Nashville, Tenn.: United Methodist Communications announced today that Interpreter magazine, the official program journal of The United Methodist Church, will cease publication after the November/December 2017 issue.
The action comes in response to research regarding readers’ changing needs as part of an overall plan to align and clarify communication channels for the church’s various target audiences, including members, church leaders and external audiences.
“Readership has decreased over the years as people consume information in new ways. The expense of publishing a print magazine isn’t the best use of denominational resources without a larger base of subscribers,” said Dan Krause, Interpreter’s publisher and chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “As the magazine winds down over the remainder of the year, we’ll be taking into consideration our audiences’ needs and preferences and determining the best and most effective ways to serve those needs.”
“The General Commission on Communication is committed to serving the needs of local churches around the world,” said Cashar W. Evans, Jr., president of the Commission. “That sometimes means we need to move in new directions to remain both good stewards and relevant communicators.”
Interpreter magazine dates back to 1969 when two publications merged —The Methodist Story and Spotlight. It was originally distributed to 340,000 church officials, but the circulation has dwindled over the years despite changes in design, format and content. In 2009, the magazine became available in a digital format as well as print. In recent years, the magazine expanded its audience to include active church members as well as church leaders. Even so, subscriptions have continued to decline.
At one time, the award-winning magazine was the main source of information for church leaders about denominational initiatives and program areas.
“The proliferation of new forms of media over the past few decades has made it easy to get information through a variety of communications channels, including Internet, email and social media,” said Jennifer Rodia, United Methodist Communications’ chief communications officer.
Rodia said much of the magazine’s content is available presently on multiple other channels such as the denomination’s website, UMC.org, and similar and expanded content will continue to be available there. Many of those who receive Interpreter also subscribe to another of the digital publications produced by United Methodist Communications.
The communications agency initiated two new e-newsletters earlier this year, one targeted towards members and one towards potential new church members. New communication vehicles focused on the needs of church leaders – including a website, newsletter and social media channels – are under development and will begin to launch later this year, continuing into 2018.
Krause praised Interpreter’s long-time editor, the Rev. Kathy Noble, who will take on new responsibilities within the agency. “Kathy has done a great job with the magazine, and her editorial expertise and deep commitment are much appreciated,” he said. “Her experience and insights will be helpful in determining our next steps.”