Old Harrodsburg parish joins trend of online churches

November 05, 2004|HERB BROCK

HARRODSBURG - The other day the Rev. Joan Smith and St. Philip's Episcopal Church parishioner John Borders were in Smith's office talking about some church-related business. Borders asked if information about the business could receive some publicity.

"Certainly," said Smith. "We'll put it in the church bulletin and the newsletter. And on our Web site."

That the third publicity option - the church Web site - was not available to members of the 143-year-old parish on Short Street until just over a month ago. That's when the historic church with a small but active congregation of 80 to 100 parishioners joined a new trend that began a few years ago among much bigger churches. It flew into cyberspace.

"Just a little over 30 days we began constructing our Web site," said Smith in her office in the Parish House next to the church. "Already, we can see the benefit of having this instantaneous form of communication literally available at our fingertips.


"It's lively, interactive," she added. "And there really is a certain warmth and connectedness to it."

Smith said the idea for establishing the Web site - which is accessible by connecting to - was born at a meeting of St. Philip's' vestry, the board that oversees the parish. She said vestry member Karen Maxfield suggested that the parish establish its own Web site - and she said she happened to know someone who could construct and then manage the site.

"Karen's husband Ric is a Salvisa firefighter who also has a talent and skill with computers and the Internet," said Smith, who confessed to "not being a high tech person, just someone who can get along OK with computers." "Ric has helped build the site, and now he serves as our volunteer Web master."

With a volunteer managing the system and the church office already equipped with a computer and access to the Internet, the cost of building and maintaining the system has been minimal, she said. "Our only regular cost is the monthly fee for having the site, and that's under $20," she said.

What's on the site

The site, which states it is still "under construction," includes the church's mission statement, information about the history of St. Philip's and the Episcopal Church, and a calendar of church events. In addition, birthday wishes are posted for parishioners as they occur, and photos of church members and leaders are presented.

"We also are able to update information contained in our weekly bulletin and monthly newsletter between the publication dates of those two publications," she said. "Also, I'm able to use the site to do a mass e-mailing to members of the Bible study group, and leaders of other programs can do the same.

"It's really a wonderful thing to know that we are creating a network between and among parishioners from Salvisa to Danville, from Harrodsburg to Nicholasville, and other places where our people live and work. Communication is so important, and this Web site really enhances and accelerates communication for us."

In addition, the Web site will contain links to the Web site operated by the Episcopal Diocese in Lexington, the administrative as well as spiritual headquarters for Episcopal churches through central, northern and eastern Kentucky, she said.

While excited about the new Web site - she called it a "fun and informative way" to improve parish communications - Smith stressed that the old-fashioned form of parish communications are not being replaced, just complemented. The church will continue to produce the weekly bulletin and monthly newsletter, she said.

"There are people who do not have the Internet. And there are people who like to have something tangible in hand to read and to keep handy," Smith said.

Central Kentucky News Articles