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Friday, May 8, 2015

Calling All Vergers

Brendan O'Conner made this video for VergerTV exploring the locations for the 2015 VGEC Conference in St. Louis

By Ken Holloway, News Manager, VGEC

Brendan O'Conner, Digital Missioner at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, and I recently talked about his upcoming 2015 VGEC Annual Conference presentation entitled, "Using Social Media to Spread the Word." I asked Brendan how he came to be a Digital Missioner and what advice he will have for us in St. Louis. He answered my questions with this very enlightening email.

"My pleasure. The most succinct description of what I will be speaking about is how to think of social media as more than just advertising, but as a way to make church a lived, week-long community.

"I am a member of the Episcopal Service Corps in the Diocese of Missouri, living in the Deaconess Anne House (which I do much of the social media for, at esc-stl.org). Prior to taking this position, I worked as a lay youth minister for St. Bartholomew's Episcopal in Pewaukee, WI, and served in an Episcopal Service Corps program in Syracuse, NY.

"I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in History, where I focused on the History of Ideas, especially religion and philosophy. Additionally, I have a bit of a creative background in film, digital media, music, theater, and other formats, which has helped me approach my work at Christ Church Cathedral with a spirit of excitement.

"Christ Church Cathedral of St. Louis created the position of Digital Missioner after seeing the great work that Key Hall Online, a resource of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary, had been doing.

"Digital Missioners Rev. Kyle Oliver of Key Hall Online, and Ed Watson of St. Hilda's House, have taken innovative approaches to utilize social media for the expansion and transmission of their ministries.

"Learning from their success, it is my objective to take the ministries of the Cathedral, and turn the church building inside out. Rather than having weekly church services be the center of the participation, I work to utilize the participatory and communal aspects of social media to carry the church's mission throughout the week.

"Good church social media isn't about technological wizardry, or being "hip and with it," it's about creating a safe, well-maintained space. There is social media material that is meant to attract new people to a church, and while that is very important, I find that approach arising by treating the resources as a way to further the community that is already present.

"Have no fear! My discussion will not be a heavily technical one. Instead, I want to focus on this new way of thinking about social media usage in churches, examples how this has worked for different ministries, and leave everybody with a list of specific, practical advice for a more engaged online presence.

"I highly recommend that churches who wish to learn more about quality online engagement check out http://www.keyhallonline.org/, http://www.sainthildashouse.org/, and the provocatively-titled http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/!

"There are plenty of great resources out there for almost every function. The most important move is to recognize that a church's online space is just as much of its ministry as its physical building.

"I am also looking forward to helping spread the word about the conference and I look forward to being in one place with so many vergers!"

Brendan didn't stop with this invigorating message about spreading the message. He made this video for VergerTV which introduces the VGEC Conference. You can sample more of his work at this link to the Lenten Series 40 Essential Bible Passages. Take a look, and join us for Brendan's presentation on Friday afternoon. See you in St. Louis!

Click the big red button to register for the 2015 Annual Conference being held October 1-4, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri:

Abstract: 2015 VGEC Conference Preview - "Using Social Media to Spread the Word", scheduled for Session 3: Friday, October 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm. Brendan O'Conner has some great guidance for us on new and innovative ways to spread Christ's word using social media like YouTube and Facebook.

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