From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodist Web page has new look

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 13 Oct 1998 13:39:37

Oct. 13, 1998  Contact: Thomas S. McAnally (615)742-5470 Nashville,
Tenn.   10-21-71BP{590}

NOTE: A photograph is available with this story.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -  The United Methodist Church has unveiled a
Internet site that makes information easier to find and also offers new
services, such as a monthly 
electronic magazine.

The redesigned World Wide Web site, at, made its
debut Friday, Oct. 9.

The church went online in June 1995, and its Web site has grown in
popularity. It receives 
26,000 hits daily, with about 10,000 pages viewed each day by an average
of 2,000 people.

The new site design and reorganization of information has been under
development for several 
months by a United Methodist Communications (UMCom) staff team led by
agency Treasurer 
Sherri Thiel. Other team members have included Mary Lynn Holly, director
of InfoServ, the 
church's nationwide toll-free telephone information service; Steve
Downey, a director with 
UMCom Productions; and two members of UMCom's Internet Services Office
-- Susan Peek, 
director of online services, and Danny Mai, Web production
The team, in consultation with others throughout the church, determined
that the primary 
audience for the redesigned site would be active church members. Second,
the site would seek to 
serve church leaders and clergy. Third, it would be aimed at "seekers"
who want to know more 
about the church.
"We determined that the site would incorporate information that already
exists, including official 
documents of the church, and that we would increase the number of links
to source people and 
information," Thiel explained. Efforts have been made to help the site
reflect what the team calls 
"warmth and spirituality."

"We want the site to be inviting for the average United Methodist church
member who may not 
have a lot of knowledge about church structure or beliefs," Thiel added.

The new site features a monthly e-zine that presents issues confronting
church members in their 
daily lives. The magazine's current issue addresses public education
concerns and the Christian's 
responsibility to ensure a good education for all children. Future
sections will address affluence 
and how to escape the commercialism of the Christmas season.
Since the church's first Web page was launched, the daily news produced
by United Methodist 
News Service has been the leader in visits by Internet users. It has
been followed by an "About 
The UMC" section that includes official church documents, such as the
Social Principles and the 
church's historical statement. Also popular has been a page that lists
job openings in United 
Methodist churches, schools and regional offices. Other online
information includes Judicial 
Council decisions, annual conference addresses, phone numbers and links
to church Web sites. 
More than 4,000 United Methodist churches have their own Web pages, many
of them posted on 
the free space provided by the denomination's Board of Global

One of the most noticeable changes in the redesigned site, Thiel said,
is the "About The UMC" 
section organized by Holly. 

Based on her experience with InfoServ callers, Holly said, "United
Methodists have well-
organized, basic, and beautifully written documents about our
denomination and faith. We 
wanted to make it easy for Internet users to know first that this
information exists and then to be 
able to find what they are looking for without a lot of time or

The section uses common terms, such as "policy statements", to direct
users to the Social 
Principles section. Once in that section, readers will find the
statements organized with referrals 
to related sections from the Book of Resolutions. Each section has a
link to a general agency staff 
person's e-mail or postal address for feedback or information requests.

New "Faith in Action" and "Church Leadership" sections include contacts
for people looking for 
the social and missional aspects of the denomination and for help in
becoming stronger leaders 
and more effective congregations. Faith in Action shows how members put
their faith to work in 
missions, church unity, countering racism and sexism, and peace and
justice issues. Links are 
provided to churchwide agency staff  and programs, as well as to
regional projects on the related 
issues. Church Leadership uses a nurture, outreach and witness model to
organize local church 
work areas and to establish links to staff contacts and Web sites with
related information.

The church Web site will provide complete information on the 2000
General Conference in 
Cleveland, when the denomination's top legislative body meets, and on
the election and 
assignment of bishops at the five U.S. jurisdictional conferences in
July 2000.

United Methodist News Service
Releases and photos also available at

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