UCC debuts social networking site: 'myUCC' launches March 31
Written by Staff Reports
March 31, 2009
The UCC's very own social networking site, myUCC, is officially ready for action. Launched publicly March 31, the site has been in beta testing and development for nearly six months.
Many of the features found in other social networking sites, namely Facebook and MySpace, are present in myUCC. The site makes connecting with friends and groups easy, along with storing images and sharing video.
Blog features allow individuals or groups to post their thoughts and topical forums, previously maintained at a separate forums site, will be migrated to myUCC. The ability to share content across a group and to foster discussion and feedback is maintained while housing everything under one digital roof.
"This is going to revolutionize the way people experience the UCC online and engage one another at <ucc.org>," says the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's director of communications. "For the first time on our denomination's website, people will be able to contribute their own body of unfiltered content, opinions, reflections and creative work."
While Guess says the denomination isn't under the illusion that it's going to compete with the wildly popular Facebook, it does hope to offer a companion experience.
"A lot of users of conventional networking sites, such as Facebook, have told us they would love to have a social networking community that allows them to dig deeper into UCC topics and issues of faith and justice, in ways that they wouldn't feel comfortable doing on Facebook," Guess said. "Local churches, Associations and Conferences can have their individual groups, in various forms, but members of those groups can also find each other and interconnect in exponential ways."
And while Guess anticipates that many people will want to explore theological or ecclesiastical topics, he also hopes there will be no limit to the scope of the conversations. "We hope it will be a place to talk about religion, but also pop culture, politics, justice, music, books - whatever interests you."
For those who are not accustomed to social networking, myUCC will be a new kind of web experience, because myUCC's content will be generated from users, not necessarily the church's national staff.
"It's very egalitarian," Guess says. "It's very bottom-up, and for people who long for a controlled, top-down way of sharing information, it's going to take some getting used to."
Dan Hazard, the UCC's web manager, emphasizes that the UCC is not abandoning its longstanding commitment to engaging Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and other popular sites to build relationships with and among constituents.
"We will still be active on these sites, as much as ever," Hazard says. "But we're also integrating that technology into our site so that our users will have a similar experience at <ucc.org>. We think it's important for people to be able to create their own content that reflects their own personalities and perspectives."
myUCC will be policed by its users, and individuals will be asked to flag inappropriate content or photos that will be reviewed and possibly removed by the UCC's web staff, Hazard says.
Users will be offered an integrated log-in experience, meaning that they will have the same user name and password for the entire website, including myUCC and access to the "Buy It" e-commerce areas of the site.
Guess admits that the wait for myUCC has been longer than anticipated due to a platform change early on in the project. He said some of the promised features are still in development such as the sharing of profile and status updates with friends. Additional features will be tested and released as they become available.
"We know our people are going to like this," Guess says, "because UCC people always like places where they can offer their own opinions."
To register or login, please visit the myUCC link at <ucc.org>.