United Methodist Association of Communicators

Connecting with colleagues. Sharing our story with the world.

UMAC 2017: Thursday Wrap-up

The United Methodist Association of Communicators gathered for its convention’s first full day Thursday March 23 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The morning began with worship at First Grace United Methodist Church, a new church born after Hurricane Katrina with the merging of Grace United Methodist, a historically black congregation, and First United Methodist, a historically white congregation. The congregation welcomed UMAC with open arms, moving worship and full choir—even on a Thursday.
Communicators heard from the church’s pastor Shawn Moses Anglim and members of First Grace about embracing a new story and what it means to become a new church.
The opening session was followed by the panel Embracing a Crisis: Rising Waters, Rising Tension, featuring Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, media consultant Mark Lambert, journalism professor Bob Mann, and the Rev. Donnie Wilkinson, pastor of Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Moderated by Louisiana Conference Communication Liaison Betty Backstrom, the panel shared their personal experiences in Louisiana responding to floods, hurricanes, shootings and other crises, discussing what it means to communicate during and after natural and human disasters in ways that are helpful.
Bishop Harvey stressed the importance of being prepared and being a non-anxious presence in an anxious time.
“Be ready for the response so that you can be a non-anxious presence in an anxious time,” she said. “Manage the narrative before the narrative manages you.
“The only thing you can control is who you are,” she continued. “Our response is to be faithful to the Gospel.”
Following a First Grace-sponsored lunch, Louisiana Conference Director of Communications the Rev. Todd Rossnagel explored the lessons learned in the midst of the catastrophic Louisiana flooding of 2016, including social media awareness through viral posts, Facebook and online ads and video production. Attendees learned some ways to maximize social media presence during of times of crisis in ways to provide news, comfort and help.
Popular at the 2016 convention in Portland, this year’s event again featured speed talks. Communicators chose from three 20-minute trainings on SnapChat and Instagram, mobile and social fundraising, low-cost websites, photo and video equipment must-haves, good interview techniques, Facebook Live and networking in your jurisdiction.
The evening ended with the annual awards ceremony and celebration hosted by Ebony Lincoln and Nick Ruxton. Work was awarded to communicators across the United Methodist connection in the categories of digital publications, print publications, writing, publicity and advertising, video production, audio, photography, visual design, and media presentations.
Stay tuned to the website for more in-depth stories from our time together in New Orleans.   
“They need supplies,” said the Rev. Donnie Wilkinson of Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge when speaking about responding to those suffering in a disaster. “And they need someone to hear their story.”

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