this week we talk with Ron Buford, the man who envisioned the controversial United Church of Christ’s God is Still Speaking campaign.
Ron talks about his own journey back to church, some of the things he has discovered along the way and what he’s doing in the UK working with the United Reformed Church.
RonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s identity-building project at the UCC married progressive theology with old-fashioned business savvy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ walking proof that faith and enterprise can co-exist in a healthy, fruitful tension. RonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work also demonstrates ways that other non-profit organizations can employ out-of-the box approaches to get more than their often-limited dollars can buy when they overcome what noted author; Edwin Friedman called Ã¢â‚¬Å“a failure of nerve.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ron brings public relations and marketing experience from such companies as CIGNA, AT&T and Blue Cross. He also has worked with several large hospitals across the US.
Ron loves to try his hand at new things and tough challenges. He had his own start-up dot com company that was covered by Business Week, Newsweek, and hundreds of publications. Business Week called his invention of the electronic safe-deposit box Ã¢â‚¬Å“a development to watch.Ã¢â‚¬Â Although operating on a shoestring budget and a small staff, the start-up managed to acquire clients in all 50 states, Canada, Europe and Japan and formed alliances with some large companies. It was an idea well ahead of its time.
Ron devised the blueprint for the UCCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“God is still speaking,Ã¢â‚¬Â campaign in collaboration with Randy Varcho, graphic designer. Buford had been a member of the UCC for more than a decade when he came back to his native hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, to work at the churchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s national offices. Laboring Ã¢â‚¬Å“under the radar,Ã¢â‚¬Â he saw that the denomination had an identity problem: the churchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rich progressive history Ã¢â‚¬â€œ its defense of the Amistad slave-ship rebels in the 1830s, its leadership in the abolitionist and civil rights movements, its groundbreaking decisions to ordain African Americans, Native Americans, women, LGBT persons and so many others was too often unknown to UCC members and by the general public. The Stillspeaking Initiative launched a movement within the UCC to claim its history, heritage, and core values, walking boldly toward the future, with the assurance . . . God is still speaking,
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a church that often speaks to the head,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Buford, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we needed to use more of our emotional intelligence and also speaks to the heart. People needed to fall in love with their church again.Ã¢â‚¬Â
as usual we’d love to hear your thoughts on what Ron says so get in touch or leave a comment!