Communications team responds to conference needs, financial realities

Communications team responds to conference needs, financial realities


The Call is not going away, but it is changing.

In January 2011, The Call will publish its last newspaper.

The action coincides with the implementation of “direct invoicing” and “tithe-based apportionments” – major changes in the way Holston Conference manages finances.

Subscribers to The Call2 e-newsletter will continue to receive free editions by e-mail each week. In addition, a new monthly newsletter will be created and posted online for free public download. Surviving spouses of deceased pastors will receive the newsletter free through postal mail.

The decision to cease printing and mailing the tabloid newspaper will save money and re-focus conference resources on communication modes that are economical, faster, and used by more readers, according to the Rev. Ron Matthews, director of communications, and Larry Martin, chair of the Communications Commission.

Eliminating the newspaper from the conference budget will save at least $20,000 annually in paper and postage costs, Matthews and Martin said. Only 30 readers currently pay for their subscriptions ($15 annually). The remaining 4,900 subscribers – which includes all clergy and some lay members – receive newspapers paid through the conference budget.

The Call2 is currently e-mailed to about 7,700 subscribers, costing the conference less than $1,000 annually for an email marketing account. About 1,500 readers are “subscribers” to The Call on Facebook, without cost to the conference (except for staff and equipment). A goal is to communicate to a much higher percentage of Holston’s 166,000 total members of 899 churches, which is most realistic through online channels, Matthews and Martin said.

Since The Call2 e-news was launched in 2008 – and the newspaper reduced in frequency from bi-weekly to monthly – the conference has saved about $20,000 annually in postage and paper. The newspaper currently includes the most critical news appearing in the weekly e-newsletter, but not all, because newsprint space is limited while online space is unlimited. In addition, some news is outdated by the time the newspaper is published at the beginning of each month.

A new monthly newsletter –with critical news only – will be available for free download at or through the e-newsletter. Churches may print the legal-size newsletter for members who do not receive Holston news online. Surviving spouses of deceased clergy will receive the monthly newsletter through postal mail because few have access to e-mail. Most Holston members do have e-mail accounts, data shows, although lay member addresses are more difficult to acquire than clergy e-mail addresses.

After The Call’s December 2010 edition, the January 2011 edition will be the last.

To sign up for a free subscription to The Call2, go to Send questions or concerns to or call (865) 293-4130.




Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.