Advocate wins best in class, 11 other UMAC awards

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — Calling the wins "a huge honor" for the statewide newspaper, Advocate Editor Jessica Connor took home 12 writing and general excellence awards from the United Methodist Association of Communicators' annual meeting.

UMAC gathered Oct. 18-21 in Albuquerque to honor more than 40 individual communicators across the denomination with awards of excellence and certificates of merit for their work in digital and print production, writing, photography, graphic design and public relations. Nine best-of-class awards recognized the top entries.

The Advocate won the Best in Class writing award (Donn Doten Award) for Connor s article Spirit Singers, which ran in February.

This narrative is a tribute to the power of the Holy Spirit, reads a judge s comment. Her story paints a picture of what can bring young people together in the name of our Lord. Superb!

The newspaper also won awards of excellence for the full paper (print publication division) and in the writing division for nine articles by Connor: the opinion piece Faith and a Zipline (November 2010) and news and feature articles as follows: Campus Funds Frozen (October 2010), Mother Teresa of the Sea Islands (January 2011), Shelter from the Storm (February 2011), Spirit Singers (February 2011), Wesley Riders (March 2011), UM Pastor Shaves Head to Help Stop Childhood Cancer (May 2011), Archers for Christ (June 2011) and Out of the Ashes (August 2011).

The Advocate also won a certificate of merit for Connor s Fighting Goliath article (August 2011) about a Bishopville church mobilizing to fight a turkey farm.

Advocate Board Chair Marilyn Murphy said the board is proud of Connor and Assistant Editor Allison Trussell for this well-deserved honor, and she anticipates even greater things under their leadership as the Advocate prepares to mark its 175th anniversary next year.

Jessica s award-winning stories reflect the fullness, diversity, compassion, uniqueness and sometimes struggles of our conference. The stories come from our readers, our churches, our clergy and individual church members “ Jessica just uses her passion to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to tell their stories through the pages of the Advocate, Murphy said, noting that Connor has been Advocate editor for just a year and a half and already has garnered several other major awards for the paper, including best newspaper in its division by the S.C. Press Association.

When we consider that the competing UM newspaper stories come from all over the nation, we are even more proud of her accomplishments in such a short time, Murphy added.

Connor said she is humbled by the recognition, which she hopes will somehow help further the Kingdom.

The Advocate does all it can to produce quality journalism that lifts up the Lord in this state, and now others across the denomination are more aware of the beautiful ministries our South Carolina United Methodists are doing day in and day out, Connor said. Our hope is that these articles and the paper as a whole will inspire others and strengthen our pool of Christian disciples.

Hollon named top communicator

Also at the UMAC gathering, the Rev. Larry Hollon was honored as 2011 Communicator of the Year. Hollon is the chief executive for United Methodist Communications.

UMAC also inducted two to their Hall of Fame: Wally Athey, Paradise Valley, Ariz., and the late Rev. Ann Greene Whiting. Athey was the first director of communications for the Desert-Southwest Annual Conference and now directs communications at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church. Whiting was editor of the Southern New England edition of the United Methodist Reporter and Zion s Herald and served as editor and publisher of the Michigan Christian Advocate.

Read the full list of award winners and the Oct. 21 UM News Services story at

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