HARRISONBURG, Va. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Burton Buller, director of Third Way Media since 1999, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2010.
He will continue to host the Shaping Families radio program on a volunteer basis as well as work as an independent contractor to complete a new documentary exploring peace traditions in both the Christian and Muslim faiths in cooperation with Third Way Media and Odyssey Networks.
Program manager Sheri Hartzler and business manager Lowell Hertzler have been named interim co-directors of Third Way media.
When Buller became director of the nearly 60-year-old Mennonite media production group, he replaced Ken Weaver, who worked as director since 1963. During Buller’s 11-year tenure, the Third Way Media team (formerly Mennonite Media) has produced nine full length documentaries all aired through network TV affiliations (ABC and NBC), and on Hallmark Channel and numerous other cable outlets.
In Buller's 11 years, Third Way Media has:
- Launched or revamped an additional 11 websites
- Completed a series of videos especially for youth and the PeaceDVD youth curriculum
- Produced 13 re-mastered Mennonite Hour CDs
- Conducted five public service radio spot campaigns aired on hundreds of stations
- Grew the flagship Third Way Café website from 100 pages of information to over 3,000 pages with new daily and weekly content
- Published or secured publishers for four books or booklets
- Marketed DVDs and study guides for all nine of the documentaries, amounting to more than 16,072 in total quantity sold/distributed since 2001.
In January 2010, Buller spearheaded the launch of the weekly Shaping Families 15-minute radio program, now airing on 12 stations, along with an accompanying website.
“Third Way Media is one of the most distinctive denominationally-based media agencies in the U.S.,” observed Buller, from his experience working with the heads of other communications agencies ecumenically. “Its emphasis on reaching out to those hurting in our own society reflects the Anabaptist Mennonite emphasis on sharing the good news.”
Buller continued, “It’s been a privilege to be part of this agency. Personally, it has allowed me to use the documentary film format to re-envision how the good news can be effectively shared with our neighbors.”
Productions from Third Way Media have received recognition from Columbus International Film & Video Festival, WorldFest-Houston Festival, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Gabriel Awards, DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards, The Gracies and numerous others.
In 2009, he guided Mennonite Media to a new name, Third Way Media, to more closely align the agency with its most popular/well-known brand name, Third Way Café, which provides information on Mennonites as a ministry site for the general public.
During Buller’s tenure, he maintained and strengthened ties with Odyssey Networks and the National Council of Churches Electronic Media Committee and Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, all based in New York City with ties to the national television networks. Currently Sheri Hartzler is a trustee on the board for the National Interfaith Cable Coalition, the board that oversees Odyssey Networks. Buller is currently serving on the executive committee of the World Association for Christian Communication North America.
Prior to coming to Third Way Media, Buller was executive director of Family Life Network for five years in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, helping the agency produce more than a dozen radio programs in seven languages for international release. He also heads his own film company, Buller Films LLC, which has had productions broadcast on ABC, NBC, Hallmark Channel, PBS, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, FamilyNet, and multiple cable and broadcast outlets in Canada, Europe and Japan. He graduated from Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kan., and earned a master’s degree in mass communications from University of Nebraska. Buller is married to Mary and they have two adult sons, Jacob and John.
“The staff of Third Way Media is a dedicated core of individuals who believe in its mission,” said Buller. “Although I am leaving the administration of the agency to others, my best wishes and prayers of support will continue to follow those who carry on.”
Third Way Media, based in Harrisonburg, Va. is a division of Mennonite Mission Network and provides media resources that challenge society, help people consider Jesus, provide help for daily living and assist in church outreach through media.