Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Churches Reach out - and Help out -by Going Online Computers for the Rest of Us

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Churches Reach out - and Help out -by Going Online Computers for the Rest of Us

Article excerpt

It has taken awhile, but mainstream churches are finally getting online. Individual churches are setting up sites on the World Wide Web. Now, a program tested in Pittsburgh is going nationwide with an alluring offer for any Christian congregation:

Put your church on the Internet for free.

The sponsors hope churches will, at a minimum, list their hours of worship and other pertinent information on the program's Web site (www.housesofworship.net). "This is really 'love your neighbor' electronically," says the Rev. John Stahl-Wert, director of training for the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, which originated the Houses of Worship program. The idea seems to be catching on. Publicly launched in Pittsburgh in June 1996, the program had 10 percent of the area's 4,000 churches on board within six months. The Web site is now adding about 50 churches a day. The process is straightforward. The "Houses of Worship" Web site already lists Christian churches in the US. Someone wishing to add information about a particular church can apply to be that church's "list editor." That editor can send something as simple as a block of text, giving hours of services and outreach programs, or spice it up with maps, pictures, or sound. "I think it's worthwhile," says Carl Richter, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Pittsburgh. New to the Internet himself, he uploaded information about his church to the site in April. On the first Sunday in May, the church had a visitor who had seen the information online and decided to come. She's now a member. She was followed by an Internet-savvy family, who also joined. Getting a church to list information on the site is a first step in what the program hopes will be increased involvement in the community. The Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation - and the 24 other metropolitan leadership foundations modeled after it - are interdenominational groups that try to connect churches with one another to meet community needs. …

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