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Transforming Lives Through Communication

Staff of United Methodist Communications

Ask any of the employees at United Methodist Communications why they love their job, and they'll tell you it's the people of The United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, says it's those people who led him to choose a career in ministry in The United Methodist Church. Growing up as the son of an itinerant oil field worker, Hollon moved from town to town throughout his childhood, never staying anywhere more than six months.


The Rev. Larry Hollon
The Rev.
Larry Hollon

"In every town, there was a United Methodist church. I gravitated to these safe havens. They had scout groups, youth activities, vacation church school, choirs and Christmas pageants. In virtually every place, I experienced an outpouring of love," said Hollon. "The acceptance that I experienced in churches as a child is what led me to want to share the message of God's grace, a grace freely given, and extended to us without regard for our status."

Whether interacting through the latest technology, talking face-to-face or connecting through outreach and storytelling, United Methodist Communications is transforming lives through communication. Hear from some of our employees and read how we are working together with local churches to help support their ministries.


The Rev. Neelley Hicks
The Rev.
Neelley Hicks

The Rev. Neelley Hicks, Director of ICT4D Church Initiatives, is passionate about teaching others to use technology to improve and save lives. "Sometimes in the U.S. we take technology for granted. I spend a lot of energy telling people technology can transform communications, health care, agriculture and education to save lives and empower those in developing countries. It's most rewarding when I get to teach it firsthand to those whom it will benefit the most. Recently, I shared Frontline SMS with friends in Haiti. Frontline SMS allows those without Internet access to link their computers to cellular connectivity so they can send mass and automated text messages. When it's used for health messaging, it can help people avoid outbreaks of disease, teach pregnant mothers how to care for their unborn children, teach families how to use bed nets and so much more."


Royya JamesRoyya James

Royya James, Conference Relations Coordinator, builds and maintains relationships with church communicators and local church leaders through providing information about communications resources and programs. "The most fulfilling aspect of my work is the face-to-face interactions I get to have with those I meet at denominational events at our resource displays. I really enjoy hearing stories from those who have used our resources, organized Rethink Church community events or raised funds for Imagine No Malaria. It's also rewarding to be able to tell people about The United Methodist Church mobile app and to give out t-shirts. Seeing the excitement and hearing how the shirt's message resonates with them personally or in their communities is inspiring."


Sophia Agrarap
Sophia Agtarap

As Minister of Online Engagement for Rethink Church, Sophia Agtarap says she's found her dream job. As the human connection point between a denominational agency, local churches and individuals, she engages in conversations daily on social media with both believers and those seeking answers. "One particular project that has brought great joy has been the Lenten photo-a-day challenge. Throughout the 40 days in Lent, we asked participants to submit a photo on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook that relates to the word of the day. The response from those in The United Methodist Church and other denominations and traditions is a reminder that the work we do is far-reaching and formative in the lives of people of faith and those exploring what a faithful life looks like. I've received messages from people all over saying they are blessed by this project and those who hold this up as an example of how social media is a tool for discipleship. This is why I love the work I do."


Tim Tanton
Tim Tanton

Tim Tanton, Executive Director of Content, says he's grateful to be part of a communications organization that is diverse in skillsets and backgrounds, and is motivated to transform lives and spread the good news of Jesus Christ through communications. "We live in a hurting, broken world, but one in which God has blessed us with opportunities for joy. My joy each day comes from doing work that lifts up those who are hurting and perhaps ease some of the brokenness. Through the messaging we do, the stories we tell and the images we share, we are supporting the work of the church at every level, spotlighting the places of need, mobilizing people to take action and celebrating the moments when Christ's presence shines through unmistakably in people's lives."


Kats Barry
Kats Barry

As a photo researcher and photographer, Kats Barry has seen some of the most tragic events turn into the most inspiring. She helps the people of The United Methodist Church tell their own stories through photos, slideshows and videos. "One example was when news editor Barbara Dunlap-Berg and I drove down to Harvest, Alabama following a tornado which ripped the steeple off of Ford's Chapel United Methodist Church. Many in the congregation had lost their homes. We were at the first service following the tornado and the love and faith of the community was very visible. The people of the church couldn't believe that we drove down just to tell their story. Many had never heard of United Methodist News Service and the story and photos were greatly shared in the following weeks."

Susan Passi-KlausSusan

Susan Passi-Klaus, a Public Relations Specialist and writer, sees her work as a blessing and a reminder of hope in the world. "At my core, I'm a storyteller. I enjoy telling the stories of those who have overcome obstacles and odds with God's help. For example, when producing Broken to Peace, a small group DVD study series, I learned that participants, like Bonnie-whose testimony included depression, divorce, date rape and debt-were eager to tell their stories because they believed God would use them to bring hope to others. It's rewarding to have a job that transports you outside the boundaries of a cubicle into the world of those who are making a difference because they choose to believe."


Amelia Tucker-Shaw

Amelia Tucker-Shaw, who works on the Connectional Giving team, embraces the power of the United Methodist connection in her work. "By providing giving resources to local churches and annual conferences as they support the Apportioned Funds and Special Sundays offerings, we continue to tell the stories of how the church is saving lives and making Disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. Through this bond, we build solid relationships across the connection to continue to impact many lives as a whole body of Christ and not as individual members. I feel very fortunate that I am afforded the opportunity to work in an environment that allows me to express my Christian beliefs and be in community with others who believe."


Steven AdairSteven Adair

Steven Adair, Project Coordinator for New Media, helps communicate the mission of The United Methodist Church through online engagement with members and seekers and through audio and video productions. "Working at United Methodist Communications has given me the opportunity to help churches around the nation RETHINK what it means to be a community of faith in today's world. I am 25 years old - part of the generation missing from our pews - and I have realized that churches today have to be intentional on being relevant in their communities. It has been great to learn from the unique challenges our churches face around the nation, try to help and be able to take away some ideas that help Glendale United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. – my local [small membership] church family grow and thrive in new ways."