21st Century Congregations
December 2018
Parish Communications:
Some really good ideas that you can try, too
Let’s be honest. Remember that kid in grammar school? The one the teacher told to stand up and read their excellent composition? There might have been eye-rolling, groaning and slouching in some quadrants of the classroom. But there were always a few really smart kids who listened and learned, who had the capacity to acknowledge the giftedness of the other without feeling that they had failed because they were not “the best.” My guess is that most of us have been one or more of these characters in our youth. Maybe, even all three. Where is this going? Well, I’m about to ask a few kids to stand up so that we can all learn from their wonderful work in parish communications. This is not the Academy Awards of digital ministry. This is simply an acknowledgement of some creative and engaging work I’ve seen in our diocese. If you are feeling the groaning, slouching, eye-rolling thing coming on, you might want to skip this and come back to it when you are in the mood to get some really good ideas that you can try, too. 

  • logo created by Erik's daughter Hanna (Digital natives are everywhere!)
  • iPhone and digital camera photos taken by Erik, his wife and members of congregation
Home-grown memes in Sheffield
"One of the 'tricks' is either finding a photo or taking a photo with some space in it for the words... some sky, or snow, or road etc. that will allow the words to show. To make the meme I just use my Mac. I double click the photo to open it in 'preview', open the logo, copy it and then paste it onto the photo. Then I click the little marker icon on the top right which opens a 'mark up' tool bar which allows me to crop it and insert a text box and write something. I've done bible passages, quotes, prayers I get from somewhere or prayers I make up." -- The Rev. Eric Karas
(left) The Rev. Erik Karas, pastor/rector
  • total cost: under $1,000. $300-400 for a camera and about $300 for lighting and backdrop equipment, $60-$100 for editing software
  • Ben and Paula Cattel (video editor) are willing to assist other congregations provided that the script is done, and everything is well planned by the requesting parish with several months lead time before a deadline. 
Digital welcome produced in-house
The Rev. Bennett Jones produced a wonderful welcome video for Christ Church, Fitchburg. It is super-short at 1:30 seconds. The black & white is unique. The Q & A format allowed control of the content without having to write a script. The message is unconditional welcome and inclusive community. Ben said the two cameras were always rolling. secret to all of this was: The camera was always rolling. "And, I think a good portion of what ended up in the final video was stuff people said when they thought the camera wasn’t running."
A website designed for seekers
  • simple, user-friendly menu
  • people front and center
  • aesthetic is clean
  • FAQ for seekers
  • logical domain name
  • high resolution photos
  • Episcopal identity clear
  • built by Phil St. John, member of the parish Communications Committee
  • build-your-own platform www.Wix.com
  • annual cost for domain, hosting between $150 - $375
  • created with iPhone and a pair of inexpensive lapel microphones
  • iMovie program for postproduction
  • super short - 1:24 seconds - perfect for Facebook, Twitter & website embed
Video evangelism w/ a side of ecumenism
The Rev. Cricket Cooper, St. Stephen's, Pittsfield, and the Rev. Timothy Weisman, Zion Lutheran, are a great team. This is not the first video the pair has made, but it highlights the opportunity the holy seasons present to invite, to advertise what's happening and what these days are all about. This kind of original content can be part of your strategy for Christmas, too.

This is iPhone video at its best. Minimal cost. Just you, your phone and your computer. Total time: filming + 1-2 hours editing.
Sustained virtual community
Deaon Pat O'Connell, Episcopal Church of the Atonement, ministers every day to a virtual community via Facebook. Her daily public posts are hooked to the liturgical year, enriched by her own prayerful reflection and summed up in the unique piece of music she selects each day. One of the things that makes this ministry successful is Pat's voice, her willingness to be transparent and share her own struggles through the lens of faith.

  • "Deacon Pat Unplugged" has 111 active members
  • sustained engagement daily -especially between the hours of 5-6 am.
  • Pat's ministry is no-cost - 100% FREE
These are just a few of the great innovations in digital ministry happening in our diocese. Have you tried something new in the realm of digital ministry that you'd like to share with the class? Be in touch so I can ask you stand up and share with our congregations.
Hope, Light, Jesus!


The Rev. Vicki Ix
Communications Director/Missioner
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts | 413-737-4786 | diocesewma.org