VOL. 112 | NO. 53 | Friday, April 3, 1998
By LAURIE JOHNSON
Internet church network introduced to Memphis congregations
The Daily News
An on-line network designed to offer thousands of U.S. churches their own Web site is now accessible to local congregations.
The Houses of Worship Web site seeks to link more than 300,000 churches throughout the country, and the Memphis Leadership Foundation is leading the effort to get local churches to activate their sites.
"Houses of Worship represents an historic effort to bring a diverse group of churches to the cutting edge of 21st century technology," said Howard Eddings, president of the Memphis Leadership Foundation.
"HOW helps churches communicate with their members and exchange resources with congregations across town as well as across the country."
The Houses of Worship initiative, offered free to churches, was created by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and OnTV, a Pittsburgh-based Web publisher. It is funded through the American Bible Society.
The Memphis Leadership Foundation, an affiliate of the Council of Leadership Foundations, is its local facilitator.
"These groups have come together to offer individual churches the opportunity to develop their own Web pages where they can provide whatever information they wish about themselves," said Steve Allison, Memphis Leadership Foundations HOW coordinator.
To participate in the program, a church or church member must have the necessary computer hardware and Internet access.
The basic Houses of Worship church site has four Web pages, including a pastors page, a calendar of events, a youth page and a needs and offerings page, which is a bulletin board-type feature.
For churches who dont already have a Web page, this basic format serves as a template which the church can modify, Allison said.
The site can be edited by any member of the church congregation or staff who has a password and identification code.
Allison said the Houses of Worship format also can accommodate churches who already have Web sites.
"For those churches, the HOW site provides a hyperlink that sends the user directly to the churchs own page," Allison said.
The Houses of Worship site, located at www. housesofworship.net, lists Web sites for almost 1,300 Memphis churches. About 50 have been activated.
"There are about 50 churches in this area that we have been able to make connections with," Allison said.
"While this is not a phenomenally large number, it does tell us that there is some interest. We really are just on the front edge of this, so I do believe it will continue to grow."
Rich Cook, pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church, said he thinks the Houses of Worship site is a good idea because it creates a central location for church information.
"The way the Internet is set up and the way people navigate around, the biggest problem is getting people to find your site, unless they already know where to go," he said.
"Its always good to be in a common area, where people who wanted to look for churches would know where to go."
Cook, whose church plans to active its Houses of Worship site in the next two weeks, said the key to the site success depends on how well the program is marketed to church members and the public.
About 10,000 U.S. churches now have a presence on the Houses of Worship site, about 300 of them in Tennessee.
The Memphis Leadership Foundation introduced the program to Memphis church leaders in a meeting March 27 at Christian Brothers University.
Allison said the Houses of Worship initiative fits well with the Memphis Leadership Foundations mission to unite area churches.
"This will help us fulfill our mission to continue bringing churches together throughout the community and to show them new ways to share their resources."
Allison said the Memphis Leadership Foundation will continue to offer individual and small group presentation and training sessions to educate churches about the Houses of Worship Web site.
For more information about the Houses of Worship Web site or to set up a presentation or training session, contact the Memphis Leadership Foundation at 729-2931.