Telling our story from the inside out
Each Sunday, across the length and breadth of congregational life, most, if not all churches produce a newsletter in some form. In more recent years technology and printing methods have made the job much easier. Yet, the quality and impact of these newsletters is met with both quiet acceptance and tentative reluctance to criticise for fear that you might finish up with a job!
In the Wesley Castle Hill congregation, in Sydney’s Hills district, Newscope has been faithfully produced each week, displaying the same masthead on its front cover more than two decades.
It wasn’t until recently that Allan Gibson saw an opportunity to refresh the look and feel of the newsletter and for the congregation to identify itself more closely with the local community, particularly through the media. With a little gentle encouragement, Allan took it upon himself to step forward and make a move.
“I decided I wasn’t going to tamper with the newsletter. Instead, I had a conversation with Rev. Dr Rhonda White ahead of the induction of a second ministry agent”, Allan says. (Rev. Karen Mitchell-Lambert had been appointed as a part-time placement in the ministry of Deacon in the second half of 2012.)
This brief encounter was all it took for Allan to dust off his skills honed in a parish in the late 70s and early 80s when he was the congregation’s publicity officer. The result was a front page story in The Hills Shire Times with a photo of Karen & Rhonda and the heading “Yes ministers”!
While work was being done within the Synod on branding for the Synod, plans were afoot to appoint Allan as the Communications Co-ordinator.
A small team called the Communications Working Group was formed to assist Church Council in the vital area of communications. Castle Hill was fortunate with three other people having both the skills and the passion to bring about change.
Nicole van der Stel, currently Chair of the Church Council, was able to bring the skills of marketing and communications to the Group through her role at the Hills Shire Council. Having a journalist in the congregation was a real asset, although as a member of the working group, Bev Jordan is quick to recognise that her role at the local newspaper is no guarantee that something will be published.
“Allan makes sure that events at Wesley are well publicised by providing a good photo and accurate information via email. Newspaper offices are very busy these days and resources stretched so a steady supply of good community news is always welcomed. Not everything can go in but a lot does. Recently we have run stories on a program to help the elderly with balance, a pink ribbon high tea, visitors from Vanuatu and a working with children program”, Bev adds.
Peter Smith had been Wesley webmaster for a number of years and this commitment to such a vital communication channel ensures that timely posting of news and events can be achieved.
When the new Synod Communications and Branding strategy was released earlier this year, the team at Wesley Castle Hill were quick to connect with the Internal Communications Manager, Adrian Drayton.
“We have been working with the Castle Hill team over recent months” Adrian says. He added that the willingness of the team to embrace the new style logo and adopt many of the components of the branding had been valuable in helping to refine some aspects.
Just as the title of the working group suggests, communication is vital. As the journey continues the Church Council is kept informed. Through its support the Church Council is further empowering the working group ensuring Wesley’s story is being told from the inside out!
Wesley Castle Hill congregation are working with Synod Communicatons and Marketing to utilise the Telling Our Story guidelines as part of their new communications strategy. For more information go to nsw.uca.org.au to download the guidelines or call 02 8267 4304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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