North Texas Annual Conference asks IRD to stop using UMR Inc. mailing lists

NTAClogoRICHARDSON, Texas — The North Texas Annual Conference passed a resolution today calling on The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) to “cease and desist” using contact information obtained from UMR Inc. prior to the dissolution of that company earlier this year. The resolution was passed by the conference with overwhelming support.

As reported earlier, UMR Inc., the former parent corporation of The United Methodist Reporter, declared in May of last year that they would be ceasing operation. As a part of their attempts to pay off debts and provide for staff severance packages, UMR Inc. sold off several of their assets. One of those assets was the addresses obtained from annual conferences and congregations who used customized versions of The United Methodist Reporter as their primary newspapers; an asset which was sold to the IRD. Subsequently, the IRD has used that mailing list for fundraising and other efforts. It was that use which led a group of church leaders to propose this resolution.

Alan Heath, former CEO of UMR Inc. said in a statement last month that he believed that UMR Inc. was within their rights in selling the mailing list without permission from the annual conferences and congregations since none of those entities was operating under a standard contract, and since earlier contracts made no allowances for the use of the mailing list. The North Texas Annual Conference in now on record that it disagrees with this assertion, and is asking the IRD to voluntarily stop using the data obtained in that sale.

In full disclosure, this website and corresponding Facebook and Twitter pages were another set of assets sold by UMR Inc. as a part of the dissolution of the corporation. The United Methodist Reporter site was purchased and is operated by CircuitWriter Media LLC. Representatives of CircuitWriter Media supported the action of the annual conference, and reiterated strongly to the conference that they had nothing to do with the sale of the mailing list.

Earlier this week, Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas obtained a temporary restraining order against IRD’s use of the names and addresses.

Mark Tooley, president of IRD and a United Methodist, said in a statement:

“We are in communication with Christ UMC Plano and hope for a resolution satisfactory to both sides in the coming days. IRD purchased the UMR list in good faith because we are interested in reaching as many United Methodists as possible with information about the renewal and reform of The United Methodist Church.”

“We are committed to what is legal and ethical,” Tooley said. “Nobody is placed on our permanent mailing list unless requested, and requests to be deleted are always honored as quickly as possible.”

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com

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9 Comments on "North Texas Annual Conference asks IRD to stop using UMR Inc. mailing lists"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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James Lung
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Ditto to all the above.

James Lung
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Dittoes to all the above comments.

NJ
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Wow, did Christ UMC of Plano actually file in secular courts against IRD? Do members know their offering-plate dollars are being taken to sue other Christians, other United Methodists, in direct violation of the Methodist General Rules and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8? And all because some United Methodists who support the official beliefs of the United Methodist Church sought to (gasp!) communicate with other United Methodists, and according to UMR, are willing to stop talking to those who request no more mailings (and who won’t just throw them away)? From the UMC Book of Resolutions: “Scripture and our General Rules enjoin… Read more »
Paul W.
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I note that none of the “news coverage” of this issue can even be bothered to identify the background and purpose of UMAction (the UMC focused part of IRD) or the IRD. Also, I have yet to see any mention of the word UMAction, perhaps because that would make it obvious to the readers that there really is a Methodist connection (though as an unofficial group) rather than giving the impression that the IRD is just some kind of outside right-wing agitation group.

Gary Bebop
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Journalism is failing us in the UMC. At best we have (what used to be called) “yellow journalism,” the invidious kind intended to pick fights and scare people to death.

Mark
Guest
Jay, based on your prior actions I am not surprised you would report this, and that you would report it in the way that you did. It is clear that you have some antipathy toward the IRD. There is nothing illegal or unethical about what the IRD did. If someone wants off their mailing list then all they have to do is request it. There is no need for PR stunts involving resolutions and “restraining orders”…..please. Per usual in the current UMC, this a few activist leaders dictating what happens. The rank and file membership is probably not familiar with… Read more »
Pastor Jim
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AMEN!

james
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IRD is a “voice in the wilderness” teaching, informing, pleading with the church to come back home………………………………….

bill krill
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Prime example of what is wrong in the ‘Church’ (not just UMC). The UMC can red-herring all they want with the ‘gay issue’ and impending boogy-man of schism, but the real issue is a pastorate that is deeply dysfunctional.

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