With all of these different boards and commissions and conferences, it can sometimes seem confusing when different boards or conferences say different things. What is important to always remember is that the only group that can speak for the United Methodist Church is the General Conference. There is no press secretary for the UMC, though there is a General Commission for Communications (UMCom). This group is responsible for the website, any press releases, and for resources concerning communication for local church. They provide a lot of helpful graphic design, web hosting, and church communication plans. Nevertheless, whatever is produced by UMCom is not authoritative for the whole church.
The same can be said for the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). This is the group tasked with supporting and carrying out what is declared in the Social Principles and the UMC Book of Resolutions. GBCS has offices in Washington D.C. and they function, in large part, as the lobbyists of the United Methodist Church. Sometimes there will be a statement made by someone who works for GBCS that is presented by news organizations as “The UMC claims that...kittens are cuter than puppies”. Well, not exactly. But any claim made by an officer of GBCS is not the UMC speaking. It is a distinction that is easily lost among press concerns and the thirst for controversy. At a previous appointment, there was a comment made by an employee of GBCS that caused me to receive about 15 emails and two people leave the church. People can understandably be upset and in that specific incident, the employee in question was later asked to resign, but still, GBCS does not speak for the church but helps the church speak to the world.
We should not be silent in what we believe, nor should we act like we are alone. One of the great benefits of being a part of a larger church is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel with communications, as well, we coordinate with other churches to make sure our voice is stronger when we do speak up about injustice in this world.