Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 Simple Blogging Tricks That Will Jump-Start Traffic To Your Business

1. Install the Onlywire plug-in and submit all your blog posts to social media bookmarks, your readers will be able to use this button as well. 2. Put up a video with you introducing them to your blog and say thanks for visiting, this is what you’re going to get out of my blog. 3. Don’t pitch with every blog post, post content that will actually benefit others. 4. Insert a visible opt-in form that appears on every page. My intro video also invites them to opt-in and tell them what they’ll get if they do. 5. Put the Retweet and Facebook share plug-ins on your posts. The more you create a social buzz with your content, the more Google looks at it. 6. You personally can share your new blog posts on Twitter and Facebook 7. Make a video about your post on Youtube and link it back to your blog. 8. Use an article submitter to blast out your post to hundreds of article directories. The more “hooks” you have out there the more people are going to be “caught.” 9. Make sure you have a keyword in mind and have that keyword in the title, description, tags, body, and anchor text (the text that you click on in a link) 10. Make a Squidoo and a Hubpage with links back to your original post on your blog. --Erin Smith, Discover Attraction Marketing

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

United Methodist Communications

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When I lived in Mexico, one of my favorite Christmas traditions to participate in were Las Posadas (translated literally: the lodgings). Las Posadas consists of nine processions that take place every night before Christmas from December 16th to the 24th. These processions represent Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search to find a place to stay. Each night the journey is reenacted. People representing Mary and Joseph and rest of the procession of people go door to door asking for a place to stay until one family finally lets them. When the family lets Mary and Joseph and the procession of people into their house, they all celebrate, worship, eat, and fellowship together. The next night, a different family has the honor of hosting the celebration at their house.

When the procession goes from door to door they sing a song. The song goes along with the reenactment. When the procession arrives at the first house, they sing the first verse and the people inside the house respond to them that there is no room and so the procession goes to the next house and the next house until they arrive at the last house where they are finally let in to the house.

Outside the first house the people sing:

“In the blessed name of heav’n, I beg you, sir, let us in for the night, for my beloved Mary is with child, and is unable to go any further tonight.”

Inside the first house the people sing:

“I don’t have a room for you; please do not stop here, just move on your way. The doors are closed, I’m settled for the night. I will not open for fear that you might be some knave.”

Outside the last house the people sing:

“Please have pity my good friend, she is so weary, so worn and so cold. Her time is near, and soon she will give birth to a dear Child who will be the true Light of the world.”

Inside the last house the people sing:

“You are Joseph of Nazareth? With your beloved about to give birth? Enter, my friends, I failed to recognize One who will bring love and peace and good will to the earth.”

Then the people in the inside of the house welcome in Joseph and Mary and the possession of people by singing:

“Welcome, pilgrims to this shelter, let it peace to you impart. Though a poor and lowly dwelling, it is offered from the heart!”

And together everyone sings in great joy:

“Let us sing with rejoicing, Let our songs our joy convey, for the blessed Holy Family chose to honor us this day!”

This tradition helps us to reflect on how we respond to knocks at our door. How do we respond? How do our churches respond? Do we say that there is no room or do we make room?

As the Hispanic-Latino Missionary working in the Detroit Conference, I have seen the joy, the celebration, and the transformation that can happen when churches make room for pilgrims, for immigrants who are looking for a place of shelter and hospitality, for people who are looking for a loving Christian family because they are far away from their families.

Welcoming new people into our churches and making room for them might mean metaphorically and/or literally that we will have to rearrange the furniture, use some of our fancy plates and silverware, put out more food and coffee, and learn some new recipes and ways of eating, but in the end we will rejoice because we will be blessed with the love of God and the presence of HIS SON our Savior Jesus Christ.

I have created a guide for developing Hispanic/Latino Ministries called Making Room at the Table, which can be found at If you would like me to come and speak to your church about Hispanic/Latino Ministries please contact me at .

--Sonya Luna, Latino-Hispanic Missionary, Detroit Ann Conf

Sonya Luna is a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving through the National Plan for Hispanic and Latino Ministries (NPHLM) in the Detroit Annual Conference.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications

Friday, December 17, 2010

Walter and the joy of Christmas

There are unforgettable people in everyone’s life. Walter is one of them for me.

Walter was a 12 year-old boy when I met him in the small town where I went to college. He lived with his mother, aunt and two younger siblings. His father was in prison. Their old ramshackle house was behind the grocery store where I worked.

