Victor Kubik talks with managing editor Mitch Moss about his work on United News.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God. Our guest today is Mitch Moss. He's been my coworker for the past five years here at the home office of the United Church of God. He is the managing editor of the United News. He also produces the festival brochure. He's a designer for Compass Check, the teen magazine, and associate editor of Beyond Today Magazine. So he's really into the editorial world, and he's been a very good friend and a very enjoyable person to be with. He'll be talking about some of the things that we are doing with our internal publications. How are you doing, Mitch?
[Mitch Moss] Hey, Vic. Thanks so much for having me on. Doing good.
[Victor] Okay. Well, it's great to have you here. It's wonderful to talk to you. Tell us a little bit about the United News. What's the purpose of the United News? What is it? What do you do with it, and what's so memorable and your work with it?
[Mitch] Well, the United News is actually the official newspaper of the United Church of God. Actually, I've got the mission statement right in front of me, and it says, "The purpose of the United News is to cover the news of United that members are interested in and concerned about in a concise, interesting, readable way, and to provide inspirational, spiritual articles addressing timely issues of interest to members."
But then it goes on to say, and this is the part that I really think about whenever I'm working on it, and that is, "United News is designed to encourage unity and brotherhood by informing members about the work we are all involved in and about our brothers and sisters around the world. It is also a tool for the spiritual development and equipping of the members for the work of service." So those last two sentences, they are the things that I really think about with United News. That's the purpose that stands out in my mind.
[Victor] Well, in my travels to different churches, I have really noticed and have heard back how people really do value the United News. Especially when I've gone to Africa, where the issues are distributed at church, they're not mailed out often cases. In many cases, they're handed out to people in church, and I know that when they're handed out when we go there, everybody just sits there and just reads every single word. They just don't pay attention to anybody else. They just love reading every single word. It's probably one of the most digestible and fascinating publications that we have.
[Mitch] Wow, that's a high compliment. Yeah, I really appreciate that. I'm glad to hear that they love it so much because we really do put effort; myself, of course, I'm the managing editor, and Linda Merrick is of course the new associate editor, since she's been working for the last several months. But we really do try to find stories, publish stories that are of interest, that are inclusive, and I'm always happy when I do receive articles, stories about stuff like you say in Africa, or in some of these other countries, local things, camp reports, stuff like that, as well as news of people, ministers traveling, stuff like that.
[Victor] Actually, we wanted to see more feature-type stories about people in their lives that are interesting. Now, maybe tell me a little bit about just the structure of United News, because it's more than just a newspaper. It has sections dealing with what we call the "Good News" section from the former Good News Magazine that we had. Can you maybe tell me about the bifurcated news part, and then also the Christian living part of United News?
[Mitch] Yes, so like you said, it serves two main roles. Now, the first part, the news, has two sections in itself. And that would be news about sort of what the church as a whole is doing in terms of, you know, we have the General Conference of Elders, or we have a personal appearance campaign reporting on ministerial conferences or something, where ministerial member services is having or doing projects, reporting about Good Works projects, reporting about camps and Feast sites. So that's part of the news. But then there's also the local news as well. That would include local church updates, where local congregations have a fundraiser or they go out and they do a car wash. So that's the news aspect of it.
We recently took the moniker of "Good News" and transferred it to be a section of United News, and that's where we really have spiritual content for the members. The United News is really the only publication that is for members, specifically. And so I always try and find things that will make our members, who are very mature in the faith, something to give them a little bit of spiritual meat, something to give them something to think about, like you said, Christian living, something to get them to think about their Christian walk differently, to spur them on toward good works. So that's what I'd like to try and find, are articles, ones that really make you think.
[Victor] Mitch, tell me about some of the most memorable articles. What has been the most interesting one for you that you'd like to share with us?
[Mitch] Well, as far as in the news section, often, it's obituaries that really...you read them and you find amazing stories of people with these incredible lives. The March/April issue of 2016 has the obituary of J. R. Williams, from the Nashville congregation. He's a man who we...my wife and I, we've traveled to Nashville. We have friends down there. We've been there many times, and we have gotten to know him a little bit. He's just a fascinating guy, and I didn't know the half of it. I was sad that he did die because I wanted to have gotten to know him better.
