Many Voices, One Mission: Stories We Need To Tell


Andrew Page

3/21/2018

I often tell my friends I have the dream job for a journalist because I get to tell good news, stories about people and churches making a positive impact on the people around them.
 
One great example is the story I wrote about Isaac Monts and Emily McKenna, two Connecticut Conference colleagues who facilitated a racial justice training at Southington High School. How many high schools can you name that bring in two individuals from a religious organization to help teachers recognize the racism that exists within their own walls?
 
That story has been read by just over 500 people.
 
You may be asking, “Is that good? How does it compare to other stories the Conference publishes?”
 
Well, the Connecticut Conference has 236 churches with over 60,000 members.
 
Less than 1% of the conference has read the story.
 
Telling our stories is easier today that it ever was. The first World Wide Web pages — hypertext pages that were read by browsers — were posted in 1991 almost 30 years ago. Before that, the fastest news was found on cable news channels on television, and only big, national news made it to those outlets. In contrast, last week, I interviewed a church leader about a program, and then wrote, edited, and posted a story to the CTUCC website and social media in under two hours. Want something faster? People at the Super Saturday event in Massachusetts this weekend were posting photos of Rev. Kent Siladi’s shamrock suit as soon as he walked in the building.
 
Telling a story is not a challenge; sharing the story to a wider audience is.
 
Perhaps this is due to our narrative conditioning; readers prefer stories of conflict and suffering. Stories of unconditional kindness, stories of faith groups joining forces to multiply their impact on communities, stories of young people growing in faith and becoming our faith leaders…  these are not winning any Pulitzers or “going viral” on social media. The most popular news outlets are hyper-focused on conflict: shootings, bombings, tweet-spats between celebrities, partisan power struggles in government. These are the struggles which dominate the digital news sphere.
 

But this just means our stories – stories about the mission and ministries of the churches of the UCC – are more important now than ever. Hope and inspiration are like sparks; without something to ignite, they smolder and die. But if a gentle wind blows those sparks into just the right place, a blazing fire will follow.

We, the Conferences of the United Church of Christ, are uniquely positioned to tell the most important stories of our time. Most non-profits focus on one social condition: hunger, homelessness, victim support, racial injustice, immigration, destruction of the environment — there is an advocate out there for nearly everyone and everything. But we are the advocates for all people (and all creation). The UCC declares extravagant welcome to all, bringing the love and justice of Jesus to all people. That means we have someone, some group, or some church out there fighting for, caring for, and sometimes celebrating with every disadvantaged or marginalized individual or group in society. And if I’m wrong, if we missed someone (which is quite probable), then let’s tell that story too.
 
But we can’t just put those stories online and say we’re done. We need the wind to carry the spark to a place where fire will erupt and create change. So visit your conference’s website, sign up for the newsletters, click the social media icons at the bottom of this page to share this. Share the stories you find on your social media networks, through email, over coffee with a friend, and spread the word that, despite the negatively depicted world we see in mainstream media, God is still speaking – and that good story has no end.

Drew Page is the News & Media Editor for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Many Voices
Many Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.
 



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