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Editor's final assignment

Posted: December 2 2022 at 08:50 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


As I look back to April 2011 and my first day on the job as the new Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) Director of Communications, my first introduction was to the monthly print Reporter and the process of publishing it.

I remember looking over former NIC Media Resource Director Susan Gieseler’s shoulder as she made edits to the final proof to be sent off to UMR Communications in Dallas to be printed. This would be my first task and now my last assignment.

Eleven and half years later, I’m turning in my NIC “press credentials” and starting a new chapter at a non-profit trades association as a communications manager. 

Through the years as the NIC’s roaming reporter, I’ve covered lots of conference news, events and happenings under three bishops (close to four), publishing more than 100 issues of the Reporter and dozens of online articles.

When UMR Communications stopped the presses in May 2013, ending a publication covering Methodism since 1847, we scrambled to find a new printer. Without missing a deadline, we kept a NIC Reporter edition going. I’m proud the Reporter has won several awards, including first place in the newspaper category at the 2022 United Methodist Association of Communicators Awards Ceremony.

The Reporter wouldn’t be possible without Natalie Rowe's dependable assistance, whose graphic design skills have brought a fresh look to the paper over the last nine years. Thank you, Natalie!

I enjoyed evolving with the ever-changing digital and social media platforms and increasing the Conference’s presence firstly on Facebook. I remember celebrating and posting the NIC’s 1,000th “like” on our timeline. Today, we have hundreds more followers not only on Facebook but also Twitter and Instagram. We’ve played with Snapchat filters, and I’ve watched pastors gain followers on TikTok. Now, reels and stories are the attention-grabbers.

I helped roll out two major website redesigns and increased our video presence on YouTube and Vimeo, which became critical during the pandemic. Pastors became TV producers overnight and Zoom became a household word. Who would have thought we would be participating in Annual Conference and Ordination services from the comfort of our homes or conducting business in our pajamas? 

Moving out of my office at the Chicago Temple, I packed up my saved name badges from each General and Jurisdictional Conference I covered from Tampa, Portland, St. Louis, Akron, Peoria and Fort Wayne. I reflected on the challenging times and reasons to celebrate the church I love. I am grateful for the UM Association of Communicators and my time on the leadership board. Our annual meetings took me to Albuquerque, Washington D.C., Savannah, New Orleans, and Portland for times of learning, collaborating and fellowship. We also hosted a meeting in Chicago showcasing local ministries. UM Communications continues to provide dynamic resources, and I encourage local churches to take advantage of them at

I will miss telling the faithful stories of churches, laity, and clergy making a difference in their communities across the Northern Illinois Conference. I've traveled from urban to rural areas and continue to be inspired by congregations who continue to be in ministry to reach new people in new ways.

While a lot has changed in church communications, one thing remains the same: our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world! I hope churches will continue to tell their story in whatever format, whether here in the Reporter, on your website, on social media, livestreaming, or the next exciting thing. See you in the Metaverse?

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