May 31, 2014

By Fred Koenig

Alright loyal readers, we’re a year into this thing. The June 7, 2013 issue of 
The Missouri Conference Review was the last issue of the Missouri Conference newspaper, ending a 40-year relationship the Missouri Conference had with the United Methodist Reporter. 
    
The relationship ended the way most really strong relationships do – one of the partners died. Our partner, UMR Communications, had been ill for some time, although she had bravely tried to deny it. I’d meet with staff there and say, “Are you sure you’re OK?”, only to get a “Ha. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’ve been here 200 years.” 
    
Unfortunately, being around 200 years is no guarantee you’ll be around 200 more. As I was sending my last May issue to press, I received an email from UMR saying they had given up the ghost, and would be unplugging the presses forever at the end of the month. I had just enough time to get out that June 7 issue, and after that the Missouri Conference was suddenly single again. 
    
Several years ago my oldest son, who was then very young, was playing little league baseball. There was one kid on his team who could hit the ball into the outfield. The kid thought he was Babe Ruth. He’d step up to the plate, send that first pitch soaring into the outfield, and start running. By the time one of the outfielders ran over and picked up the ball, attempted to throw it to a cut-off man, then he picked it up and attempted to throw it to the wrong base, then it was dropped a couple of more times, the slugger had made it home - a home run every time. The only variable was how many people we had on base. 
    
Then, one fateful day, we played a team with a centerfielder who had the remarkable ability to catch the ball in the air. Our star hitter came up to bat, slammed the ball into the outfield and started his run for first. Then he was called out. He was confused – he really didn’t understand what had happened. He had hit the ball really hard like he always did, but now he was out. He went to the bench bewildered. 
    
The next time he was up the same thing played out – a strong hit, caught in the air. Out. This time he teared-up a little. 
    
His third at bat, he really nailed it. And it was caught in the air again. This was the breaking point. He threw his bat into the fence behind the catcher, kicked dirt and went into the worst screaming fit that his youthful vocabulary could muster. 
    
Sometimes you can feel like you’re doing everything right, but it still doesn’t work. UMR had a rich history, and it was doing a lot of things right, but it wasn’t enough. I had considered other publication options for the Conference before, but not with the same intensity as I did when suddenly the time of change was upon us. After an intense but short search, we found a good partner in Modern Litho, a printer in Jefferson City that specializes in small magazines like ours. 
    
Now that we’re a year in, I hope readers feel the magazine is less of a prototype, and more of a publication you can count on. But that doesn’t mean things should become to routine, we’re always looking for ways to adjust our swing. The great thing about publications is you start every issue with blank pages.