Fort Worth launches ambitious media strategy

The Diocese of Fort Worth, recovering from the troubles with former leaders who tried to break from The Episcopal Church, has launched an ambitious strategy for reconnecting with each other and the wider church. Using Twitter,™ Facebook,™ and other forms of electronic communication. In answer to a question about The Episcopal Insider:

Katie Sherrod writes:

It is part of our diocesan communications plan. The diocesan communication staff [that would be me and our web master Elinor Normand] puts out an e-newsletter called The Circuit Rider with general news every other month and the diocesan staff, which is essentially Demi Prentiss, puts out The Good News every month with items from the diocesan office that will be helpful to rectors, senior wardens, and other diocesan leaders. Both are then posted on our diocesan web site. "The Episcopal Insider" is prepared by Thomas Squiers, our Social Media Coordinator, who manages our Facebook and Twitter presence. It is put together using Paper Li.

I produce videos that we post on YouTube and Vimeo and put on our diocesan website. We post links to the videos on Facebook™ and Twitter.™ We also send out email blasts to all who sign up for news updates from the diocese. We can't afford to put out a print newspaper so it is pretty bare bones because we are operating with a tiny staff and a part time bishop. All these newsletters are new -- we've only had one edition each of
of the e-newsletters. Because not all our folks are online, we are requesting that volunteers at each parish take on the ministry of printing out the newsletters and getting them to those who are not computer savvy or who prefer to get a printed copy. We use Facebook™ and Twitter™ to point folks to the newsletters and the website.

Our biggest challenge remains that of finding Episcopalians. [Former Bishop] Iker still has possession of the diocesan data bases, so we have had to rebuild mailing lists from scratch.

Through it all, our basic message remains constant --
"All are welcome in this place."

Comments (9)

I would say that [Former Bishop] Iker needs to surrender up the databases for the diocese. Having left the Episcopal Church, it would seem like theft of church property to me. Databases are potentially of high dollar value for complex organizations. Companies pay large sums for similar things. I would think that some legal action might loosen his hard drive.

Good job for the continuing (true) diocese on their creative use of social media!

Fortunately, court decisions have been going in favor of TEC. Those data bases should be returned, along with such things as the money transferred across state lines, when the cases are decided.

The other half of your problem may be connecting former Episcopalians who left the church during Iker's time. Not being there, I wonder if the word has gotten out that he is gone, and that it is safe to come back.

We certainly are doing our best to get the word out to them in as many ways as possible. The litigation in which we seek to get our property back is creating an air of uncertainty for many of those Episcopalians that make them nervous about returning. But we remain confident that we will prevail. Indeed, the 141st Court has decided in our favor. However, that decision is not final yet. And the Southern Cone parties are seeking to appeal directly to the Texas Supreme Court while retaining our property. So we wait for all this to play out while at the same time focusing,not on the litigation, but on feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, comforting the afflicted. We ask your prayers for all involved.

You can use all of the social media you want to advertise the Episcopal Church. The fact remains that it a church more interested in legal battles with congregations and individuals than helping its members live as disciples of Christ. No matter what is posted on YouTube or Twitter, people will see the truth.

Do you recall the July 2011 post "When Lawyers Run the Church"? Very few people commented on that post, but that is, I think, the crux of the Episcopal Church's problems today. Far too many bishops respond to challenging situations in their parishes legalistically rather than pastorally. That makes the church an unsafe place for priests and parishioners alike, as the church's resources to wage legal battles are seemingly unlimited.

Catherine Alexander

Catherine, you forget that your own bishop, if you are part of the Southern Cone group, has waged such a battle himself when placed in this position. Goose, gander phrases come to mind.

Bro. David

Brother David,

I'm not here to fight, and I'm not on either side of the issue. You assume that I'm a member of the Episcopal Church or the Southern Cone group. I'm neither. I'm an Anabaptist Christian who is bewildered by the hostility, cruelty, and downright meanness of the Anglican / Episcopal Church. Neither goose nor gander, I'm afraid. Try the Third Way, which was, I believe, the path of Christ.

Catherine Alexander

Thieves need to render to Caesar, Catherine---obey the civil law---so then we can ALL get back to (in our respective ways&interpretations) rendering unto God.

JC Fisher

God bless the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth!

As the Social Media Coordinator, it is a pleasure to work with such stalwarts as Katie Sherrod and Elinor Normand. Our diocese's goal is to be and remain transparent by using all forms of technology and communications. Katie does one heck of a job in guiding our communications and technologies committees. We are blessed to have others in our diocese who are on board with these initiatives.

Social Media and the use of technology is not the future of the church but is the PRESENT of the Church and is what is being used to prepare us for the next steps of our future. This is how people are church shopping today - especially young families.

Blessings,
Br. Thomas Squiers, BOSM
Social Media Coordinator
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (TEC)
socialmediacoordinator@episcopaldiocesefortworth.org

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