United Methodist Communications Celebrates 80th Birthday

Various TV programs have been offered over the years. Talk Back featured local pastors as moderators guiding a panel conversation about ethics and moral issues. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
Various TV programs have been offered over the years. Talk Back featured local pastors as moderators guiding a panel conversation about ethics and moral issues. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
InfoServ—now known as Ask the UMC—was created in October 1974 as a centralized place to handle all types of questions about the denomination. In a pre-computer era, there were no databases so everything had to be done manually, including reading every publication, news story or article related to The United Methodist Church.  (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
InfoServ—now known as Ask the UMC—was created in October 1974 as a centralized place to handle all types of questions about the denomination. In a pre-computer era, there were no databases so everything had to be done manually, including reading every publication, news story or article related to The United Methodist Church. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
On Oct. 1, 1940, the Rev. Ralph Stoody opened the “Commission on Public Information” office at 150 5th Avenue N. in New York, known more informally as Methodist Information or MI. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
On Oct. 1, 1940, the Rev. Ralph Stoody opened the “Commission on Public Information” office at 150 5th Avenue N. in New York, known more informally as Methodist Information or MI. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
Communication training sessions were held to equip leaders with the skills needed to keep up with the developing tools and the opportunities they afforded – such as editing Super 8 mm film. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
Communication training sessions were held to equip leaders with the skills needed to keep up with the developing tools and the opportunities they afforded – such as editing Super 8 mm film. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
The General Conference formed the Radio and Film Commission in 1948, which would eventually become TRAFCO with the addition of the word “television.” (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
The General Conference formed the Radio and Film Commission in 1948, which would eventually become TRAFCO with the addition of the word “television.” (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
During General Conferences, UMCom staff generated news releases and stories, served as a liaison with secular media, arranged news conferences and even produced radio and television shows for church members. A General Conference newsroom accommodates the needs of secular and the church’s communications professionals alike. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)
During General Conferences, UMCom staff generated news releases and stories, served as a liaison with secular media, arranged news conferences and even produced radio and television shows for church members. A General Conference newsroom accommodates the needs of secular and the church’s communications professionals alike. (Photo courtesy of United Methodist Communications)

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2020

Nashville, Tennessee – On October 1, 2020, United Methodist Communications celebrates 80 years of communication ministry.

Communication has changed dramatically during the agency’s storied history, the seed of which began at the Uniting Conference of 1939, where bishops voiced the need for more effective communication. The denomination’s first communication agency—the Commission on Public Information—opened its doors the following year with a focus on telling the church’s story by getting publicity in newspapers, magazines, radio and theater newsreels.

That was the first step on a journey toward creation of a comprehensive communications agency that today engages millions of people with the story of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church. United Methodist Communications (UMCom) continues to tell inspirational stories of individuals and congregations living out their faith through a myriad of modern communication channels.

Radio and film were a focus in the early days, and the Radio and Film Commission was formed in 1948. In 1954, “television” was added to the name as they began to produce programs such as The Pastor and The Way.  The denomination’s communications functions evolved through many name and structural changes before the 1972 General Conference consolidated TRAFCO and Methodist Information with the Division of Interpretation, and the resulting agency was named United Methodist Communications.

“A constant throughout the years has been a willingness to evolve to meet the changing needs and media consumption habits of audiences,” said chief executive Dan Krause. “That was evident in 2001 when, six days into the very first United Methodist ad campaign, the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred and the messaging pivoted overnight to one of hope and healing.  And it’s never been more apparent than in 2020 as agency staff have stepped up to meet new challenges.”

A new video titled “The Power of Communication,” recaps the agency’s journey to resource church leaders to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and launch a new campaign aimed at ending racism.

An enduring focus has been working in partnership with local churches to provide training and resources for church leaders. In the 50s, motion pictures and filmstrips were produced for church use, which evolved to video tapes with the advent of VCRs. Then, with the rise of global connectivity, UMCom embraced the transition to digital resources for local churches. Today UMCom provides a multitude of resources, content, services and training designed to equip and empower church leaders, training 3,000+ people and serving 4,300 churches in 2019.

In 2001, United Methodist Communications created the denomination’s first comprehensive advertising campaign to raise awareness of the United Methodist Church, sharing messages of invitation through TV commercials, print ads, and billboards. Since that time, UMCom has used advertising to reach people who are struggling with grief and loss in the aftermath of natural disasters and tragedies, from the Sandy Hook shooting to the Boston Marathon bombing to a Minnesota bridge collapse to floods and hurricanes. In 2019, United Methodist Communications created 90 million impressions through ads. 

This year, outreach/evangelistic messages were placed outside the U.S. as UMCom seeks to grow its global footprint to meet the diverse needs of a worldwide, multilingual church, using the power of communication to enhance ministry and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people everywhere.

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About United Methodist Communications

As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, and resources for communications ministry. Learn how to support our work at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

 

Media contact:
Diane Degnan [email protected]
615.483.1765