Awards honor United Methodist communicators

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CHICAGO (UMNS) — The United Methodist Association of Communicators named the Rev. Arthur McClanahan as “Communicator of the Year” and inducted the Rev. Boyce A. Bowdon into its Hall of Fame.

The two longtime United Methodist communicators were among more than 60 honored Oct. 26 during the organization’s annual meeting. The professional association for those working and volunteering in United Methodist communications presented 10 best in class awards.

McClanahan has served as the director of communications in the Iowa Annual (regional) Conference since 2005. He is a frequent collaborator with United Methodist Communications, working with the agency team to cover eight General Conferences.

He “brings a wealth of knowledge as a United Methodist pastor and as a person who has a great deal of hands-on experience in reporting the news of The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Donald R. Wood, a longtime friend and executive director ofGood News Television (GNTV), in his introduction.

“When tornadoes or floods have ravaged local communities within the conference, our honoree has represented the United Methodist presence in the midst of reporting on their plight,” Wood said.

He added that McClanahan is a “Renaissance person” who uses just about every media tool to share the church’s story — including audio recording, video, photography, the written word and digital innovations.

The same night he won Communicator of the Year, McClanahan also took top honors for developing the Iowa Conference’s mobile app. He  won third place for his United Methodist News Service feature “Newtown responders get ‘Strength for Service,’”which  included audio clips from his interviews and the worship service. He also took photos of the other award recipients.

“At the end of the day, our photos will fade or move into some other realm of technology and our print may become something that’s just in a museum,” McClanahantold his fellow communicators in accepting his honor. “At the end of the day, people will know the Gospel we are commissioned to communicate by just looking in our eyes and seeing that we care that they will know God’s love.”

Bowdon, who retired in 2005, directed communications in the Oklahoma Conferencefor nearly 25 years and served as editor of the conference newspaper. He continues to work as a freelance writer for multiple United Methodist publications and United Methodist Communications

Holly McCray, the editor of the Oklahoma Conference Contact, told those gathered that Bowdon served as an adviser to four bishops in the conference.

“He was and continues today to be very forward-looking in church communications,” McCray said.

He was an early adopter of digital layout of the conference newspaper and the web as a communications tool. She also noted that he developed a manual for crisis communications still used today.

Bowdon said he has seen the changing role of the church in U.S. society.

Back in 1982, he said, Tulsa newspapers competed to be first to print United Methodist pastoral appointments. Now, the church in the United States is rarely given priority for news coverage except when there is controversy.

“We are expected to be accountable. Personally, I think that is good for the church,” he said. “Why shouldn’t the church be the most accountable agency around when we have the truth to tell?”

 The complete list of award recipients

Listen to McClanahan accepting the Communicator of the Year Award

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