Walter would come into the store almost daily so he and I became friends over a period of time. His family was poor and he lacked self confidence. All you had to do was listen to the way his mother and aunt spoke to him and you understood why he felt that way. Their manner of speech was almost always demeaning.

In spite of the way he was treated by others, Walter demonstrated a sense of self pride. When he was in the store at my break time I would try to buy him a Coke or a snack but he would not accept. He refused to take a handout. He earned spending money by sweeping the sidewalks in front of downtown merchants’ stores or collecting bottles and returning them for the deposits. Anything to make a nickel or two.

One cold, rainy December day Walter came into the store and was obviously excited about something so I followed him outside as he beckoned me. This was uncharacteristic of him and I wondered what could be so important.

Walter ran ahead of me. As I walked around the corner of the building I saw the source of his delight. His old raggedy winter coat was soaking wet as he held up a pitiful looking Christmas tree. It would have made Charlie Brown’s look exquisite.

“Walter,” I asked. “Where did you get that?” He answered that he had bought it from the Optimist Club tree lot on Main Street. “They let me have it for 50 cents,” he said. I thought to myself that they should be ashamed of themselves for charging him anything.

“Ain’t it pretty?” Walter asked. I probably lied in response because this was the worst excuse of a Christmas tree I had ever seen but he was so proud of it.

I asked, “Why did you buy it?” and he replied, “Well, I just didn’t think it was right for my little brother and sister not to have a Christmas tree.” With that he reached his hand into his pocket, counted his change, and asked me, “How many decorations do you think I can get for $1.83?” Before I could answer he picked up his tree and ran toward his house.

As Walter ran away I stood in the downpour and felt like crying.

Compared to Walter I had plenty but I was “down in the dumps” because Lena and I couldn’t afford to buy each other gifts that Christmas. I was reminded that my pity party was so irrational and selfish. Walter exhibited the joy of Christmas through his generous spirit, although he had very little to give.

It doesn’t take a Walter to help us have the Christmas Spirit. Let us remember that although Jesus had all the privileges and rightful dignity of God, He took on the status of a servant, was born a human being, and lived a selfless life. That is the Gift of Christmas. Glory to God in the Highest!

--Jamie Jenkins, NGA Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Grace and peace to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel! ("God-With-Us")

During Advent we remember that in Jesus' time, the faithful lived with the expectation that God's promise of salvation would be fulfilled and that their lives would find new meaning and hope. As the incarnation of God's love in the world, Jesus ushered in that new era of hope.

Our Annual Conference is experiencing a time of hopefulness too! Acting on our desire to reverse decline, Oregon-Idaho United Methodists have made a commitment to make changes that will help us grow healthy vital congregations. Now, six months into our journey, we are experiencing some of the uncertainty and fear that result when things are done differently. For some, the change in how we conduct annual fall meetings has been difficult. Others believe that nothing has really changed other than the titles of some of our leaders and processes.

But, if I am hearing about uncertainty and fears, I also see encouraging signs of hope! The Assistants to the Bishop report that at the all church meetings discussions are rich and inspiring when focused on discovering a vision for ministry in their local congregation. Hearing the results of these discussions helps all of us in learning about and understanding the serious challenges local congregations are facing; as well as the many and varied gifts present in your ministry settings. This process enables the Ministry Leadership Team, the Assistants to the Bishop and me to learn how to better assist you to engage in vital and relevant ministry.

I deeply appreciate the Assistants to the Bishop who work tirelessly building and maintaining relationships with congregations. In order to promote growth of mission and ministry in the future and to continue offering support to our congregations, we will continue to maintain five districts in our Annual Conference.

We are also blessed by the Ministry Leadership Team and its commitment to focus our expertise on assisting congregations to thrive. We are prayerfully discerning how to best nurture and support congregations and clergy in trying bold new ways of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and of practicing what we preach. Our efforts coalesce around the commitment to lead us out of decline and into dynamic growth.

I also count as a sign of hope the many congregations that understand how critical it is for our future to look outwardly at the community and world beyond the four walls of the church building. United Methodists are making a difference and becoming more relevant to our calling as we embrace changes in our society and the world. Laity and clergy are demonstrating a willingness to open themselves to new ideas, new challenges, and new opportunities.

As we navigate through the challenging times these are some of the signs of hope that I see during this time of change. There will be many more! We give thanks for God's presence with us, guiding us and equipping us to grow healthy vital congregations in our Annual Conference. In God's presence is our hope!
--In Christ's shalom, Bishop Robert T. Hoshibat

God is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gifts of Great Gratitude

“…life with God is an exchange of gifts. The world, which is charged with the grandeur of God, is God’s benevolent gift to each of us. And we appropriately express our gratitude for all that God has given to us by giving . . . for the benefit of that very world.”
-- Rev. Dr. John H. Westerhoff
Gifts of gratitude, rather than gifts of stuff
Over ten years ago, a United Methodist couple from Eastern Washington decided to invite their family and friends into a very special gift exchange.

