World Photography Day, Aug. 19, is an annual celebration of the art, craft, science, and history of photography. To commemorate the occasion, UM News staff photographer Mike DuBose has shared a collection of his work and the stories behind the images.

In the lead image, storm clouds swirl behind Pine Grove United Methodist Church in Bastian, Va., one of two churches pastored by the Rev. Alan Ashworth. I’m always on the lookout for picturesque churches and interesting light. It was a real bonus to find both in one place. Reporter Joey Butler and I had been reporting on Ashworth’s ministry with the Appalachian Trail community.

Hillary Cooper, 11, gives the sermon on Children’s Sunday at Tubman Memorial United Methodist Church in Monrovia, Liberia. I loved that the preacher, a 5th-grader, had his own press entourage and the fact that all of it was under the watchful eye of Jesus. This was part of a series of articles reporter Joey Butler and I did on The United Methodist Church in Liberia.
This is Matt Hall, the 2017 Appalachian Trail chaplain. Reporter Joey Butler and I hiked with him for three days and about 30 miles of his 2,200-mile journey. The picture, taken near Pearisburg, Va., works fine on a literal level, giving a sense of what it’s like to walk the AT. But the picture has a deeper, more symbolic meaning, as well. Through his service on the trail, Matt knows that many people turn to the AT for solace during dark times. He is a recovering addict himself and I liked the underlying notion of “coming into the light.”
The Rev. Armando Rodriguez Jr. (left) prays with Dr. Dimas Hidalgo (center) and Nelcilone Broga in the dental clinic onboard the John Wesley medical boat that was docked at an indigenous community in Murutinga, Brazil. Hidalgo reconstructed one of Broga's front teeth. I love the multicultural, spiritual and medical convergence going on here. The two men were part of a volunteer medical team from the Florida Conference staffing the medical boat for a week to offer medical care in indigenous communities along the Amazon River that did not have access by road. Hidalgo was the only dentist among the group and he worked in the clinic all day until every patient had been seen. He is a native Spanish-speaker from Cuba and most of his patients spoke Portuguese. Rodriguez, fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, helped translate, comfort nervous patients and sterilize equipment between patients. Each patient was sent on their way with a prayer. Reporter Gustavo Vasquez and I joined the group to document their mission.
Andy, a recovering addict, gets a smooch from guard dog Tundra while feeding chickens at Brookside Farm, part of the Jacob's Ladder rehabilitation program in Aurora, W.Va. This was part of the yearlong series reporter Joey Butler and I did on how United Methodists in West Virginia were confronting the opioid crisis. When we arrived at the group home, I noticed a huge pile of muddy boots in the entryway. I kept an eye on the comings and goings, hoping somebody would have to head out and care for the farm animals. I was not disappointed.
Jesús and his pregnant wife, Mariana, care for their 1-year-old daughter, Kataleya, at a tent camp in Juárez, Mexico, where they and dozens of other migrants are waiting for an appointment with U.S. immigration officials to request asylum in the U.S. The young family had been living in a two-person camping tent for two months. We were traveling with the UM Immigration Task Force.
Volunteer Sumant Joshi clears debris in front of East End United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn., following a March 2020 tornado. Natural disasters always bring neighbors together to help one another.
Volunteer Hannah LaBrecque (center) hugs a fellow volunteer as they don protective equipment before the opening of a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 at St. Luke Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tenn. LaBrecque regularly joins a volunteer team from United Methodist-related Meharry Medical College in Nashville to provide pop-up testing sites on Saturdays at area churches. Reporter Kathy Gilbert and I were proud and humbled to see the young volunteers suiting up in the July heat and volunteering to help their community battle the virus. And the hug was a great reminder of our shared humanity in uncertain times.
Ana Salazar (left) receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Tabitha England, RN, during a clinic at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Reporter Joey Butler and I traveled to Charlotte to report on United Methodist efforts to help ease vaccine disparity in Black and Latino communities. I was delighted to see the shots being administered right in front of the Cross and Flame, leaving no doubt that United Methodists were directly involved in the fight against COVID.
Bob Cristopher secures the Christian flag prior to the Galilean Beach worship service, a ministry of Foley (Ala.) United Methodist Church at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Ala. The COVID-19 pandemic brought most of our reporting from the field to a halt. Among our small staff, reporter Joey Butler and I made the first reporting trip requiring an overnight stay to visit this open-air service on the beach.
The Rev. Catie Newman prays with John W. Weaver in front of a neighbor’s wind-damaged home while a United Methodist volunteer team makes emergency repairs to his roof in Marion, Iowa. Weaver’s mobile home was severely damaged during a derecho windstorm. Newman is the disaster response coordinator for the Iowa Conference. This was the second field assignment during COVID for reporter Joey Butler and me.
The Rev. Michael Gienger stands on a table and uses pliers to turn on a ceiling fan at Galveston (Texas) Central Church. The United Methodist church opens its doors to community members, many of whom are experiencing homelessness. The church provides a safe space and a variety of services, including internet access, meals, showers and laundry facilities. The historic building has been having problems with its air conditioning and church staff have been making much use of the ceiling fans. A temporary air duct is visible at right. Curiosity and situational awareness are two important qualities for a photojournalist. The church uses every available inch of space to serve the community, offering meals, showers, laundry and even bicycle repairs. When Rev. Gienger walked by with a pair of pliers, I had no idea where he was going. But I knew it would be interesting.
“Chappy Jack” Layfield, the 2019 Appalachian Trail chaplain, looks out over Roan Mountain alongside the trail near the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Crystal Caviness and Joey Butler are helping edit Layfield’s book of daily devotionals based on his journey on the AT. This photo is from a shoot for the book cover.
Steve Fleming visits with daycare students Malakhai (left) and Melody at Bethlehem Centers of Nashville in Nashville, Tenn. Fleming is the center’s chief executive director. Reporter Joey Butler and I profiled the center for response, the magazine of United Methodist Women.
The United Methodist Cross and Flame rises above Morning Star United Methodist Church in Las Cruces, N.M.

Storytelling through photography is a ministry. United Methodist Communications uses photos and photography instruction to inform, encourage, motivate and engage followers of Christ — and we are resourcing churches to do the same. These efforts require financial support.

If you believe in our mission, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the work of United Methodist Communications through its Foundation.


Mike DuBose, UM News