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TechShop saves church groups $8 million, exec says

5/28/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Since launching two years ago, United Methodist Communications' online computer store has saved the denomination more than $8 million, an agency executive says.

UMCom introduced TechShop, a 24-hour-a-day online store, as a service to enable United Methodist churches and organizations to buy computer technology at below retail prices. The biggest share of the savings has come through sales of Microsoft products, the store's flagship product line, says Linda Saunders, TechShop manager. In most cases, those products are offered for 50 percent or less of retail cost, she says.

The store began its relationship with Microsoft Corp. in September 2000 to provide church entities a less expensive way to buy software. Since then, the store has added other partnership agreements and now offers Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and other computer manufacturers and products to the denomination at reduced prices.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline charges UMCom with developing, implementing and maintaining the denomination's "presence on and use of the Internet, the World Wide Web, or other computer services that can connect United Methodist conferences, agencies and local churches with one another and with the larger world."

Computer software and hardware can be big-ticket items for congregations that operate on tight budgets, notes the Rev. Larry Hollon, UMCom's top executive. For a small church, a savings of $100 could be the difference between being connected to the Internet or not, or being able to have a computer and basic software or not, he says.

TechShop also has enabled church agencies and larger organizations to realize savings.

"TechShop helps United Methodists around the world share stories of God's healing love," and it enables them to obtain the necessary tools for ministry, Hollon says.

In its first year, TechShop saved the denomination $4 million, and changes in the program during 2002 increased the volume of sales, Saunders says. That indicates United Methodist churches and organizations value the service, she says.

TechShop's success has allowed the church to extend its ministry by providing access to information online and by saving money that can be used in other expressions of ministry, Hollon says.

"Not every church is yet wired to the Internet, but thousands of congregations are, due to the stewardship of TechShop," he says.

More information about TechShop is available by writing to, calling toll-free (888) 346-3862 or visiting

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