New Media Project examines church’s use of emerging technologies
Written by Jeff Woodard
September 16, 2011
Just three months into its launch, the New Media Project at
Union Theological Seminary has already gained footing in exploring improved ways
in which pastors and lay leaders might use new technologies to strengthen their
increasingly rich theological discussion seems to be striking a chord of
interest among religious leaders who are thinking about the impact of
technology on religious life,” said the Rev. Verity A. Jones,
project director and former publisher and editor of DisciplesWorld magazine. “I am encouraged that the discussion is getting some
UCC-related Union Theological Seminary in New York City announced
in June the launch of the project’s web site and blog. A generous grant from
Lilly Endowment, Inc., made the project possible, said Jones.
discovering that clergy under the age of 40 use social media in ways consistent
with their millennial generation,” she said. “In their personal life, 97
percent of the young clergy we surveyed use Facebook, while 31 percent use Twitter.
Eighty-three percent use Facebook for ministry and 46 percent use text
messaging in their ministry.”
said an inventory of clergy networks that use social media is being compiled.
“No such listing yet exists of which we are aware,” she said. “We wanted to see
how widespread such practices are and the role the networks play in the
flourishing of pastoral ministry today.”
Jones emphasized that pastors need more than the technical
know-how required to build web sites and use social media. They also need
broader, theologically grounded reflection on the lasting effect these
technologies will have on the church and its global ministries, she said.
research fellows are immersed in case studies, visiting sites and working on
their essays and reports.
In addition to Jones, the website and blog feature the work
of the project’s research fellows:
research fellow in Theology and Leadership Education at Duke Divinity; Monica A. Coleman, associate
professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont
School of Theology; Lerone A. Martin, assistant
professor of American Religious History and Culture at Eden Theological
Seminary; Kathryn Reklis,
executive director of the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at
Union and outgoing director of Theological Initiatives there; and Jim Rice,
editor of Sojourners magazine.
wealth of knowledge, experience, and insight we are discovering in the churches
and institutions we are studying,” said Jones. “The first of the case studies
will be posted by September 25, with the remaining following soon thereafter.”
To follow the project please visit <facebook.com/NewMediaProjectAtUnion>
or Twitter <@NewMediaAtUnion>.
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