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New United Methodist Church Campaign Takes An Inside Look At The Changing Face Of Religion

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (May 11, 2015) — They are former prisoners, returning to help current inmates discover a new path. They are recovering alcoholics or serious drug users, heading back to the streets to help addicts find hope for a better life. And, in growing numbers, they are also millennials looking for greater meaning as well as a way to make their community, and their world, a better place to live.
Whoever they are, they are changing the face of religion and they are the subjects of a new advertising campaign by The United Methodist Church (UMC) that is launching today as part of its RETHINK CHURCH ministry. The campaign will run nationwide through June 14, digitally and in select cable markets.
“We believe that church can happen anywhere there is a need,” said Sherri Thiel, interim chief executive of United Methodist Communications, the denomination’s communications agency. “We have to go outside our churches to transform the world. Creating change is about putting our faith into
According to Thiel, the idea of rethinking church dates back to the church’s founder, John Wesley. 
“Even back then, church was about working to help those who need it most,” Thiel said. “Service is at the core of our faith. Today, we see many individuals helped by United Methodist ministries who end up getting involved with the church and supporting others going through situations similar to their own. Some of those people are featured in this campaign.”
The campaign features authentic examples of the changing face of religion such as:
•    Jack Prichard — A former convicted felon, Jack spent years trying various religions and belief systems before returning to the denomination in which he was raised. Now a professional chef, he works with community projects to help those coming out of the prison system find a fresh start.
•    Gary Basham — A recovering alcoholic, Gary met his wife when both were homeless. Now, with a family and their own home, they help others find a way out of seemingly hopeless situations.
•    Matt Hooper — As a core leader of “Magic City Miracle” in Birmingham, Alabama, Matt joined a growing number of millennials looking for ways to put their beliefs into action.
•    Rose Gailah — While in the process of adopting twin girls from her homeland of Africa, Rose’s family was devastated when one of the girls died of malaria before they were able to get her out of the country. The surviving twin, Grace, is featured in the malaria spot as a tribute.
•    Marlene and David Ssembulime — The Nashville couple founded the “Raise The Roof Academy” in Uganda, David’s birthplace, to help bring more education opportunities to an area where 32 million children have no access to school.
United Methodist Communications chose Plano, Texas-based advertising agency Hadeler Krueger to create and produce the campaign. The stories were shot on location in less than a week and the individuals featured were chosen from candidates submitted from various United Methodist churches throughout the Southeast.
Additional in-depth, documentary-style interviews will be made available via social media and the website. In these videos, individuals featured in the commercials will share their stories and the ways that religion helped transform their lives.
“We believe this campaign speaks to a paradigm shift about the concept of church, one that millennials and others are embracing,” said Jennifer Rodia, Senior Director of Communications & Brand Strategy for United Methodist Communications. “Increasingly, they see the church as a place where they can find like-minded individuals who want to put their beliefs into action.”
About United Methodist Communications
As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, products and resources for communications ministry.


Media Contacts:
Hadeler Krueger
Scott White
Tara Hays
United Methodist Communications
Crystal Caviness