From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Initial reactions to suspension of The Disciple

From "Communication Ministries" <>
Date Fri, 21 Dec 2001 13:32:13 -0500

magazine publication
Date: December 21, 2001
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Curt Miller
on the Web:


	INDIANAPOLIS (DNS) -- The decision of the Christian Board
of Publication to suspend publication of The Disciple
magazine in early 2002 has given urgency to the discussion
of the present and future communication needs of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

	"I have a sense of grief over the suspension of The
Disciple.  At the same time, I have feelings of hope and
opportunity," said Richard L. Hamm, general minister and
president, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). 
According to the GMP, the suspension of publication of the
magazine compels the whole church to examine its
communication needs and to raise up new approaches to
meeting them. 

	Hamm is recommending that a communication working group be
created by the church's Administrative Committee, which
meets in Indianapolis in January.  An objective of that
working group will be to evaluate the potential effects on
the church of the suspension of publication of The
Disciple.  The group will also be asked to generate
short-term and long-term options for meeting the church's
communication needs, including those that have been
addressed by the magazine.  

	"While suspension of The Disciple will leave a void in the
Disciples communication landscape, there are many print and
electronic communication solutions to be explored,"  Hamm
said. "This presents the church with a unique opportunity
to design new communication tools and resources to meet its
needs in the 21st century." 

	Communication Ministries, a component of the Office of
General Minister and President, has accelerated the
development of  several new churchwide electronic
communication strategies, according to Curt Miller,
executive director. "Internet communication is by nature
very different than printed publications," he said. "We're
not out to replace The Disciple with an array of electronic
products for the church.  But the suspension of the
magazine gives us a tremendous opportunity to improve our
electronic communication tools, and the challenge of
leading the church to embrace and utilize electronic
communication technology." 

	A component of the emerging strategies is a decision to
develop two new sites for the church on the World Wide Web.
One site will retain the familiar web address of  By the end of February, that site will
be streamlined and targeted to serve persons who are
seeking relationship with Christ for the first time and
persons searching for a new church home.  Its redesigned
and revised pages will feature spiritual information and
inspiration, the history, practices, beliefs and character
of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and practical
information on finding a Disciples congregation.

	A second site, with a distinct, but as yet undetermined
web address, will be developed to serve the internal
communication needs of the Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ).  The new site, which Miller calls a "full-service"
site, will supply and connect Disciples members, pastors,
and regional and general ministry executives and staff with
information and resources to strengthen congregations for
mission and to offer new opportunities for networking among
all expressions of the church. 

	The new site will offer new opportunities for interactive
communication. New topical online bulletin boards will be
added.  Persons also will have the opportunity to join
topical e-mail lists that will allow them to receive and
contribute to ongoing discussions of church-related issues.

	The new web site will articulate and interpret the vision
for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),  publishing
essays by church leadership, stories of inspiration from
congregations and offering opportunities for persons to
register their opinions on challenges facing the church.  

	The strategies also include assisting congregations in
procuring access to the Internet and using it as a means to
connect with the church beyond the congregation's doors. 
For example, Miller says Communication Ministries will
develop a model for setting up a "Disciples electronic
communication center" in each congregation, to provide
ready access for clergy and lay persons.  Another plan is
to recruit communication partners in congregations to alert
members to new information and resources on the web site
and to encourage them to connect to the information. 

	"We will use online, database and new media technology to
lead the church into a new era of communication
networking," Miller said.  "I think of our ministry as
renewing and extending the church's nervous system," he

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