United Methodist News Service
“Without communication, there is no life,” she said, speaking in French.
She and 27 other United Methodist communicators received intensive training in photography, videography, Web page design, news writing and computer software programs during a June 14-30 conference held at
The conference was organized as part of the Central Conference Communications Initiative, which was approved by the 2004 General Conference to nurture and strengthen church communications in Africa, Asia and
With her newly learned computer, photography and video skills, Manisha can share information about her church and country. She hopes those skills will change lives. “Without communication, we are lost in this world,” she said.
The event brought together, for the first time, church communicators from 13 African countries for training and relationship building at the United Methodist school near Mutare.
“We see this program as a means of strengthening our communications network,” said Konah Parker, the communicator for the denomination’s Liberia Annual Conference and president of the United Methodist Association of Communicators-Africa Region.
He enjoyed learning PowerPoint, Excel and Web design and, like other participants, took to photography with enthusiasm, schooled by workshop instructors on the use of new digital cameras provided by United Methodist Communications.
“From just being a camera holder walking around, I am going back to
Phileas Jusu, a journalist and church communicator, from
Like Manisha, many participants didn’t know how to operate a computer mouse at the beginning of the conference, but two and a half weeks later, they were designing Web pages and online newsletters.
Classes were led by 15 instructors from the
Louis Loma Otshudi, director of communications for the Central Congo Area, cited his new knowledge of software, photography and videography. Speaking in French, he said: “After this training, I am a changed person.”
For some areas, particularly parts of
Some parts of Africa, such as
The same was true in
The equipment he is receiving from United Methodist Communications “will promote communications in
United Methodist Communications is working with bishops’ offices throughout
A fully funded center would include a computer and video and photography equipment, as well as a monthly salary of $500 to $600 for a communicator.
Many of the communicators hold down other jobs while serving the church. Parker, for example, works as a commercial driver, using his own car, in
Jusu said he is leaving a secure job as the deputy managing editor of a newspaper in
The training conference helped some participants realize being a church communicator can be a full-time job.
The Rev. Bruno Bobiotche of
If Jesus were doing ministry today, he’d be using a laptop and a cell phone, said Simon Gunuza of
Along with acquiring skills, the communicators at the Mutare event emphasized the importance of the new relationships they had built with one another.
“Relationships are very important,” said the Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, assistant director of communications for
“We have got now a lot of friends,” Otshudi added. “There is a unity in the church as we have seen each other face to face.”
Taylor Walters, an Indiana United Methodist who worked last year in the North Katanga Area, has developed an online discussion board that the group can use to stay in touch, and it includes a translation program for English, French and Portuguese.
As the conference drew to an end, the communicators presented a variety of projects showcasing what they had learned – videos, PowerPoint presentations, newsletters, stories, photos. The material was drawn from field trips the group took in the area.
Dauda Goding of
Part of the conference had focused on the importance of empathy in relating to people with AIDS – an eye-opening lesson for some of the communicators, who said their views were changed.
“I am trying to show that living with AIDS is not the end of life,” Goding explained to the group.
Participants said they plan on developing stories on such topics as prison ministries, feeding programs, youth activities and water projects.