News Archives

Partnership enhances Web services to local churches

6/10/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)--United Methodist Communications entered into a partnership June 10 with Praktikos Technologies of Birmingham, Ala., to offer hosting and other Web technology at reduced costs to local congregations.

The subscription service, "E-zekiel" allows churches to create Web sites without relying on volunteers or staff person with technical knowledge. Church webmasters have a choice of more than 250 Web site "templates" - high quality graphical designs that give a Web site its look and feel. Content is added through a Web interface that operates like a simple word processor. Other than a computer and access to the Internet, no software or technical skills are required.

"Local church Web initiatives are a significant part of the church reaching out to the world and being relevant in today's culture," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, UMCom's chief executive.

"More and more people look at a church's Web site before deciding whether to attend. The Web is becoming a meeting place for Bible study, small group discussion, finding and signing up for volunteer activities, and building communities of spiritual faith with people across the globe. The Web, when implemented properly, enhances and strengthens the church and brings more people into communion with Christ."

The E-zekiel service offers ready-made content to keep Web sites fresh and current. Daily United Methodist news headlines and the Upper Room Daily Devotional are the first of many features available on Web sites powered by the E-zekiel service. Web sites may also offer event calendars, online discussion groups, polls and prayer requests, as well as other Web-based technologies.

E-zekiel offers five levels of service, allowing the church to pay only for what it needs. Higher levels of service offer more storage space, Web pages and increased functionality. The service can be purchased on a monthly basis or on a yearly basis that provides an additional discount. As the Web site grows, additional services may be purchased one at a time.

United Methodist churches of various sizes are already using the E-zekiel service. "We went from zero to 60…using the E-zekiel tool," said Irv White, director of marketing for Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. "It was important for us to have a site that was warm, friendly and familiar. The ability to update our own information…is a plus for us."

According to the Rev. Paul Perry, pastor of New Palestine (Ind.) United Methodist Church, "We needed help with our Web site and [E-zekiel was] just what we needed."

The partnership with Praktikos is the result of a multiyear study by UMCom staff of the Web needs of local churches. A high percentage of churches with Web sites polled by he United Methodist Board of Global Ministries-- in conjunction with UMCom -said they desired more sources for fresh Web content and simplified technology.

"Part of our job is to help local church webmasters match their needs and abilities to the right service," said Steve Downey, leader of UMCom's Web ministry team. "No one solution is right for everyone, but the E-zekiel service fills an important niche with a combination of simplicity and features."

To learn more, or purchase the service, go to: www.umc.e-zekiel.com. A free, 30-day trial is also available on this website.

E-zekiel adds to the growing list of technology products and services offered by United Methodist Communications through its TechShop initiative. TechShop offers a variety of computer hardware and software at significant discounts to United Methodist organizations. During its first two years of operation, TechShop has saved the church more than $8 million on Microsoft software alone.

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