He was born in the Cherokee reservation. He was half Jewish. His mother was full Jewish. His father was full Cherokee. He spoke Cherokee fluently. He went in to the Navy, became a Navy SEAL. He was a pilot. He could fly anything. He could shoot any gun. He could do anything. Then he moved to Nashville and became a musician. He played with Elvis. He played with all these famous country stars from way back when. He had this incredible life. He was the personal pilot for George Wallace. He did all these different things. And then in the mid '90s, I believe, he became a baptized member of the church. And then he lived there, and anyone who was in the Nashville congregation who talked to him or anyone traveling through who talked to him, he was really an interesting guy. So a lot of times, it's the obituaries that have some of the most interesting stories.
[Victor] Right, right. To me, personal stories are some of the most interesting, about what people have done.
[Mitch] Yeah, absolutely.
[Victor] What else? Tell me about another one.
[Mitch] Several years ago, and to this day, I'm always fascinated by our Portuguese-speaking minister, Jorge de Campos' reports on his trips. When he first started going down to Brazil several years ago, I always felt like, and he might be embarrassed for me to say this, but I always got this apostle Paul-esque sense from his stories. He would never say it that way, of course, but he'd have these amazing stories where he's flying into Guyana, and he has to travel over land, and he hires this car and the car breaks down. They have to hike in the jungle, and he makes it to this very, very remote region, and there's all these members, and he's counseling them and baptizing them.
And then you see the pictures of these places where he's baptizing them, and it's this little water hole, kinda just looks like a crater or something filled with water. I would be frankly worried about piranhas or something, but there he is in his shorts, and he's dunking these people and baptizing them, and even still, he still comes back with amazing stories from Brazil and other areas. So some of those are very fascinating to read.
[Victor] Right. And it's so nice to...like you said, the newspaper, United News, just unifies all of us and makes us all appreciate one another. Well, how do you see the future of the United News, and where would you like to take it as managing editor?
[Mitch] Well, I would say probably in practical terms, one of the things we're working on right now is making it kind of a web-first mentality. Right now, our goal is to, as we receive things, be publishing them online first on the members section of ucg.org continuously as they happen. And then later, it appears in print in the next issue. We want to be able to do that with as much as possible. We really want to make the members site a hub, a place where members think to go to find out what's going on, and for it to really be an energizing place to go. But then, in more visionary terms, my vision here is to find more stories of people, congregations who are making a large impact in their communities, in the local congregation, in the church at large, stories of transformed lives, people making an impact. I'm really just interested in hearing how we have so many members.
I'm thinking of a man who...I grew up in my home congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I remember there was this guy and he would tell me these stories about these conversations he'd have with his coworkers, and I just think back to those conversations of people who are living their lives. They're church members, but they're not afraid to share their faith day in and day out. And a lot of times, you wouldn't know it if you just saw them at church and they didn't tell you or you didn't ask how much they're sharing, and they're doing in their community, and they're improving the lives of people who are part of their life in the congregation, and they're just doing it behind the scenes. I would really like to have a lot more of that kind of thing, like you say, transform lives and making an impact.
[Victor] Right, especially since the diversity of the people in the church is so immense. You have all kinds of people, all races, and yet the very common goal of salvation is the same for all of us, and that's wonderful.
[Mitch] Absolutely, yeah.
[Victor] It's wonderful to see how God can call people of any kind, and we can share that information with us. Well, Mitch, we thank you very much for being with us today. Those of you who are listening, if you have the stories of people that are perhaps quiet and don't say very much, but have a very rich history, please tell us. I think that Mitch would like very much to tell that story and be able to share it with everybody else.
[Mitch] Yeah, I appreciate that, Vic. You can send those things to email@example.com.
[Victor] Right. And you can also go to our website to look at all the past issues of the United News. I've gone back there and have looked back over the last several years or even 10, 15 years going back, and it's really quite a rich history, a chronicle of people's lives. Well, we thank you for joining us on Inside United. Please come back soon for more.