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Conference begins time of transition for its communication media and ministry

The last national United Church News issue in September announced emerging changes in communication approaches and technologies of the United Church of Christ nationally.

Because the conference was part of the national United Church News—beginning in 1988 as a “wraparound” and then becoming an insert—the conference is exploring options for sharing news and tools for communicating among and connecting congregations to strengthen covenant relationships.

While I was preparing this transitional “Pacific Northwest Conference News,” some ideas about ways we can share the content emerged. In conversation with Jim CastroLang, acting pastor at Colville’s First Congregational UCC, more options emerged.

My role as editor and communication consultant has included content and format—gathering news and photos, writing and editing articles, and preparing camera-ready layouts as PDF files that are on the website. Without the deadline schedule for a bi-monthly United Church News, we can step outside the box. So, with the content in this file, I will begin to provide some sample options and formats:

Upload articles, photos and contact information to a web page I will offer at The conference and congregations can link to it, while decisions are being made about website software and other technologies.

Format each article and the newsletter as PDF documents that can be downloaded from the website in 8.5 x 11 or 7 x 8.5 formats for congregations to forward by email to their members, print and hand out, or print and include in newsletters and bulletins.

Send text and web-ready photos to congregations’ webmasters to place on their websites in their formats or to set up a link.

Arrange for space on the national UCC website, and upload the stories there. Submit stories to the national newsmagazine.

Prepare a bi-monthly or quarterly news magazine that compiles articles previously published and distributed by other means.

Format content for emerging electronic media the Conference chooses to use—blogs, video, e-zines, social networking such as Facebook, cell phones, computers, wireless technologies, Skype, RSS, wiki, twitter, texting, instant messaging and other media.

Initially, we need emails of individuals—in addition to the congregations—who want to receive the information directly.

At the Leadership Retreat, Conference Minister Mike Denton and others suggested a five-year communication strategy to resource churches, increase board/committee participation, share resources among churches, communicate with the wider church, share knowledge about emerging technologies and expand the conference’s technology infrastructure.

At the request of Moderator Dennis Hollinger-Lant, Jim, who promotes emerging technologies in workshops, is proposing to the Board of Directors a “framework for developing new communication strategies utilizing emerging technologies,” a call for the conference to do research and to transition to “inclusive” means of communication and resource sharing.

He will recruit a Communications Technology Strategy Team to consider electronic media the conference might use. That group will help research how congregations communicate now and seek to communicate as new media open options. At the Colville church, he proposes doing a demonstration project on how rural and small churches can develop appropriate technologies to improve connection.

How can print be available to those preferring that along with the other choices? How can technologies connect people for meetings and conversations to increase participation? How can media connect people for conversations needed to build covenant community, to share ideas, to provide resources, to build relationships?

We look for your ideas and insights.

For information or to offer ideas, email or


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