May 21, 2020 | FACEBOOK—United Methodist communicators were honored May 21 with a virtual awards celebration hosted by the United Methodist Association of Communicators.

After the cancellation of its 2020 gathering due to COVID-19 safety concerns, UMAC moved its gala online, where communicators across the United Methodist connection gathered to watch the ceremony on the organization’s Facebook page.

Work was submitted across 10 classes of communications, with a best in class for each, as well as first, second and third place winners selected for each category. The group also honored its 2020 Communicator of the Year, Todd Rossnagel, director of communications for the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The evening’s emcees were Jessica Brodie, editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, and Jasmine Haynes, director of communications for the Mississippi Conference. Viewers heard from best in class winners via pre-submitted video.

Click here for a complete list of award recipients [PDF]. The digital awards booklet also includes links to many of the winning entries.

Best in class winners are as follows:

Class 1: Print Publication: Robert F. Storey Award of Excellence
The Advance Catalog
United Methodist Communications

Class 2: Digital Publication
Local Church Resource Guide
Sharon Dean, Brandy Bivens and Melissa Jackson
General Council on Finance and Administration

Class 3: Writing Publication: Donn Doten Award of Excellence
“Breakin’ Up Is Hard to Do”
John E. Harnish
Michigan Conference

Class 4: Internet Communications
Matt Carlisle, Steve Horswill-Johnston and staff
Discipleship Ministries

Class 5: Video Production: Hilly Hicks Award of Excellence
“Preparing Leaders for a Global Church”
Donnie Reed, Katie Tait and Cynthia Howard
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Class 6: Audio Production
In Layman’s Terms: A Town’s Resurrection Story
Todd Seifert
Great Plains Conference

Class 7: Photography: Donald B. Moyer Award of Excellence
Veritas 2019
Day Davis
Arkansas Conference

Class 8: Visual Design
“At the Table With Bishop Sue” podcast art
David Giles and Sybil Davidson
North Georgia Conference

Class 9: Publicity and Advertising: Leonard M. Perryman Award for Excellence
GBHEM Leadership Brand, 2019 Launch Overview
Office of Marketing and Communications
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Class 10: Media Presentation
“John Wesley” Sails the Amazon
Mike DuBose, Gustavo Vasquez and Joey Butler
United Methodist News Service

Rossnagel, Communicator of the Year
After award recipients were announced, UMAC vice chair Rick Wolcott introduced Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Area, who, along with outgoing UMAC Chair Mark Doyal, had surprised Rossnagel with his award via a Zoom recording.

“Words can not even begin to describe the commitment, dedication and servant spirit of Todd Rossnagel,” Harvey said in her introduction, comparing Rossnagel to Charles Kuralt and Steve Hartman. “Todd can weave a narrative that teaches, preaches and can tug at your heart and the depth of your soul.”

She praised Rossnagel for directing and educating the Louisiana Conference in new and creative ways and for being a “true strategist who compels us to tell the story in a way that is memorable and truly transforms the lives of people as they are led to a life in Jesus.”

A former sports producer and reporter, news anchor and feature reporter, Rossnagel began his career in communications as a child filming Christmas morning with a VHS camcorder and sending those tapes to his grandmother.

In addition to serving as director of communications since 2016, he is also a licensed local pastor in the Louisiana Conference and holds a degree in secondary speech education.

Rossnagel shared a piece of advice given to him by Harvey when he was first considering the job of conference communicator: Don’t say no to this job out of fear.

“What has happened since then,” Rossnagel said, “was a reaffirmation that God was one step ahead of me and had help prepare me for this job.”

Rossnagel’s first day on the job was the day after the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. A few weeks later was the state’s historic floods. He thanked Harvey, conference staff and his family for their support.

“And I am so grateful for all of the wonderful communicators that are a part of UMAC,” said Rossnagel. “This is an organization in which colleagues support one another. We can’t do it alone. We’re in this together—I know that sounds like a cliché, but it really is true. Thank you.”