Local ministers are working to find new ways to spread their message not only within their local community, but the global community provided by the World Wide Web.
“We have to take the words and put it out for as many people as possible,” Chip Lee, minister at St. John’s and St. Matthew’s Episcopal churches in Deer Park and Oakland, said. “This is one more way in which to spread the good news.”
Lee, who had a background in marketing and broadcast before becoming a minister at three Garrett County churches, including the log church on state Route 135 in Altamont, helped to guide his churches into the age of the Internet, and now reaches more than 15,000 people with the church’s podcasts, weekly broadcasts done available for download on iTunes.
He said that it took some persuasion to convince the churches that this was a natural step toward a more technological age, but also a way to draw new members into the church, even if they technically didn’t set foot in any of the three. However, much of the technology necessary, he said, was awarded through various grants within the diocese.
“Churches have recognized that they should have a good Web site because it’s good at attracting new families to the area,” Lee said. “The Internet has become almost a staple of daily life.”
He still emphasizes the biggest way for a church to get members remains the traditional method of invitation by friends or family, but since the podcasts have begun, he has gotten e-mail from people all over the world, including soldiers in Iraq and people living in Europe.
He added that the Web site currently has live feeds of the churches services as well as streaming audio from each service.