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Amplify impact in global health appeals with a simple communication model


By Brenda Smotherman

Improving global health is one of the denomination’s Four Areas of Focus. As such, it calls all United Methodists to play a role. Church leaders are also tasked with using communication tactics to educate other members on how they can participate.

No matter the health issue, these simple steps will help you inform others about the importance of involvement in global health initiatives and concerns. For this exercise, we’ll be using the HIV/AIDS epidemic as the example. Keep in mind that the details of each step can be adapted for other concerns.

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  • Organize a special event or plan a sermon. Designate time for your church to reflect on health issues affecting people far and wide, and you’re communicating that we all play an important role in helping solve problems and show care to those affected. Consider linking the special event you create or dedicated sermon you preach to an official national commemorative day.

    For example, host a World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) event or worship service in your church and/or community. Need help with the liturgy? The Global Aids Committee has created some resources for your use.

    When hosting a special event or sermon, be sure to promote it through Facebook and Twitter posts as well as in an email (or newsletter) to members. If your church sign allows for messaging, add this event to encourage your larger community to participate.
  • Use bulletin/app posts. Including the event in your church bulletin says an issue is important and worthy of members’ attention. Whether it's in the print version and/or your church app, using this platform to communicate about global health concerns helps your congregation to take notice.
  • Promote the associated Advance funds. Be clear in telling your members how they can contribute to help global health issues monetarily. Include the Advance number with other information in bulletins, your app, in a special email or your website to help them connect more easily. For instance, those wishing to support AIDS-related efforts around the globe can contribute to the UMC Global AIDS Fund Advance Special #982345. When utilizing digital communications, be sure to include hyperlinks for ease in members connecting to the fund.
  • Write articles to delve more deeply into health issues. If your church has a newsletter or blog, include health-related posts occasionally. When possible, make a local connection. For instance, on World AIDS Day you could share a post about how some of your church family have reached out to those with HIV/AIDS in your community. If you can’t find that local connection don’t worry, just share other resources such as videos from the recent “Breaking Barriers” conference. Don’t forget to share them via your social media feeds, too.
  • Set up prayer sessions. Prayer is an important part of expressing care for others and leaning into God’s power. Set aside a time for prayer at your church focusing on specific global health concerns or a service of healing. You can also encourage members to do this in their small groups or in their homes. As World AIDS Day nears, take time for concentrated prayer for people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Inspire members to pray for guidance on how they might volunteer or serve this community.

Improving global health is not something that happens overnight, and it’s not only for those in health care professions. It's important that all church members understand they have an important role in the process. For some that may be prayer; for others it will be donations, volunteering or simply sharing information.

As a leader, you have the ability to inspire others to act and to identify opportunities for living out our calling to help others. Find the communications efforts that work best for you and your church and start spreading the word about global health today.

Brenda Smotherman

— Brenda Smotherman is a senior public relations specialist with United Methodist Communications. She can be reached at 615-742-5488 or by email at