(0504) General Conference Web site draws record number of visitors
May 4, 2004
By Suanne Whorl*
PITTSBURGH (UMNS) — Designers of the Web site for the 2004 session of the United Methodist General Conference, www.gc2004.org, have kept up with the thousands of visitors coming to that site.
A UMNS photo by Rasul Welch.
United Methodist Communications' Web Ministry Team produce the Internet report of work of General Conference delegates.
May 3, a record 1,875 people were online simultaneously throughout the
day. Staff members of the denomination's communications agency expect
the number of Web visits to increase further before the May 7
adjournment of the 10-day legislative gathering.
Matt Carlisle and Steve Downey had anticipated 1,000 possible concurrent
users, based on the fact that the denomination's Web site, www.umc.org, usually has 200 to 300 simultaneous users.
of United Methodist Communications added capacity to accommodate the
anticipated usage. When traffic exceeded original expectations, they
worked around the clock to add even more capacity.
are many reasons for the popularity of the 2004 General Conference Web
site. Use of personal computers has risen dramatically in the last four
years, and staff of the communications agency promoted the site as a way
for folks in the pews to follow actions during the legislative
Users of the 2004 Web site will find
improvements over the site established for the 2000 General Conference.
Video and audio streaming is broadcast in real time, and the photo
gallery is twice the size of the previous session. Visitors are able to
track legislation as it works its way through the process by clicking on
"Online Legislative Tracking." Audio and video reports are now
routinely released along with print news stories.
Carlisle and Downey describe themselves as "evangelists" for the efficient use of the Internet. They see www.UMC.org and www.gc2004.org as the trendsetters for what can be done in Web ministry.
They say increased use of both sites is proof that the Internet should be part of the ministry and mission of the church.
Downey sees the Internet as an opportunity to reach new people for
Christ, he warns that people operating Web sites carry a weighty
"When people can go to Amazon.com or
CNN.com and get things immediately, some of that expectation is bound to
rub off on us," Downey said.
"We need to be able to offer
'open hearts, open minds and open doors' online as quickly and
accurately as possible," Carlisle said, referring to the denomination's
advertising campaign theme.
When asked if all the late
nights and frantic days have been worth the effort, Downey cited a May 3
e-mail from a Web site visitor. It read: "Thanks. You need to know that
just because we are not there, doesn't mean we aren't interested."
*Whorl is a correspondent for the United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.After May 10: (615) 742-5470.
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