By Amy Ezell

Director, Center for Communication

Over the last 21 months, I have had the great pleasure of traveling around the state to visit with people from our Arkansas United Methodist churches. I have learned much from church leaders and church members. I have also had the opportunity to listen to and learn from many who are not part of any church.

When I introduce myself to lay people for the first time, I usually must also explain what the Conference is and then also explain what I do for the Conference. I was shocked at first that so many lay people did not understand the purpose of the Conference Centers and that we even exist.

While planning for the new year, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share the incredible discipleship support that the Centers offer to each and every Arkansas United Methodist.

I am beginning this series with a spotlight on the Arkansas Conference Center for Communication.

The Rev. Dr. Michelle Morris, shared a devotional with the Center for Communication team a few weeks ago about the importance of communication in the Bible. Beginning in Genesis 1:3, “God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.” God used communication by speaking throughout the entire first chapter of Genesis.

The Center for Communication is made up of six professionals with varied roles. Our team works directly to support the Bishop, the Center for Administrative Services, the Center for Multiplying Disciples, the Center for Connectional Ministry and its Ministry Coordinators, the District Superintendents and Administrators, the Arkansas Conference Communication Commission, the Board of Ordained Ministry, the clergy for all local churches, and lay leaders for all local churches.

Caleb Hennington is the Digital Content Editor and has been with the ARUMC for 20 months.

He manages the multi-award-winning Arkansas United Methodist: Living Our Faith online magazine that is published each month. This includes writing and gathering stories, photography, layout design, publication marketing, engagement analytics and advertising clientele. Caleb manages the outgoing email prayer requests, obituaries, press releases to secular media, and event engagement marketing (sign up for a Conference-sponsored event and you will see how cool this is). He reports on all of the major events, including Annual Conference and General Conference. He plays a very important role in supporting social media, videography content and overall communication strategy.

Day Davis is the Social Media Specialist and has also been with the ARUMC for 20 months.

Day manages all of the social media platforms for the ARUMC that includes the main ARUMC Facebook page, ARUMC News Facebook page, ARUMC Instagram, ARUMC Twitter, ARUMC YouTube and 200K Reasons Instagram. She manages the weekly email newsletter that is distributed to approximately 6,700 individuals and also provides onsite training to local churches on developing an effective newsletter through email. Day manages all of the communication project “traffic” such as printing, media buys, and event promotion planning. She is also our lead in-house graphic designer. In 2018, she developed the ARUMC Social Media Principles that have been utilized and promoted on a national platform by COSROW.

Jacob Turner is the ARUMC Communication Liaison and Website Developer.

In 2018, Jacob built the award-winning ARUMC website. He manages the hosting services for local churches and provides training for local churches in website maintenance and web marketing. Jacob serves as our local church liaison and has worked with more than 40 Arkansas churches over the last six months to build effective communication strategies. These “communication audits” are conducted onsite and include the church staff to identify any opportunities for improvement in communication and marketing practices. Ask anyone who has been through a communication audit for their church and they will tell you how valuable this is for building and streamlining their internal and external communications.

The Rev. Dr. Michelle Morris is the CouRSe Coordinator. She is an Elder in Full Connection, has authored numerous publications, served in an adviser/professor role for numerous universities and has served as a Circuit Elder, Pastor and Associate Pastor. Michelle is appointed to the Center for Multiplying Disciples but is on loan to the Center for Communication due to the transition of the online learning system project ownership.

Michelle announced the launch of CouRSe (Congregation Resourcing System) at the 2019 Arkansas Annual Conference thanks to a valuable partnership with the United Methodist Foundation. This discipleship tool has been able to serve more than 500 people in 2019 with a variety of courses to enhance and equip local churches. Michelle manages the catalog of courses offered and works with local churches to determine needs for education. She coordinates each course including research, video and content, based upon preset goals and manages the analytics of CouRSe to better the program in its entirety.

Christina Choh is the Videographer for the ARUMC. Joining the Conference as an intern during the summer of 2019, Christina is experienced in full video production and graphic design project management.

Christina has served as the lead videographer for more than 30 video projects in 2019, including many offsite shoots that involved overcoming weather, sound and lighting barriers. She has also provided design work for various Conference-sponsored events throughout the year.

Saying that I am blessed to work with these aforementioned communication pros is an understatement. They inspire me every day by their passionate work ethic and dedication for doing things right.

As the Director of the ARUMC Center for Communication, I work directly with the Bishop on overall messaging for the Conference and strategic campaigns that enhance the Conference trajectory. I have the honor of serving on the ARUMC Cabinet that includes Bishop Mueller, all of the District Superintendents, Center Directors and Lay Leader, Karon Mann.

I am the Chief Media Officer for the Conference. I work directly with local and national media for our Bishop, districts and local churches, as needed. I work with the Bishop on the ARUMC Crisis Communication Team and provide media training/coaching and crisis communication training to leaders across the Arkansas connection. I recently served as a media spokesperson for the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

As the Center Director, I manage our team of communication professionals. I coach on streamlined strategy and integration of all platforms to promote the Conference trajectory. I am most proud that we have been able to stay laser-focused with the Bishop’s and Conference messaging and also incorporate training for local churches as an added priority.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about the ARUMC Center for Communication. I also hope you understand that we are here to support the local church – no matter the size – improve its communication strategies to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world!

This article is the first of a four-part series that will highlight the Center for Administrative Services, the Center for Communication, the Center for Connectional Ministries and the Center for Multiplying Disciples.