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Online church communities growing

Online church communities growing

A great deal of energy has been spent since the emergence of the internet and then social media, trying to figure out how the church can be present online.  Some (still) hold that the church’s presence should be minimal.  However, many are forging ahead and trying creative and innovative ways to be the church in an online world.

Dailyoffice.org, which is from the Diocese of Indianapolis, is one such innovative approach.  It offers a live webcast of Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific Time Monday through Friday that is fully interactive.  And with over a million visitors since it began, perhaps they are on to something.

And in Finland, since 2006, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has invested time and resources into developing online church communities.  Meri-Anna Hintsala is a pastor who works as a Communications Planner at the Church Council of Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland and describes the whys and hows of that effort on her blog

Finns do not tend to speak about religion face to face, but they do discuss religion by way of the internet.

 

A guiding principle was interactivity: applying the same skills that our pastors, deacons and youth workers used every day in a new, online setting to engage with people approaching religious and spiritual questions on the internet.

At first, discussions in open online forums were challenging, but by using our own names or the official church nickname “Listening Church” we were able to create confidence among web users.  We opened a chat forum called “Church Listens” (Kirkko kuulolla) in Suomi24 online community in 2010. According to statistics, Suomi24 is one of the most popular online platforms in Finland

 

The Episcopal Cafe’ is also one of those experiments in creating online community around ‘church.’  We aren’t looking to create an online worshiping community, but all of us here consider what we do a ministry.  Through the news on the Lead, the reflections and articles in the Magazine, and the devotions of Speaking to the Soul, we are hoping to connect our readers to each other and to God.  We are engaged in a mission to tell the story of the Episcopal Church, to tell your story.

 

posted by Jon White

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Katrina Soto

I am one of the regular worshippers in the dailyoffice.org Morning Prayer service. It means a great deal to me to have the opportunity to engage with others in daily prayer. My church, which I attend every Sunday, offers Morning Prayer daily, but it's not nearby, and later in the morning. Our online congregation has become a very real presence in my life. And it's not virtual church, it's church. (We even have coffee hour afterwards, so that proves it!) But, seriously, this has become a tool to allow me to live more deeply into my spiritual journey.

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Ann Fontaine

EfM Online is growing in the US and around the world. We began it in 2000 as an experiment to reach people in rural Wyoming (most of Wyoming!) who could not find a local group or who traveled for work or other reasons. Now we find younger people like it for the flexibility of a fixed discussion site and weekly live meetings online. One can log in anytime to add thoughts and learnings - then spend about an hour and half in live session from wherever one has an internet connection. Now that we have a more stable program (Blackboard Collaborate) and more online mentors trained - it is taking off.
http://static.sewanee.edu/EFM/EFMONLINE.htm

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