by Anne Marie Gerhardt

Did you know the first daily newspaper in the United States started in Philadelphia in 1784? Or that the first general purpose computer was constructed at University of Pennsylvania in 1945 by six women?

Dan Krause, top executive at United Methodist Communications, said we can thank these early pioneers for embracing change. “Computers once the size of a room are now on our wrists and in our pockets because of people who embraced a new and different way of doing things,” said Krause, who addressed the United Methodist Association of Communicators annual meeting during the morning plenary at the historic Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia on March 8. “Embracing change is something we all know a little bit about as United Methodist communicators.”

Krause said as we live into change across the denomination, UMCOM has been evaluating how they can be effective leaders in embracing communication shifts. Up against competing voices and ambiguous communication channels, Krause said the agency is focusing on four objectives: engaging, equipping, claiming and nurturing.

“We’re aligning our messages and creating spaces for communicating with three main audiences: members, leaders and seekers,” said Krause. “For all of these, we seek to create dynamic content targeted to the interests of each of these audiences along with clear communication channels utilizing a variety of mediums for each, including a website, an e-newsletter, social media channels, and emerging fields like messaging apps.”

Another area Krause said that UMCOM is growing and adding emphasis is support for local churches in their communications outreach.

“We want the local church to be at the heart of all we do, and we are working to form stronger relationships with churches around the world who are looking at how to better communicate in their communities,” said Krause. “We’re revisiting what evangelism means in local context across the globe to ensure the local needs are met to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Krause emphasized UMCOM is working to give more support to serving thechurch globally, “representing all its faces and voices.”

“We are building out all of our communication channels to be multilingual and reflect the cultural contexts of the church,” said Krause. “Our vision is to change the world by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As communicators, it is our privilege to tell the stories of those who are indeed changing the world.”

Krause said many of these changes are being rolled out now or will be in the coming year. But he said the work and talents of communicators across the denomination are being noticed and making a difference in people’s lives.

“As we share stories of God’s grace, communication has the power to connect people with hope. And that is something that will never change.”

See video of Krause’s keynote here.
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Anne Marie Gerhardt is director of communications for the Northern Illinois Conference.
Photo by Matt Brodie.