Beginning with this issue, readers of Conference editions will note a new look and the change is dramatic. Gone are Conference "wrap-around" editions, which served our church well for 16 years. Now the newspaper is organized into sections.
Our dedicated Conference editors and their staffs have served as the communications lifeline for the United Church of Christ. They will continue as Conference "section" editors.
We also have made an editorial shift, with more "good news" about local churches, youth and ministry initiatives happening across the United Church of Christ. Oh sure, the hot button issues are still with us, but most of what happens in our churches is not controversial per se, but transforming. It is this transformational dimension of our life together that we will feature more explicitly in the months to come.
Less visible, but no less important, United Church News is now free to anyone who wants it. We also have consolidated our list management in order to serve readers and Conferences more efficiently.
Why have we done this? Three reasons.
First, the organization of the paper makes it more readable. In the past, readers weren't sure where national news ended and Conference news began, or what was news and what was advertising. Now those distinctions will be clear.
Second, this plan gives us a common periodical throughout the church, one that strengthens our links to one another, is easier to recognize and identify with, and is more attractive to advertisers. By making it free, we hope to dramatically increase our readership.
We are confident that as more members know about the mission and ministry of the United Church of Christ, the deeper will be their support and the more pride they will take in both our denomination's legacy and its promise.
Third, by our readers funding this communication ministry, we will decrease the dependence on Our Church's Wider Mission funds to the point where this ministry may become self-sustaining. This will free current dollars for other communication ministries ? increasingly expensive but also increasingly important as we move deeper into the digital age.
So, thanks for your continuing support. We are glad that you are on board in this inaugural moment. Sign up your friends; remember, it's free! Let us know how we're doing.
We look forward to this new era in the life of United Church News.
The Rev. Robert Chase is publisher of United Church News and executive of the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry.