NASHVILLE, TN – The Board of The United Methodist Publishing House (Cokesbury and Abingdon Press) met at its new Nashville headquarters building October 10-12 to organize for the 2017-2020 quadrennium. The Reverend Brian K. Milford was elected as the President & Publisher (CEO) and the new board began its work by selecting Justice Cornelia Clark as Chair, Reverend Thomas Salsgiver as Vice Chair, Reverend Sunyoung Lee as Secretary and Tammy Gaines as Treasurer. Rev. June Jernigan, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Ministerial Services and member of FUMC Montgomery, Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, will serve on the UMPH board as a member of the Finance and Operations Committee on the board’s Executive Committee.
The board heard reports including learning about a successful year with sales of $61.828 million, and with a favorable net revenue to invest in infrastructure, pension funding and to meet other ministry needs. The gathering also marked the retirement of Neil Alexander who has served as President and Publisher since 1996.
The newly constituted board made up of 25 members (down from the previous 43 members by action of the General Conference to achieve a more workable size and reduce costs) worshipped, reviewed priorities including new initiatives for building digital capabilities for serving now and in the future, affirmed the next year’s budget and celebrated Milford’s inauguration and Alexander’s 28 years of service.
In a special evening dedicated to the theme of “Building Loving and Just Communities,” the board heard from keynote speaker the Reverend F. Willis Johnson who challenged all to take responsibility for tackling the consequences of failed systems and broken relationships; reminding that God calls us to enlist wherever we are in the struggle for human justice and reconciliation. Willis’ new book Holding Up Your Corner; Talking About Race in Your Community, authored in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael
Brown in Ferguson, MO, where Rev. Willis is senior minister at Wellspring Church, will be published in December by Abingdon Press.
Board Chair, Tennessee State Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark, urged the members to work earnestly to extend the publishing ministry reminding all, “From the first book steward in 1789, John Dickins, to the most recent Publishers, Neil Alexander and Brian Milford, ‘spreading the books’ has been our holy calling as we provide quality resources to help more people in more places come to know and deepen their love of God through Jesus Christ, learn to love God, and choose to serve God and neighbor.”