Byline: Michael J. Murschel Daily Herald Correspondent
For Nevin Dulabaum, manager of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, the past four years have seen a new vista develop in the area of denominational communications.
Thanks to the public's increasing awareness of the Internet, the Church of the Brethren, and almost every other religious body in the U.S. and around the world, is reaching out to embrace the new technology as much as possible.
The Elgin-based Church of the Brethren currently lists 1,100 churches in 36 states, with a nationwide membership of 142,000. Once connected to the Web, these congregations can become one, provided with information on issues affecting the life of the church, its members, ministries and services.
Those hookups are happening now.
The official Web site for the Church of the Brethren is designed to provide as much news and updated information on denominational life and issues as possible. Built into it are community and news areas.
"We have a lot of fresh news content," Dulabaum said. "That serves to bring people into our Web site and, as they do that, they will want to look at the whole site to find out more about the church as a whole.
The Internet is much more timely for news; the traditional monthly lagtime on news about conferences and events has been shaved to hours, thanks to the availability of laptop computers, digital cameras, scanners and high-speed modem hookups to the Internet.
For example, Dulabaum's office also produces "Newsline" as a news service publication two times a month. Distributed both by fax and via e-mail, it has the latitude, thanks to current technology, to be put out on a daily basis at conferences, giving its readership up-to-the-minute reports on the actions of the conference, transcripts of sermons and other pertinent business.
Since November of 1994, Dulabaum has seen subscriptions to this online publication rise from 70 to the current 1,100 range.
Another publication, "Agenda," will go online in the next several weeks at the Web site. This will serve as a newsletter for books and videos.
These and other denominational pages like it provide people, both members and information seekers, with policy statements describing where the church and/or denomination stands on various issues. A goal of these sites is to make the information as relevant as possible.
"We support the idea of congregations getting online," Dulabaum said.
The Church of the Brethren will soon begin to refine its sites and expand into using them for expediting event registration and ordering materials and resources.
The Church of the Brethren also has an "unofficial" Web site designed to help congregations go online. …