April 30, 2014

By Fred Koenig

I spend the vast majority of my time working on this magazine, but one of my side jobs for the Missouri Conference is putting out Net News. It’s an e-newsletter that is sent out as-needed, which ends up being about every day, Monday through Friday. 

I keep each individual news announcement in Net News to 100 words or less to keep it short and readable for the scanning, online reader. I don’t allow attachments, to avoid being blocked by as many spam filters as possible (sometimes it gets blocked anyway). Most messages contain either links to websites for more information, or contact information. 
    
Net News was initially started just for clergy, but anyone can sign up. All it takes is an email address. You just go to www.moumethodist.org/stayconnected and select Net News. Since I’ve been doing Net News, its subscription base has more than doubled, and is now over 2,000. Those are all self-subscribers. Who says email is dead?
    
I was recently part of a meeting of the Missouri Conference Archives and History Commission when they decided they wanted to recognize the most historic churches in the Conference. Where to draw the line? At first someone suggested 100 years. I cringed a little at that. I’m not sure we don’t have more churches over 100 than under 100 in the Missouri Conference. Then someone mentioned 150 years. That sounded more reasonable. But how do you form a list? Sure, the information is out there on the books, but the research process would be arduous. It could take days. But in less than the time that it took to talk about it, I was able to put a query out in Net News, asking churches to let us know if they’ve had their 150th birthday. The next day we had a list of 25 churches, without putting any time into it at all on our part. By the way, if you’re at a church that is 150 years old or older and you missed the Net News announcement, email John Finley at jfinley@centralmethodist.edu with your church name, founding date and location.
    
Earlier in the year I was finding that I occasionally need to be in more than one place at a time taking pictures. Eric Mattson has been my go-to guy for help, but he lives at New Madrid, which isn’t exactly centrally located. Sadly, he lacks a personal helicopter that could quickly get him on location. And he is also an Elder who preaches at two churches on Sunday morning, which limits his schedule a bit. Even though he’s never turned down a plea for help, I knew I shouldn’t ask too much of him. 
    
So I put out a query on Net News, looking for additional photographers. Soon I had a list of more than 20 names of people who were willing for me to call on them. But as I noted earlier, Net News only goes to 2,000 people. Do the math, and that would mean that one out of 100 people are photographers. That can’t be right. I went to the MU School of Journalism, I live less than a mile away from the J-school now, in a town with two competing daily newspapers, and one out of 100 people that I know are not photographers. The number would be closer to one out of a thousand. 
    
So I looked back at my list. I was right on the money, of the 2,000 receiving Net News, only two responded that they are photographers. What about the others? They had been forwarded the email, and were from the real body of who we are – more than 163,000 members, the Missouri United Methodists. Add in some more whom are attending but haven’t taken the step of joining into full membership yet, and you’re back to close to that one out of 1,000 number on the photographers. 
    
The experience demonstrated to me how connectional we can be with a simple email, and also the vast body of talent and resources that are among the people of Missouri who are part of the United Methodist Church. I am grateful for the privilege of working for them.