As a part its plan to reduce overall expenses, the board of directors of the UCC's Office of General Ministries decided at its Oct. 16-19 meeting to reduce the publishing frequency of United Church News from 10 to six issues annually.
However, a new online news service will be unveiled early next year that will provide more-timely coverage of UCC news through frequently updated stories, features, commentaries, opinion and analysis.
"A difficult, but forward-thinking decision was made to restructure the work of the UCC's proclamation, identity and communication ministry team," says the Rev. Robert Chase, the newspaper's publisher. "Even though we had hoped to avoid this unfortunate reality, we believe we are moving forward in constructive and creative ways."
In 2005, United Church News will publish bi-monthly editions in even-calendar months: February, April, June, August, October and December. In addition, the national setting will continue to pay for the printing, collating and postage of United Church News' corresponding Conference sections—for the 29 Conferences that have elected to participate in the seamless newspaper program. Annually, the national setting has contributed $288,000 toward these costs.
Some conferences may elect to publish more frequently, independently of the national section, Chase says, but no firm decisions have yet been made.
"We are in discussions with our printer about how we can offer each partnering Conference the opportunity to continue to publish 10 times per year, if they so choose," Chase says, "but that would entail a different funding scenario that places more responsibility on the Conference."
Chase says the online news service, in many respects, may serve to enhance the denomination's overall approach to time-sensitive communication.
"In changing times, we will take advantage of emerging technology to make the church's news, information and stories more instantaneously available with a continually updated format," Chase says. "While planning will take place over the next few months, you'll soon discover a news presence at ucc.org never seen before. If we proceed creatively, this can offer us more—not less—opportunities."
More about the online news service will be reported in the newspaper's February edition or visit ucc.org in coming weeks to see the changes as they take shape.