African Communicators Plunge into Social Media, Digital Technology

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information
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Nashville, TN 37203
www.umcpresscenter.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2009

African Communicators Plunge into Social Media, Digital Technology

Nashville, Tenn.:Twelve African communicators of The United Methodist Church are in the U.S. to attend training on communications, social media and digital technologies to help them grow as journalists and report what is happening in their countries to the global church. The communicators will gather July 27-31 in Nashville, the second stop of their U.S. visit. Nashville-based United Methodist Communications is hosting the event titled Whisper LOUD: Amplifying Voices through Digital Communications.

"The United Methodist Church is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "Now, more than ever, new technology allows the church in Africa to heighten awareness locally and globally of its expanding, life-changing ministries."

United Methodist Communications staff will be mentoring the communicators while they are in Nashville next week, and meetings are scheduled with leadership of the church's general agencies to share information about the denomination's work in the areas of global health, ministry with the poor, leadership development and church growth. Much of the technology training took place July 13 to 24 at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio.

The 12 participants, who hail from seven countries, have received training in popular social media tools, including Facebook and Twitter. Attendees also received state-of-the-art equipment such as Dell laptop computers, Flip camcorders, Canon PowerShot cameras and Olympus audio recorders to benefit their work.

The training and equipment distribution is part of The United Methodist Church's Central Conference Communications Initiative, led by United Methodist Communications.

"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 Hollon.

In response to this 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. Strategies include establishing communications centers; organizing training events; creating distance-learning centers; and launching community radio stations to address ongoing social, spiritual and health issues and to provide vital information in times of crisis.

For live training updates, search http://www.twitter.com for #cccitraining.

Media Contact: Diane Degnan
(615) 742-5406 (office)
(615) 483-1765 (cell)
ddegnan@umcom.org

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