Publisher’s page: A momentous year has begun
2016 marks a quadrennial year in the Gregorian calendar, better known as the Western calendar and best known as the calendar you and I use each day, year in and year out.
Good things seem to happen every four years. We have the Olympics, the presidential election in the United States, the awarding of the Caccioppoli Prize to a renowned Italian mathematician, the International Tchaikovsky Competition for classical music in Moscow and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Indeed, 2016 is set to be a busy year!
Welcome to my inaugural Publisher's Column. When I took the helm of United Methodist Communications last year, I knew it would be a blessing to spend each day telling the story of God's work through The United Methodist Church. What a blessing to call this my job. The past months have been filled with much listening, from church leaders to seekers to members, to learn how we can best serve you and your needs. So whether you are a member at a thriving church, a leader at a church that needs bolstering right now or someone seeking answers to your questions about faith, all of us at United Methodist Communications are dedicated to supporting you with various communications tools.
I am honored to kick off my role as Interpreter publisher at the same time this official publication of The United Methodist Church and ministry of United Methodist Communications marks its 60th year. While the magazine has had a number of titles and styles through the years, it has remained a vital and relevant communication tool for the local church. We are proud that Interpreter has evolved and transformed through the decades and now is published in print form, digital form and on the website. We thank the existing and former Interpreter staffs for their hard work and dedication in producing one of United Methodist Communications' most popular resources. We're excited about what will occur in the next 60 years for Interpreter!
Speaking of firsts for me, I am particularly excited about attending my first General Conference as general secretary when the denomination's top legislative body meets May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Nearly 900 delegates representing United Methodists across the globe will gather at General Conference 2016 to pray, discern, worship and make decisions for the future of The United Methodist Church. It's a time filled with hope and expectation as we work to advance our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
You can learn more about General Conference inside this issue, including historical information, logistics for those attending and interesting tidbits about what will be new at the upcoming General Conference. We hope the articles will further your understanding of why The United Methodist Church gets together once every four years for this important event.
With all roads seemingly leading to Portland in the coming weeks for discussion of our denomination's future, in this issue, we'll take a look back with the State of the Church Report. You'll find statistics on membership, giving and progress toward goals set at General Conference 2012. There are articles about the Four Areas of Focus and how local churches are supporting those churchwide initiatives. You'll also find reports on emerging directions for the 2017-20 quadrennium.
With some surveys reporting declines in church membership and engagement, it is important to remember that the church is still growing in many parts of the world, especially in some of our Central Conference regions. In fact, when we meet in Portland, approximately 40 percent of our delegates will come from Central Conference churches, an indication of the global reach of The United Methodist Church.
Woven between these major features are the usual columns and departments, including "IdeaMart," "To Be United Methodist," "'We Asked...,' 'You Said...'" and "It Worked for Us." We hope you enjoy the articles inside and find the information useful for your local church and ministries. Please feel free to offer any comments or feedback by emailing the Interpreter editor, Kathy Noble, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of all of us at United Methodist Communications, best wishes for a great year! May God's peace and blessing be with you throughout 2016.
Dan Krause is publisher of Interpreter and general secretary of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.