. Robin Blair (Common Good Radio)
Class VII Photography
Face of the Lumad—Kathleen Barry (United Methodist Communications)
Exploring East Congo—Mike DuBose (United Methodist Communications)
Class VIII Visual Design
Bazillion Book Drive Logo—Lyn Cosby, Danette Clifton, Mary Simpson (North Alabama Conference)
Class IX Publicity and Advertising — Leonard M. Perryman Award of Excellence
UM Cocoa—Poonam Patodia, Jennifer Rodia, Diane Degnan, Laura Buchanan, Crystal Caviness, Steven Adair, Royya James, Tyrus Sturgis, Sheila Harrison, Andrew Schleicher (United Methodist Communications)
Class X Media Presentations
GBHEM Booth—Ebony Lincoln, Donnie Reed, Beth Neil (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry)
Doreen Gosmire, member of the UMAC leadership team and associate director of communications for the Dakotas Conference, has organized the UMAC awards for the past two years. She says this about the value of the competition: “Learning about each other’s work gives you ideas. It refreshes you and renews your spirit for telling the story.” Gosmire notes that there was a total of 250 entries representing 300-400 contributors.
“Those entries represent a massive amount of energy, time and resources,” she said. “It’s phenomenal the number of people out there telling the story of The United Methodist Church in so many different ways.”
During the evening, two women were recognized as exceptional bearers of Christ’s Light.
Cate Monaghan, who retired from her role as communications director of the California-Nevada Conference in 2012, was named the UMAC Hall of Fame inductee for 2017. The UMAC Hall of Fame recognizes retired communicators with a minimum of 10 years experience as a United Methodist communicator and emphasizes their contribution to and record of excellence within the communication ministry of the church.
Bishop John Schol of the Greater New Jersey Area was on hand to introduce his director of communications, Carolyn Conover, as the 2017 Communicator of the Year. The annual Communicator of the Year award is presented to an active communicator who is nominated by another UMAC member for recent striking achievements in communication, as well as, the broad impact of her/his contribution and vision-thinking in the ministry of church communication.
The association was also thrilled to welcome communicator Ndzule Tueche “Joe” of the United Methodist Church in Côte d'Ivoire, who attended the gathering with the help of the UMAC "Helping Hands" fund.
The theme of the 2017 gathering was "Embrace the Story." During the three days of learning and networking, communicators focused on best practices, practical strategies and technical skills to not only tell the inspiring stories of mission and ministry of the United Methodist Church, but to also share the more difficult stories the church faces from natural disasters to controversial topics to senseless acts of violence.