It turns out that a lifetime of birthdays and anniversaries had provided the couple with more than enough neckties, bathrobes, and knickknacks to last well beyond their golden years. Given the abundance of God’s blessings in their lives, the couple felt moved to invite their loved ones into a different kind of gift giving – gift giving that would help the couple to express their deep gratitude to God and their care for God’s children. Specifically, the couple decided to set up an endowment fund – through the United Methodist Foundation of the Northwest – to receive the financial gifts that others ordinarily would spend to honor their birthdays and other life celebrations. The income from this endowment would bless the children of a United Methodist mission school very dear to the couple.

In honor of this couple, gifts of $20-$200 continue to trickle in to the endowment they established. Today, this endowment holds over $20,000 and its income blesses the mission school’s children year after year. The couple takes great joy in knowing that the endowment will continue to grow and bear fruit for the children long after their lifetimes. They take joy in knowing that this fruit grows from the love and care of so many.

Would you like to invite your loved ones to join you in giving gifts of gratitude?
It’s easy to set up an endowment that will help others to express their love and care for you on those special occasions in your life. If you’d like to establish an endowment that blesses our church in your honor, please contact a member of our church’s endowment committee. If you’d like to set up an endowment that blesses our church and/or another United Methodist ministry (local, national, or global) please contact the United Methodist Foundation of the Northwest using the information below.

We thank God for the gift of your life!

--Tom Wilson, NW Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Advent Offering

Welcome one another as God in Christ has welcomed you -- Romans 14

Through Nothing But Nets and now Imagine No Malaria, we welcome into our Advent life little ones who sleep in danger of malaria. Your gifts insure that mosquito nets are given to children and that public health initiatives make villages safer in Africa.

The Council of Bishops met in Panama in November, a place once malaria-ridden but now malaria-free. A canal was greatly desired as a path between the oceans, and malaria was eradicated in the process of building the canal. We focus efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa for even better reasons. We do so in faithfulness to Christ, the Great Physician and Good Shepherd.

In 2009, the Mississippi Conference led the United Methodist connection in giving through The Advance, the distinctive United Methodist channel of giving. The Mission Shares, or apportionments, of each local church establishes The Advance. Through the Advance, 100 percent of every gift goes to the ministry designated by the giver. Other charities and organizations are compelled to use some percentage of every gift for delivery of the gift to the ministry. When you give through The Advance, you maximize your gift.

Our goal is simple: every United Methodist Church in Mississippi participating in The Advance each year. Thank you for advancing hope through in 2009 and for Advent generosity to Imagine No Malaria in December.

With gratitude for your partnership in ministry,

--Bishop Hope Morgan Ward

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can We Learn To Celebrate Giving?

I had the great joy of returning to one of my former pastorates recently. When the pastor said, “It’s time for the offering,” people started cheering. “Yea! Great! All right!” THAT was a surprise.

I leaned over to my neighbor and said, “Are they cheering for the offering? I don’t think I have ever seen that. I’m SURE I never saw that when I was the pastor here.” That is exactly what was happening!

I grew up in a traditional worship style where a shouted “Amen!” would have required performing CPR on a traditional soul. My first congregation taught me the joy of engaging in worship. However, never had I heard anyone cheer when the preacher said it was time for the offering.

I liked it. The offering is the true high point of worship – the time when we have the great privilege of showing our gratitude and dedication to God. While I am sure some people think it may be irreverent to cheer at the announcement of the offering, I believe it is the right response.
What would it be like if cheering for the offering spread across our denomination? If churches – even for just one Sunday – would let out a respectful cheer when the pastor said, “It’s now time to share our tithes and offerings”? Somehow, we have to find a way to communicate to our people that, as beneficiaries of Christ’s gifts, we must be grateful, generous and joyful givers. When it is time for the offering, let’s find a way to celebrate.

One of our connectional giving opportunities—the General Administration Fund—may not have the catchiest name. However, it enables amazing things—financial accountability for our church, the quadrennial General Conference where key decisions are made and much, much more. Let’s celebrate and give generously.

--adapted from an article by the Rev. Dr. Mary John Dye, Western NC Conference

For more information on the General Administration Fund, click here.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications