From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
United Methodist Web page has new look
13 Oct 1998 13:39:37
Oct. 13, 1998 Contact: Thomas S. McAnally (615)742-5470 Nashville,
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
The redesigned World Wide Web site, at http://www.umc.org, 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
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
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
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