The United Methodist Church will share its “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” messages with a wider audience in 2005-08. But it will have to do so with less money than proposed.
Delegates to General Conference, the church’s top legislative body, overwhelmingly approved May 5 a proposal from United Methodist Communications to expand its successful media effort. The vote paved the way for the denomination’s communications agency to add 18 weeks of additional airings of denominational TV advertising to its established schedule and to develop a youth component.
However, the amount of funding made available for the core TV advertising was reduced from a proposed $33.5 million to $22 million. Proponents of the increased airings argued that inflation had significantly reduced the amount of time that can be bought with the funds.
The youth strategy survived with its proposed $5.4 million funding intact. A proposal to reduce the amount to $3 million in view of tight finances was narrowly defeated by a vote of 488-440.
All requests for funds will be reviewed by the Council on Finance and Administration. That fiscal agency will present its budget recommendations for all general church funds to the May 8 closing plenary session for final action.
Delegates also defeated a proposed amendment that would have allowed shifting funds among the youth strategy, an expanded core program of television advertising and a communications initiative in churches outside the United States.
Sue Mullins, Corwith, Iowa, proposed an amendment specifying that no approved funds “will be used to promote the slogan ‘Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.’”
Arguing against the amendment, Mike McCurry, a first-time delegate from the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference, and former White House press secretary, said, “No one single issue defines open-mindedness; no single painful controversy can break an open heart.”
The slogan, he said, serves to “remind the world who we United Methodists are and who we can be.”
*Willis is editor of Public Information for United Methodist Communications.
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