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Building a Following Using Social Media

Joseph P. Mathews (on left) and Colin Chapman participate in one of the latest Digital Formation webinars.

Joseph P. Mathews (on left) and Colin Chapman participate in one of the latest Digital Formation webinars.

Imagine you’ve just posted to your Online church bulletin and your article is immediately shared, posted, notified and bookmarked on half a dozen of your corresponding Social Media profiles. In a matter of seconds you’re letting the hundreds or thousands of followers, circles and friends you are interacting regularly with know that you’ve added fresh content. If it’s up to Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews more churches would start using Social Media to build a following and to keep their members connected. 

By Chad Rancourt, GTS News, February 9, 2012:

The General Theological Seminary (GTS) of the Episcopal Church is working with the Communication Office of the church’s denominational headquarters on a new education program called Digital Formation. The goal is to help both clergy and lay leaders throughout the Episcopal Church appreciate the importance of understanding the use and effects of social media in the church as well as its theological foundations and implication. The program begins with a series of webinars, each centering around a different topic related to social media. The first webinar starts at 1pm EST on Friday, February 17. Interested persons may register at gtsdigiform1.eventbrite.com .

“The exponential growth of phenomena like Facebook, Twitter, and the use of various mobile devices challenge us to take not just a practical ‘how to’ approach but also to develop a serious theology of social media,” said Colin Chapman who, along the Rev. Joseph P. Mathews, have guided the creation of the program. Both are GTS students. “Formation is a part of our name because we hope to address not just technology,” added Mathews, “but also how we are shaped into the image of Christ, how we embody our Baptismal Covenant.”

Following the webinar series, Digital Formation welcomes the Rev. Matthew Moretz from Christ Church, Rye, New York, the host of the popular online video series “Father Matthew Presents.” (www.fathermatthewpresents.com) Moretz will be on the GTS campus on Thursday, February 23 at 7 pm to discuss how social media has supported his own ministry and mission, as well as how others may use social media tools such as YouTube to highlight their own parish’s strengths. The public is invited and there is no charge. “We are delighted to be working with GTS on this program,” said Anne Rudig, Director of Communication for the Episcopal Church.

Digital Formation will have a presence at General Convention this summer and has ambitious plans for additional training sessions on and off campus next year. “Helping current and future leaders to understand social media underscores General’s commitment to an ever-increasing emphasis on the use of new technologies in the enterprise of theological education,” said the Rev. Lang Lowrey, the Seminary’s president.

Those with questions about Digital Formation may contact: digitalformation@gts.edu. Digital Formation’s Facebook page, which includes a schedule of upcoming webinars and events, may be found at facebook.com/digitalformation. The program can also be followed  on Twitter at  twitter.com/digiformation.

Photo by Greg Brown

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