Dear Hyde Park Family,
Many historians and biblical archaeologists agree that one of the greatest contributors to the spread of Christianity in the first century was not just the work of Paul, or the disciples, or the early church.It was, in fact, the comprehensive Roman road system, a technological advancement so significant that the message of the gospel traveled with unparalleled ease and speed throughout the Roman world.
Historian Lionel Casson described a person traveling the Roman roads as one who “could make his way from the shores of the Euphrates to the border between England and Scotland without crossing a foreign frontier….A planned network of good roads gave him access to all major centers, and the through routes were policed well enough for him to ride them with relatively little fear of bandits.”
New Testament archaeologist W.M. Ramsey described this innovation in the context of biblical history: “The Roman roads were probably at their best during the first century after Augustus had put an end to war and disorder….Thus St. Paul traveled in the best and safest period.”
The lesson of history is clear: The church is most effective when its evangelism of the gospel capitalizes, rather than contradicts, the latest communication technologies. Just ask ancient Judeans who rediscovered the manuscript of Hebrew law after returning from exile. Just ask the 16th Century reformers, who distributed biblical texts to commoners, thanks to Johann Gutenberg’s printing press.And just ask our church Communications Team, who have just unveiled the latest technological tool for making God’s love real to twenty-first century spiritual seekers.
For the better part of the last year, an amazing team of staff and lay volunteers have been working hard to make our church’s website more suitable for today’s user. The new site is much more mobile friendly, for people who access the internet through their smartphones and negotiate websites by scrolling with their thumbs, rather than clicking with a mouse. But that’s not all:
- It also acknowledges that more than half of the people who come to our website are first-time visitors who want to learn more about the church. It has therefore reduced the number of clicks needed to get to information that is of most interest to newcomers, including a new “Help” section, which answers frequently asked questions regarding support groups, life stage events like baptisms, weddings and pastoral and financial assistance.
- It beautifully promotes the new reality that Hyde Park United Methodist is “One Church with Two Campuses,” integrating ministries and worship services on both the Hyde Park campus and The Portico campus.
- It makes it easier to find a way to serve, both in the church and throughout the community and the world. It includes a spiritual gifts inventory for you to help discern your own unique capacities, and a full list of the latest opportunities for you to serve.
- It includes, right on the home page, a quick way for people to sign up for latest news to be sent to their email addresses, including youth and children news, the weekly e-newsletter, and this Midweek Message. In fact, past issues of the Midweek can now be found on a new solely dedicated page.
- It pops with images and well-placed text that flow seamlessly together, creating a more immersive experience for the user, rather than the kind of glorified newsletter that characterizes many other church websites.
- Still, it maintains many of the same functions and contentthat made our prior website so effective: an interface for first-time guests to plan their first visit; an archive of video recordings of prior worship services, and a way to watch the 9:30 and 11:00 sanctuary services live; and links to the latest news from the church, including stories from church members who have experienced God’s love made real.
Finally, great tribute is due to Martha Chamberlain, our Director of Communications who is retiring from her position on Nov. 10, after nine and a half years on our staff. During her time, she has elevated our communications ministry to a capacity far exceeding that in most churches. She and her team have moved us toward a greater integration among our ministries so that each of our communication media share our most critical information for the broadest impact. And she has created and nurtured a team of gifted, committed lay people with various experience in professional communications, to make God’s love real through print, email, social media, signage, local media, and countless other means.
So, check out our new website. Visit its new features and see how easy it is to negotiate all the information you need. And give thanks to Martha and her team for a job well done.
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
MEMBERS OF THE WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT TEAM
Martha Chamberlain; John Barolo; Nicki Taylor; Jonathan Brill; Kevin Steffey; Jen Novak; Whitney Smith; Melissa Witt; Ann Spillane; Gil Thelen; Rich Pegram; Steve Huettel; Sarah Jaycocks; Mary Allice Collins; Kendra Davis