The communications department of the American Baptist Churches USA is shutting down as part of a reorganization of the denominational offices in Valley Forge, Pa.

Richard Schramm, who has acted as the spokesman for the 1.5 million-member denomination since 1996, will leave his position Oct. 31, along with an associate director and a media assistant in the office of communication.

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of the denomination, said the restructuring comes at the recommendation of a consulting firm. "In the new configuration, World Mission Support and Communication are being combined into one unit for maximum synergy and reinforcement of each other's efforts," Medley said. "This has resulted in a change of positions to maximize the use of electronic media/Web as our primary communications tool."

Schramm has worked for the denomination since 1973 and became deputy general secretary for communication and the office director in 1996. He will continue to work part-time as a consultant to the denomination and plans to pursue other writing opportunities.

His departure comes at a time when his denomination has been torn over issues revolving around homosexuality and biblical authority, but he said in an interview that that was not a factor in his departure.

"It hasn't always been easy to serve as director of communication for such a uniquely diverse and autonomous body of Christians," Schramm said. "I don't pretend to have any easy answers or any pointed wisdom applicable to my denomination at this critical time in its history. But what I do know is that we're called to move forward in living out this faith, corporately as well as individually, assured that that yoke Christ graciously offers to share is ours for the asking."

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More about the American Baptist Churches is available from their website.

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