New DVD resources on UM Church

July 12, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-The media distribution ministry of United Methodist Communications has released three new DVDs as the church responds to requests for learning materials in new formats about basic Christian beliefs and practices.

The Ecufilm releases include a three-part DVD to help acolytes, ushers and greeters understand their responsibilities; an updated DVD to trace the history of African Americans in The United Methodist Church; and a new video that explains the United Methodist position on baptism.

"They represent another step into digital learning and the need for content that informs people about faith in new language and new format," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive at United Methodist Communications.

Acolytes, Ushers and Greeters

California-Nevada Annual Conference Bishop Beverly Shamana provides narration for "Acolytes, Ushers and Greeters" and familiarizes worship leaders with their responsibilities.

Viewers can learn theological rationale behind these roles, but also general information such as symbols used in Christian worship and the seasons and colors of the Christian year. The $19.95 DVD provides practical suggestions as well, including what an acolyte should do when the candle will not light to how ushers should seat latecomers to worship.

Greeters are reminded of the importance of arriving early, proper etiquette for their task and assisting people with disabilities.

The resource encourages children to become involved in worship ministry by serving as an acolyte who brings forth the light to represent that Jesus is the light of the world - "a role that is an important one for you and your church" and "a first step in a lifetime of service to the church and the world," Shamana said.

Black Methodism: Legacy of Faith-Revival

"Black Methodism: Legacy of Faith-Revival" celebrates the 40th anniversary of pivotal events in the life of The United Methodist Church.

The video explores the legacy of faith that sustained black Methodists through difficult periods and "the sons of thunder" who first exhorted the Gospel.

The resource was developed by the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, Black Methodists for Church Renewal and United Methodist Communications.

The $20 DVD is an update to "Legacy of Faith," a video first that was first broadcast in 1994 on "Catch the Spirit," a former United Methodist television show. The word "revival" was added to the original title "because it means something restored, or made prominent or useful again," according to the Rev. Hilly Hicks, who provided narration.

Because the word "revival" is also a worship experience that "revives one’s spiritual faith and commitment," Hicks says the DVD is designed to help United Methodists celebrate 40 years of black Methodism in the church – the ending of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction in 1967, the founding of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in 1967, the birth of The United Methodist Church in 1968 and the creation of the Commission on Religion and Race in 1968. The video suggests transformative and restorative projects to strengthen the black church in the future.

Hicks hopes the DVD will help individuals and congregations "appreciate the rich, vibrant history of black Methodists and the legacy of faithfulness and fortitude this denomination celebrates."

The Rev. John W. Coleman, communications director of the Commission on Religion and Race and a co-producer for the project, said the update is timely because "it is history. It cuts through centuries and to points where black Methodist history intersects with the nation's history."

A free leader's guide is available in the "study guides" section of Ecufilm's Web site at

Baptism in The United Methodist Church

"Baptism in The United Methodist Church" is a companion DVD to By Water and the Spirit, the denomination's official statement on baptism.

The new DVD responds to requests for an updated resource to inform and educate all ages about baptism in The United Methodist Church. Portions resemble an alternative-rock video that contributors say will appeal to confirmation-age youth.

"The examples will illustrate the diversity of our United Methodist Church such as ethnicity, size of congregation and so forth, but it will also show an amazing degree of commonality around our core beliefs and practices of baptism," said the Rev. Ed Phillips, a consultant to the project and associate professor at United Methodist-related Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C.

The $79.95 DVD includes five segments for children, youth and adults that define the meaning of baptism, the understanding of baptism and why the practice has changed over time.

"Our understanding and practices have changed because we Christians tend to fall into cycles of forgetting and remembering," Phillips said.

The church is trying to "remember the meanings of our sacraments because, frankly, many of us had forgotten how central they are to the Christian life," he said, noting that the meaning of baptism also changes as Christians grow in discipleship.

"It is clear that when the church has a more biblical and theologically profound understanding of the purpose of baptism, we also tend to be more demonstrative in our practices of baptism," Phillips said.

The DVD urges United Methodists to use abundant amounts of water for baptism – preferably immersion – when possible. "This does not mean that more water makes baptism more valid," Phillips said. However, it does mean that immersion and pouring are richer, more dramatic, practices for expressing the importance of baptism in the church.

The DVD explores the changing practices of preparation for baptism, the meaning of baptismal renewal, the living out of our baptismal covenant, and other practical and theological issues.

A free leader's guide is available through Ecufilm (

Digital learning

Hollon said the value of Ecufilm to mainline communions "is that it can listen broadly to needs and aggregate content in a way that is helpful to a wide range of needs."

A service of United Methodist Communications, Ecufilm serves the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., Catholic Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ and The United Methodist Church. It provides an extensive selection of audio and visual materials and products for Sunday school, Bible studies and group and class discussions.

DVDs may be ordered online at E-mail orders can be sent to To order toll free by phone, call (888) 346-3862 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. central time Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Fax orders can be sent to (615) 742-5499 at any time. Mail orders can be sent to Ecufilm, P.O. Box 440366, Nashville, TN 37244-0366.