Transforming lives, transforming communities
United Methodist Communications is working to connect the human family through a global communications and education infrastructure. This infrastructure will help deliver life-saving health and safety information, enhance the church's ability to spread the Gospel and increase the sharing of stories throughout the worldwide church.
This work is being done through partnerships with central conference church leaders, other church agencies such as the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and annual conferences in the U.S.
"For lack of knowledge, my people perish..."
In countries where large portions of the people live "off the grid"--without access to telephones or the Internet--sharing critical, life-saving, information is difficult at best.
In many African countries, a lack of vehicles, roads or funds can stop the mail and communication in general from getting to the people who need the news.
Sierra Leone lacks reliable electricity, Internet and passable roads. Some areas of the country are inaccessible, and in other areas, the roads turn to bright red mud during the rainy season, from May to November.
In 2000, floods in Mozambique killed thousands of people in one of the greatest tragedies in the country’s history. Many lives could have been saved if people had been warned that the waters were rising.
On a daily basis, better communication would enable people to get life-saving information about public health issues and other concerns, said Bishop Joao Somane Machado, who leads the United Methodist Church in Mozambique.
In Zimbabwe, the bishop's office in Harare lacks adequate communications tools to communicate with staff in the conferences and districts. Phone service is limited, the office lacks computers, and Internet service is almost always out.
When the district superintendent wants to send a letter, he waits on the side of the road for a bus to come by and gives the letter to a passenger, who promises to get it to the person he is trying to reach.
“The leaders of the church in Africa have told us their ministry is hindered by the inability of church leaders and members to communicate with each other in a timely and accessible way,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of the denomination's communications agency.
Strategies for enhancing lives
In response to this great need, a thorough assessment of the communications abilities of each area was developed through questionnaires, consultations, site visits, and listening sessions with central conference church leaders. From this research, the need for adequate equipment and training surfaced as priorities. The following strategies emerged:
- Communications Centers: Establish communication centers in every Episcopal area with basic equipment for telling the story of the church. From 2004–2007, 15 communications centers have been established. Read more
- Training: Organize training events to provide basic computing, photography, and video skills. Read more
- Distance Learning: Create distance learning centers in partnership with the Board of Higher Education and Ministry that will connect communications centers and higher education institutions and provide leadership development and lifelong learning on global health issues. Read more
- Community Radio: Establish self-sustaining community radio stations to address ongoing social, spiritual and health issues and provide vital information in times of crisis. Distribute hand-cranked radios in communities so villages have access to this programming. Read more