The Rev. Robert L. Johnson of Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in Philadelphia demonstrates how we’re saved by grace during closing worship at UMAC 2018.

The final day of the 2018 UMAC gathering in Philadelphia started with another Breakfast in the Know, this round hearing from the Connectional Table, Church and Society, Wespath, Global Ministries and the Commission on Religion and Race. The Connectional Table continues to work on the church’s four areas of focus, and Church and Society talked about current initiatives and the resources available to help churches discuss today’s pressing issues, such as gun violence prevention. Wespath spoke about its name change and streamlined communications, followed by Global Ministries promising to be better in touch. Religion and Race shared its ministry model, helping the denomination with institutional equity, intercultural competency and having the hard but necessary conversations.

Breakfast was followed by a final business meeting and leadership team elections. The slate was full of great candidates, who each had a chance to introduce themselves. In the end, Cathy Bruce, Jasmine Haynes and Andra Stevens were elected. Doreen Gosmire and Tara Barnes were reelected—Gosmire for one year to fill the vacancy left by Christina Dillabough, who resigned from her position a year early, and Barnes for two additional years.

UMAC Leadership Team
Mark Doyal, chair
Rick Wolcott, vice chair
Evelyn Warren, treasurer and recording secretary
Royya James, executive director
Jessica Brodie, leadership development
Art McClanahan, chair emeritus

Members at large
Doreen Gosmire
Todd Siefert
Tara Barnes
Cathy Bruce
Jasmine Haynes
Andra Stevens

Next up was Innovation Talks, featuring Ed Cambron with the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, Matt Smith with Visit Philly and, via videoconference, the Rev. Adam Weber with Embrace United Methodist Church. Cambron shared Kimmel’s work toward building an audience, realizing they had four different segments to reach: workhorses, old school connoisseurs, adventurous intellectuals and casual followers. It was this last audience, Cambron said, where growth can occur. Smith spoke about Visit Philly’s social media campaign leading up to the Super Bowl asking Philadelphia expatriots what they missed most about Philadelphia. They received many, many replies—so they sent out care packages to homesick Philadelphians. Check out the video:

"Philly Heaven in a Box!"

Yo! Philly fans, far and wide! We asked what you needed to celebrate the Philadelphia Eagles game, and you had A LOT to share.Thanks, Shibe Vintage Sports and Campo's Since 1947, for helping us spread the Philly love before the big game. GO BIRDS!

Posted by Philadelphia — on Saturday, February 3, 2018


The Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, chief connectional ministries officer, and the Rev. Maidstone Mulenga, director of communications for the United Methodist Council of Bishops, next lent some insight and perspective on communicating the church’s A Way Forward, especially as the 2019 special session of General Conference takes place in less than a year.

Attendees spent the afternoon at the historical Tindley Temple, learning about the church’s history and hearing from a panel discussing the denomination’s history and how to lead in changing times. The panel featured the Rev. Robert L. Johnson, pastor at Tindley, the Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, Fred Day, General Secretary of Archives and History, and Bishop John Schol of the New Jersey Episcopal Area.

“As Christians we’ve always weathered storms,” said the Rev. Johnson. “We’re in a storm. And sometimes a storm displaces what needs to be displaced. But you can’t go through the storm without Jesus.”

The Facebook Live video of the lively panel is here. More coverage of Friday’s plenaries and panels will be posted here in the days to come.

Awards Celebration
United Methodist communicators celebrated one another’s great work throughout 2017 with an awards banquet on Friday evening. First, second and third place awards were handed out in the categories print publications, digital publications, writing, publicity and advertising, video production, audio, photography, visual designs and media presentations. A best in class award was also given for each category.

The 2018 UMAC Hall of Fame inductee was Wayne Rhodes, former director of communications for the Board of Church and Society and longtime UMAC member and mentor. The 2018 Communicator of the Year was Deborah Coble, director of communications for the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

A full listing of awards and more on Rhodes and Coble will be posted soon.

The 2019 UMAC gathering will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, Feb. 21-22, right before the special session of General Conference as well as after, on Feb. 27, for a half day postmortem as those communicating the church’s story navigate the changes to come.

See you in St. Louis!

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