Building a presence
Synods help churches connect, interact with online resources
January 6, 2012
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) synods of Living Waters and Alaska-Northwest believe communication is at the heart of the gospel, and a technology partnership between the two is ensuring their member churches are able to connect and interact as easily as possibly.
The Presbyterian Technology Ministry program is aimed at making communication easier for groups with little or no access to technology.
The program is supported by a $70,500 Heiserman Grant through the General Assembly Mission Council of the PC(USA).
Funds for the Heiserman program came from a bequest made in 1966 by Geraldine Heiserman, who was the widow of a Yuma, Colo., farmer and landowner named Lemont Heiserman. The bulk of their estate was left in trust to the church.
The GAMC divided more than $990,000 of that gift among 16 synods to encourage mission projects that reflect partnership between or among two or more synods and-or the GAMC.
Any entity related to one of the synod is eligible to participate in the Presbyterian Technology Ministry program, including small, family-sized churches; covenant ministries; and campus ministries, said Janet Tuck, communications director for the Synod of Living Waters. “Churches of all sizes have access to this.”
Through the program, access is available to free web hosting along with the tools needed to build an attractive webpage. Other technology-related resources are also available.
In addition to the financial resources offered through the Heiserman program, the synods are working in partnership with Whitworth University of Spokane, Wash.
Whitworth provides the synods with secure online space on its state-of-the-art servers, as well as access to the school’s high speed bandwidth.
Technical support and training also are included in the Technology Ministry program, which has among its goals to enable 100 percent of congregations in Alaska-Northwest to have active Web sites by December 2012 and more than 50 percent of congregations in Living Waters to have active Web sites by December 2013, according to the Heiserman Grant application submitted by the synods.
The work of this partnership is crucial because it enables those taking part to manage professional-quality Web sites that get needed information about their ministries to their communities, said Tuck. Plus, “the system is expansive. It can be as complicated or as simple as needed by the organization using it.”
Some may choose to post things like worship times and upcoming programs, while others might have streaming videos, she said, adding that more complete office services also are available.
“People don’t need to go looking around. It’s right here and it’s because of the Heiserman Grant that we were able to offer this,” Tuck said.
Among those congregations that have already benefitted from the program is First Presbyterian Church in Somerville, Tenn. It has been able to build and maintain a webpage that shares information about its faith community and ministries.
Toya Richards, a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, writes frequently for Presbyterian News Service.