Editor named for new Michigan publication

OKEMOS, Mich. –The Michigan Area Communications Task Force announced today (Wednesday, Dec. 23) that RJ Walters has been named the editor of the new Michigan Area newspaper, which will begin production in early 2010. Walters will officially begin his duties on January 4, 2010.

  “The Area Communications Task Force is very pleased about the selection of RJ Walters as the editor of our new Michigan Area edition of the United Methodist Reporter, said the Rev. Benton Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministries for the West Michigan Conference. “RJ has lived across the length of the state and resided in both conferences. His United Methodist faith roots, a call and passion to use his writing, editing and production skills along with his creative energy for the sake of communicating the Gospel are gifts from which we will all benefit. RJ’s personal warmth and style are attributes that allow him to build relationships and bridge across generations and diverse backgrounds.  We are confident you will enjoy working with RJ.”   Walters has spent the last two years as the sports editor for the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., a paper that is published six days a week with a circulation of approximately 7,300. As sports editor, Walters was responsible for the content of the sports section as well as managing a team of freelance writers. He also wrote feature stories, columns, and hard news pieces for the paper.   “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work on a meaningful publication for a church community that has helped shaped my life for years,” said Walters. “I have a true zeal for journalism because to me it is simply about making connections and making sense of the world we live in. I cannot wait to interact with people throughout both conferences while using my role to share people’s stories of faithfulness and service, and while also looking into many of the challenges our conference, its churches, and the church of Christ as a whole are facing. I will work diligently to help form a publication that is relevant, interesting, and thought provoking.”   Walters graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and a minor in religious studies. During his college years, Walters served as the sports editor for the North Wind, the University’s student newspaper, from 2006-07 and was also a sports writer for the Marquette Mining Journal.   A native of Brighton, Mich., Walters was active in the Brighton: First United Methodist Church growing up. He and his wife, Heather, currently reside in Hillsdale.   The Detroit and West Michigan Conferences announced a partnership with UMR Communications (www.umportal.org) in October to produce a new Michigan Area newspaper in 2010. With tightening budgets and the diminishing readership of the Michigan Christian Advocate, the conferences chose to discontinue their funding of the Advocate in order to pursue a more relevant and cost-effective print publication for the Michigan Area.   While a name for the area newspaper has yet to be determined, the publication will be produced monthly in print and will also be available on the Web sites of both conferences for downloading and viewing. Each local church will receive at least three complimentary copies of the newspaper, while each clergy will also receive a complimentary copy. Details on subscription options for the newspaper will be announced at a later date. The publication is expected to debut in February 2010.   # # #   For more information, please contact: Paul Thomas, Director of Communications, Detroit Conference 906-396-4746, pthomas@detroitconference.org   Mark Doyal, Director of Communications, West Michigan Conference 517-336-0850, mdoyal@wmcumc.org    



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