It's a simple idea with spiritual consequences. Find a way to add uplifting messages to social media. A group of young women from United Christian Church UCC in Austin, Texas, set out to take on the negativity that pervades Facebook timelines and instead post positive thoughts to their growing base of followers.
Teenagers Hannah Gray, Jennifer Patterson, and sisters Megan and Tara McAllister created the Posts of Light Facebook page on June 24 and maintain it as a vehicle to spread good news and inspirational messages. The page's descriptions reads, "Posts of Light will post uplifting quotes and stories that can bring light into a world that can feel dark at times."
"The reason why it's so powerful is we're able to connect with other people. If it was just us (four girls) it would still be cool, but it wouldn't be the same," Jennifer said. "Our followers allow us to feel like we're making a difference, that there's purpose when I get on Facebook because of that."
The idea came to light at the UCC's National Youth Event July 10-14 in West Lafayette, Ind., when Hannah, Tara and Megan attended a workshop, God is Still Speaking Through You. One of the discussion points from workshop presenter, the Rev. Dave Schoen, minister and team leader for the UCC's Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry, was about using social media to share your faith. The girls shared with Schoen after the workshop that they had created Posts of Light just two weeks earlier.
Since all the girls actively use social media, they figured it was an appropriate vehicle to deliver their uplifting messages. Jennifer and Tara said all the girls can post to the page's timeline, and they all provide their own angle to the messages. Fans of the page can also share inspirational messages on the timeline.
"We already had the name Posts of Light as an idea of posting good news on people's walls. I thought it would be cool to have a page that would show on people's feed that had a bunch of happy stuff to make people feel better," Megan said.
The girls' page is right in line with the UCC's "Faith,In" project. "Live your Faith, Love your Community" is all about making one's spiritual mission visible in the world. The initiative, launched nationally at NYE, challenged the youth to loudly proclaim their faith and to live out that faith in their neighborhoods through mission and outreach. The Posts of Light motivational messages are one example of active proclamation.
And it's a growing proclamation. The Facebook page gained more than 50 followers in a little more than a month, and is still gathering fans. "It just started on Facebook, but it's already expanded a little to a website and Twitter," Tara said. Postsoflight.org, which went live recently, will aggregate the group's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
So where do the girls cultivate the ideas for their messages?
Megan bases her posts on her mood. "If I'm feeling down and something pops in my head that will make me feel better, I'll Google it and usually there's some quote that relates," she said.
Said Hannah, "Musicians might say something in a lyric that makes you say, 'That's really strong.'"
A strong way they use light to push through darkness.