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Michigan wins 10 communications awards

communications staff members

The Michigan Conference’s communications team recently attended the United Methodist Association of Communicators’ annual meeting, where they were honored with 10 awards for excellence in communications.

Content Editor

Four members of the Michigan Conference communications team traveled to Charleston, SC, for the annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC), held October 23-25, 2023. It was the first in-person UMAC gathering since 2019.

“Salt and Light,” taken from Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:13-16, was the theme for this annual meeting of United Methodist communicators from general agencies, annual conferences, and local churches. In addition to the awards celebration, where hundreds of communicators were honored for their creativity in telling the United Methodist story, the event was a time of continuing education, networking, and mutual support among colleagues in ministry.

Michigan Conference staff members Mark Doyal, Director of Communications, Kristen Gillette, Communications Coordinator, and James Deaton, Content Editor, attended the annual meeting on behalf of the team, along with Jack Harnish, a longtime writer who is a past winner of multiple UMAC awards. It was also announced during the meeting that Gillette, an elected member of the UMAC leadership team, will continue serving as the organization’s treasurer.

At the awards gala on Tuesday evening, the Michigan Conference was honored with 10 awards for excellence in communications in the Annual Conference or Local Church division (General Church Agency or Jurisdictional Area is the other). Creative work was submitted across 10 classes with multiple categories, with a best-in-class award for each class and first, second, and third-place winners for each category selected in the two divisions.

The Michigan Conference communications team won the following, including four first-place awards:

For a complete list of award recipients, including the best-in-class winners, click this link to download the awards booklet.

“We are humbled and honored to be acknowledged by the United Methodist Association of Communicators for achievements in communication ministry,” said Director of Communications Mark Doyal. “Communications in the Michigan Conference is a team effort, from the guidance of our commission members to the talented team of staff and vendors who work so hard to provide timely, accurate, and effective messages through print, online platforms, and broadcast mediums. We have an amazing team!”

Also, at the gala, the organization honored its 2023 Hall of Fame inductees, Rev. Kathy Noble and Shirley Struchen, and its Communicator of the Year, Sara Hamdorff. Sara serves as the graphic designer for Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship). (Click to learn more.)

Educational and training sessions were offered during the annual meeting. Two particular sessions were informative: “Embracing Artificial Intelligence” by Rev. James Lee, Director of Communications from United Methodists of Greater New Jersey, and “Information Disorder, Responding to Disinformation” by Sabrina Joy Stevens, a communications consultant who specializes in this topic and has a heart for faith-based work as a United Methodist.

Several sessions were focused on General Conference, which benefited Michigan Conference staff as preparations continue for coverage of the much-anticipated postponed 2020 General Conference, to be held April 23 – May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, NC. Rev. Gary Graves, the secretary of General Conference, gave a helpful overview of what to expect at General Conference. Then, several general agency representatives gave reports and reviewed proposed legislation. The topic of regionalization and equity among conferences and the proposed revised Social Principles, which will come before delegates, were highlights. Panel discussions with veteran communicators provided honest feedback on ways to support one another through General Conference and collaborate on communications.

The learning and sharing among peers was affirmed by inspiring worship. Monday’s opening worship at Old Bethel UMC and Bethel UMC, with a sermon by South Carolina Bishop L. Jonathan Holston and testimonies from both pastors, was powerful as listeners heard the complicated story of these racially mixed congregations and The United Methodist Church’s history in Charleston. Rev. Matt Rawle, Lead Pastor at Asbury UMC in Bossier City, LA, preached on Tuesday morning. Bishop Thomas Bickerton, President of the Council of Bishops, gave the closing sermon on Wednesday morning and handed the communicators a call to action to help write a new narrative for The United Methodist Church in the coming months.

Last Updated on January 31, 2024

The Michigan Conference