I have served as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate since June 2010, and I genuinely consider it to be a true blessing to serve God through this newspaper ministry.
I have been a writer since I could pick up a pencil, but I’ve always felt a call to not only write but also to use my writing to make a difference in the world. I used to run a secular community weekly newspaper, but it began to feel too small-scale, especially as my faith and my commitment to being a Jesus-follower strengthened. While I enjoyed the opportunity to help my community, I wanted to help their souls, too, and impact more people than one community. God answered my prayer in early 2010, when I felt God steer me to the computer—and to the press association website in a state I’d only visited once before and had absolutely no connection to: South Carolina. To my surprise, an open position was announced on that website for the editor of a newspaper I’d never heard of (the Advocate) that seemed to have “me” written all over it. The Advocate was seeking an editor who was also a writer (check!) with design, photography, layout and management skills, who was also preferably a United Methodist (all: check!). Less than two months later, I’d moved my small family to a little rental apartment just outside Columbia, South Carolina, and began this new adventure.
Fast-forward seven years, and I’m still feeling beyond happy and blessed to be at the helm of this 180-year-old publication. There are so many “best aspects” of my job, which I consider to be my ministry passion and calling. I especially love being able to use my central gift of writing to glorify God, whether through news articles, inspiring features, personal columns or social advocacy-type editorials. I love that our paper is a clearinghouse that lifts up the stories of God at work through South Carolina United Methodists and shines that light not only in this state but also around the world.
My greatest strengths are in my ability to be both a “forest” and a “trees” person, visioning bold new ways for the Advocate to serve God’s Kingdom and the denomination as well as enhancing and improving smaller-scale priorities. I’m a perfectionist who daily prays to be led by the Lord, so I strive to help make the Advocate the best it can possibly be with God at our head and me as God’s editor-in-chief. My primary gifts include writing, editing (my articles plus hundreds of submissions), design, management (budgeting, managing expenses, growing revenue, supervising staff, etc.), public speaking, teaching via workshops and other means, website and social media work, and marketing. No matter the mode of expression, I’m all in.
I believe we never stop learning and can never achieve the best version of ourselves, and as Christ-followers, it is our duty to cultivate and enhance our gifts to serve and glorify God. I strive to be a better writer, speaker, photographer, journalist, faith leader, Christian and individual. As a side note, I also write fiction (I’ve written two novels already and am seeking publishers), and my growth through my Advocate leadership has also influenced my decision to be not just a novelist but a Christian novelist.
My hope for the church is that we continue to embrace what unites us and keep God as our priority over anything else. We are a church united in Christ and in a mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world. That’s more important than anything else. Peter said much the same in Acts regarding circumcision. We need to give fellow Christians grace and allow ourselves to understand that they might be feeling just as passionately (and just as “called”) as we do about whatever issue or concern is driving them right now. We need to seek God’s favor and not people’s favor, whatever that means to us, and let the Holy Spirit guide us in all we do—whether that’s voting or dialogue or how we speak and act on a daily basis. And we need to continue to ask God to guide us and use us as His instruments.
If we do this, I know God will carve out a future for a church that is able to serve God no matter what. After all, God is the all-powerful alpha-omega, who created the world and the heavens and everything in them.
God can certainly do this.
Jessica Brodie is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate.
Photo: South Carolina communicators Jessica and Matt Brodi, interview Elizabeth Murray, a page and marshall during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon.