United Methodist Communications Celebrates 75 Years of Storytelling

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Nashville-based United Methodist Communications is kicking off a 75-day countdown to its 75th anniversary on October 1.

150 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY where the first agency office was housed. Photo courtesy of the General Commission on Archives and History.

Throughout its journey, the agency has sought to stay at the forefront of mass communication using the media of the day ...

This year marks three-quarters of a century since the Methodist Church's first national communications office opened in New York on October 1, 1940 – an office that was to become United Methodist Communications, the global communications agency of The United Methodist Church.

“Throughout its journey, the agency has sought to stay at the forefront of mass communication using the media of the day, from print to radio to film to TV to advertising to digital media,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “As we move forward, we will challenge ourselves to build on this legacy by encouraging visionary thinking and embracing emerging technologies.”

Over the next 75 days, a series of feature articles and historic photographs on the agency's website, as well as a timeline that marks 75 years of milestones, will provide a glimpse into the organization’s storied history.

United Methodist Communications’ roots date back to the uniting conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church, held in Kansas City, Missouri in 1939. It was there that church leaders voiced the need to keep their audiences better informed.

"The greatest modern agencies for taking the message of this church to its own people and all people must be called into full action,” said bishops in their address at the historic meeting. “No feature of possible work offers a larger field for service than this of church and Christian intelligence … A department of Methodist intelligence in the proper boards, adequate in equipment, capable in management, and vigorous in action will have extraordinary possibilities for the united church."

The following year, the Commission on Public Information was born, with a meager annual budget of $25,000 and a directive to focus on press and public relations. That was the first step toward creation of today's model of a comprehensive strategic communications agency that utilizes all appropriate means to communicate the Christian faith.

Today, United Methodist Communications is responsible for designing and providing communication skills training, equipping local churches for communications ministry, public and media relations, Web and social media, newsgathering, marketing, advertising, promoting giving, strategic messaging, research, production, supporting global communications infrastructure and much more.

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, products and resources for communications ministry.

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Diane Degnan
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