By: Amanda Yanchury
How can a church tell its story to its surrounding community? What’s the best way to create a social media presence? Which new communication tools will help engage people and spread the message of God’s love?
These are conversations that the Minnesota Annual Conference’s new director of communications, Christa Meland, looks forward to having with the state’s United Methodist churches in the coming months and years.
As Bishop Bruce Ough said in his episcopal address at the 2013 annual conference session, technology is rapidly changing, and the ways we communicate are changing with it. Meland looks forward to assisting churches in this whirlwind time.
Her position will involve a wide variety of duties, including disseminating important information from the conference to its 360 churches, increasing awareness of the United Methodist Church in Minnesota through media outreach and other outward-facing campaigns, and writing for and editing The Northern Light and the weekly Northern Bytes e-newsletter.
“But I’m most excited about helping churches to tell their story within both their congregations and their communities,” says Meland. “I look forward to sharing tips and resources on everything from building a basic web site to when and how to work with the media.”
Minnesota Conference Director of Ministries Cindy Gregorson says Meland brings a fresh perspective to the conference.
“Christa has great experience in getting an organization’s message out to the community,” Gregorson says. “In her few short weeks on staff, she has already brought creativity and insight to our communications work and has a strong desire to help congregations find more ways to share their ministry with their communities. She is passionate about telling our story and believes we have a great story to share.”
Meland grew up in St. Louis Park and earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri—Columbia. She began her career as a reporter at a small newspaper in the northeastern Wyoming city of Gillette, and she’s spent the last five-and-a-half years at Twin Cities Business magazine, where she led editorial initiatives for its website, managed a web and special projects team, oversaw topical inserts within the monthly publication, and wrote both online and print articles. Meland has won a number of writing awards.
Meland’s technical communication skills will be an asset for the Minnesota Conference. She brings strong writing and editing capabilities to the table and is adept at developing and executing comprehensive communications plans. She looks forward to writing for and editing the Minnesota Conference’s print and electronic media.
Meland was raised Lutheran, but because her mother-in-law and sister-in-law are United Methodist clergy in South Carolina and her father-in-law is a United Methodist Army chaplain, she is familiar with the United Methodist Church and some of its key initiatives, such as Imagine No Malaria and the Healthy Church Initiative. Over the past couple of months, she has been visiting various United Methodist churches for Sunday worship in order to learn more about United Methodism and to meet some of the pastors and lay leaders within the conference.
“This has been a wonderful experience and something I plan to continue to do in the coming months,” Meland says. “In each church I’ve visited to date, I have felt so welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with church members.”
Meland was introduced to conference members during annual conference session in May and was able to get a feel for the annual meeting and the values of Minnesota Conference members.
“I’m still learning a lot about the conference and my job, but one thing is already very clear to me,” Meland says. “I am working alongside an incredible group of people, and I feel very blessed.”
Meland lives with her husband, James Warden, in Hopkins.
Meland welcomes your stories and suggestions. Whether you have a church success story to share, would like advice about specific communication-related goals or tasks, or simply want to introduce yourself and your church, she’d love to hear from you. Contact Christa Meland at (612) 230-6132.
Amanda Yanchury is communications assistant for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church