Creative Generosity – UMCom Makes Room for UMPH
Nashville, TN – The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) with the force of crushing waves. In the last two years dramatic changes have been made to adjust to a steep decline in attendance in the churches served by Cokesbury and Abingdon Press (trade names used by UMPH).
Many of the products and services provided by UMPH are used in local church worship, Sunday school, VBS, and small group ministries. Most congregations have curtailed those activities and, for the time being, need fewer resources.
UMPH is completely self-funding through sales of products, with no denominational funds used to finance its operation. As a result of revenue shortfalls in 2020 and 2021, UMPH has significantly reduced its staff. Early on, all personnel were deployed with most working from home, an arrangement that allows UMPH to employ talented staff members who now live in states spread across the U.S. The nearly 150 workers “arrive” every morning using digital networking. The benefits of learning to get the job done in new ways made it possible for UMPH to sell its 130,000 square foot headquarters campus in Nashville. That meant the publishing and retailing agency was seeking a new location for a permanent address and base camp for operational functions.
United Methodist Communications (UMCom), a separate agency also based in Nashville, generously reached out to make room for the UMPH base camp at their facility. Working collaboratively, UMCom reassessed their own needs and made changes that provide ample room, at no cost to the Publishing House. UMPH was able to reciprocate by providing equipment and furnishings that augmented features at the 810 12th Avenue South facility.
Adapting to the disruptions of COVID-19 has prompted agile and creative solutions by many local churches and the organizations that support them. Necessity has spurred changes in the ways groups get their work done, and for some like UMPH, led to major shifts in their staffing and expense plans.
The unwelcome disruptions have prompted positive discoveries as organizations clarified their essential functions and found creative ways to operate and serve. Many have responded generously with a heightened spirit
of mutual support and collaboration. That’s been the case for UMCom and UMPH, which have a long history of working on shared projects and now enjoy the efficiencies of making use of shared space.
“UMCom’s initiative in providing space for our basic operations is a sign of grace at work amidst adversity. The United Methodist Publishing House is grateful, and our ability to serve local churches has been enhanced,” said Rev. Brian Milford, President and Publisher of UMPH.
Dan Krause, General Secretary of United Methodist Communications added, “Given our own shift to having many staff work remotely, UMCom saw an opening for imaginative alternatives that can enhance ministry across The United Methodist Church. We look forward to continued partnerships as we explore new approaches to meet the facility and other needs of additional United Methodist entities.”
About The United Methodist Publishing House
Founded in 1789 as the Methodist Book Concern, The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) is a publisher and distributor of Christian resources for congregations, clergy, and lay leaders, with primary attention given to the needs of The United Methodist Church. UMPH is a fully self-supporting general agency of The United Methodist Church and receives no general church funds. Its primary publishing imprint is Abingdon Press (abingdonpress.com), and the retail and distribution operations are known as Cokesbury (cokesbury.com).