“The United Methodist Church has a communications agency?” That was my surprised response back in 2009 when a friend in New York City called me to say that not only did the church have an agency dedicated to communications, but it was located in Nashville, Tennessee where I had recently moved. I have always believed that God can lead you to where you need to be, but that opportunity eight years ago to join United Methodist Communications as the Director of Advertising allowed me to marry my gifts and work experience with service to the church I love.
I deeply believe that God has a message of hope for our broken and hurting world. As a young child, I dreamed of one day becoming a writer who would create stories that would help people understand God’s love for them. That dream continued as I earned a Masters of Fine Arts in writing and began working in the film industry. That evolved into more work in film and then television, commercial production and eventually advertising. For over four years, I was a producer for NFL Films and produced Kick-off, Thanksgiving and Play-Off campaigns for the National Football League. Two of the spots aired during Super Bowls. My other clients included Nike, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Harley-Davidson and Partnership for a Drug-free America.
In 2005, our son, Lukas, experienced a rare complication at birth that left him with a significant physical disability. Knowledge that his illness would make life in a city like New York particularly challenging prompted our move to Nashville – a city we imagined would be a lot more handicap friendly. It turned out to be a great move on multiple levels, our son is thriving in spite of his challenges, many of our family relocated near us creating a great support network, and my husband and I are about to celebrate our 20-year anniversary.
As much as I enjoyed living and working in New York City, my dream was realized in Nashville. Nothing has been as professionally rewarding and personally satisfying as my work at United Methodist Communications. It has given me a tangible way to live out God’s call on my life and fulfill a passion for connecting people with Jesus as I work with churches and provide them with tools, training and resources for outreach. I came to United Methodist Communications to lead the advertising initiative, but as my role expanded into leading the training team that provided a wonderful connection to the local church. I’ve had the opportunity to design and facilitate workshops across the United States as well as lead five workshops in the Philippines and present at a communication conference in Rome sponsored by the Vatican.
It is the hands-on work that I most love, and, while I work for the general church, I am also an active volunteer at Providence United Methodist Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, where I now serve with middle school youth – helping to connect another generation with God. During the hard times with Lukas’ health issues, I’ve experienced what it is like when the people around you become God’s hands and feet in this world and that has reaffirmed for me the relevance of being part of a church community. I feel humbled that I have the opportunity in all aspects of my life to invite others into that kind of relationship.
Jennifer Rodia is currently the Chief Communications Officer at United Methodist Communications where she oversees communication strategy, training, production and The United Methodist Church’s national advertising messages – Rethink Church.