Monday, September 26, 2005

Schramm to Leave Position as ABCUSA Communication Director

American Baptist News Service (Valley Forge, Pa. 9/26/05)--Richard W. Schramm, deputy general secretary for Communication and director of the Office of Communication of American Baptist Churches USA, will leave those positions Oct. 31.

Schramm will continue to relate as a consultant in communication as the Office of the General Secretary begins a reorganization focused on mission development. "The restructuring comes as the result of the recommendations of the consulting firm McConkey-Johnston, which has produced a new ministry configuration to be called Mission and Resource Development,” said American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley. “In the new configuration, World Mission Support and Communication are being combined into one unit for maximum synergy and reinforcement of each other's efforts. This has resulted in a change of positions to maximize the use of electronic media/web as our primary communications tool.”

The restructuring also will necessitate the departure on Oct. 31 of David Chandler, associate director of the Office of Communication, and Christopher Kearns, media assistant . . .

In announcing that Schramm would be leaving his communication positions, Medley said: “"Rich has had a long and wonderful ministry with the denomination for which we are extremely grateful. Furthermore, he has exemplified on our staff the highest ideals of Christian discipleship and service to Christ's church. It is but one sign of that Christ-like character that as we strategized the new configuration he advocated for an alignment that eliminated his own position. We will miss Rich's contributions to our common life as a full-time staff, but we will continue to enjoy his working with us as a consultant on key writing and other projects.”

American Baptist News Service, September 26, 2005

The departure of long time director of the Office of Communication represents a unique opportunity for greater openness by the denomination in representing itself to the public. During Richard Schramm’s tenure, press relations were tightly controlled and information was metered so that actual news was sometimes buried amid the words when it did not agree with the prevailing position of the denomination. Unlike some other Christian bodies which openly discuss differing points of view, ABCUSA has often presented itself to the world in monolithic ways without many dissenting voices.

When the Michigan region board voted nearly unanimously to recommend the abolition of the Office of the General Secretary and the General Board of the ABCUSA, the ABC News Service reported:

“The General Board also received messages of concern from . . . the region board of the ABC of Michigan, which, among other concerns, calls for “the establishment of a task force to (a) examine the nature of our present cultures and the impact of postmodernism and (b) assess implications for potential organizational change for the ABCUSA . . .”

While the Michigan board did call for “potential organizational change for the ABCUSA,” the rather colorless report did more to obscure the truth than to report accurately to readers the burden of the actual action.

As Dr. Medley proceeds with some of the restructuring recommendations by the consulting firm McConkey-Johnston, including the creation of a new ministry configuration to be called Mission and Resource Development, we can only hope that the future will include a renewed commitment to openness and full disclosure.

1 comment:

Glenn Layne said...

The ABC communications office, for years, has been this miscommunications office, a kind of Baptist Pravda.