Rev. Kathy Noble and Shirley Struchen named 2023 Hall of Fame inductees

Sara Hamdorff named Communicator of the Year


October 25, 2023 | CHARLESTON, SC—Hundreds of United Methodist communicators were honored October 24 with an awards celebration at the annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators in Charleston, SC. The celebration was a highlight of the first in-person UMAC meeting since 2019.

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. Also at the event, the group honored its 2023 Hall of Fame inductees, Kathy Noble and Shirley Struchen, and its Communicator of the Year, Sara Hamdorff.

Masters of ceremony Rev. Dawn Hand and Dan O’Mara led the awards ceremony, announcing winners in each class, division and category. For a complete list of award recipients, find the awards booklet at

The 10 Best in Class winners are as follows:

  • Class 1, Print Publications (Robert F. Storey Award of Excellence)
    Discover Lake Junaluska 2023
    Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center


  • Class 2, Digital Publications
    Love God, Love Neighbor: Narrative Budget 2023
    Serena Acker
    Indiana United Methodist Conference


  • Class 3, Writing (Donn Doten Award of Excellence)
    United Methodist Ministry with Ukraine
    United Methodist News
    United Methodist Communications


  • Class 4, Internet Communications
    BeADisciple Study App
    The Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College


  • Class 5, Video Production (Hilly Hicks Award of Excellence)
    Forging a World of Peace series
    UMCOM production and content teams
    United Methodist Communications


  • Class 6, Audio
    717 Days of Faith
    Todd Rossnagel
    Louisiana Annual Conference


  • Class 7, Photography (Donald B. Moyer Award of Excellence)
    Migrant ministry in Southern Mexico
    Mike DuBose


  • Class 8, Visual Design
    The Gleaning Place Brand Identity Refresh
    Dan Bracken
    Ginghamsburg Church


  • Class 9, Publicity & Advertising (Leonard M. Perryman Award of Excellence)
    #BeUMC denominational brand-identity campaign
    United Methodist Communications


  • Class 10, Media Presentation
    2023 Lenten Study | Luke: Jesus and The Outsiders, Outcasts and Outlaws
    Doreen Gosmire, Dave Stucke
    Dakotas Annual Conference


Hall of Fame inductees

The United Methodist Association of Communicators inducted two into the UMAC Hall of Fame.

UMAC Hall of Fame inductee Shirley Whipple Struchen professionally served as a United Methodist and an ecumenical communicator for more than half a century, retiring in 2022.

Struchen began her communication ministry with The United Methodist Church as communications director for the Western New York Conference of The United Methodist Church. Struchen worked for United Methodist Communications from 1976 to 2001. In that time, she is perhaps most remembered for serving as associate producer for the cable TV serioes “Catch the Spirit.”

The United Methodist Association of Communicators named Struchen United Methodist Communicator of the Year in 1997.

She served as executive director of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) from 2002 to 2022 and was coordinator for the global, once-a-decade Religion Communication Congress in 2000, 2010, and 2020.

She is an active member of St. Paul and St. Andrew UMC in New York City where she is currently serving as co-chair of the “25 in 5 Capital Campaign” Committee with a goal to raise $25 million in five years.


UMAC Hall of Fame inductee the Rev. Kathy Noble has made a lifelong impact through the ministry of communication in The United Methodist Church.

She began her career as director of communications for the Kansas West Conference where she served for many years before joining United Methodist Communications.

She went on to become editor of Interpreter Magazine, guiding the magazine as it adapted to new challenges in the publishing world, including launching a digital edition. Later she became editorial manager of Leader Communications at UMCom.

Throughout her long career, she provided leadership and support to the United Methodist Association of Communicators, including organizing the professional certification program for UMAC until her retirement.

Beyond her professional work, she has served as an active United Methodist and Stephen Minister.

The UMAC Hall of Fame is dedicated to men and women who have excelled in the ministry of communications. Those with a minimum of 10 years of experience as a United Methodist communicator and retired from full-time work at least three years are eligible. The communicator may be living or deceased. Emphasis is placed on the significance of a nominee’s contribution to the communication ministry of the church and a record of excellence. Individual’s background may include multiple communication disciplines and also communication service beyond the job/church.


Sara Hamdorff is Communicator of the Year

Sara Hamdorff has held the position of sole graphic designer for Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship) for more than 10 years, filtering the vision of six departments and hundreds of employees down into deliverable materials.

She has worked through multiple leadership changes, hundreds of branding endeavors, movements, and initiatives, designing and formatting thousands of materials, booklets, flyers, banners, and marketing pieces.

Sara is an individual who works quietly in the background, but her work is seen throughout our denomination.

For the recent denomination-wide Youth 2023, she designed event branding, on-site banners, handouts, bible covers, and booklets presented to attendees. Other examples include SeeAllThePeople, Youth 2015 and Youth 2019, and the yearly Annual Conference booklets produced by Discipleship Ministries.

“What truly distinguishes Sara as a Communicator of the Year is her innate talent for understanding the essence of each project and translating it into visual stories,” wrote Rev. Scott Hughes, one of six people who separately nominated Hamdorff for the award. “She possesses the rare ability to listen, interpret, and transform abstract ideas into tangible designs that resonate with our audience on a profound level. Her work isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it’s strategically aligned, conveying messages with clarity and impact.”

The Communicator of the Year is selected based on these criteria: active professional, currently serving in a communications role (at least three years of communication-related employment within the denomination); UMAC member (nominations are made by UMAC members for UMAC members); recent striking achievements in communication (i.e., previous/current year); broad impact of the contribution; and vision-thinking beyond the present/immediate demands of the job, breaking new ground.