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December 15, 2009

Church Calendar and Electronic Communication

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Good warmer than usual Tuesday morning!

Last night, our Voters’ Body finalized our 2010 church calendar. A copy of it will be available in our weekly “Saint Matthew’s Matters” announcement section in our bulletin beginning on December 27th.

One of the most challenging parts of the church is trying to keep to a calendar. Sometimes, events that are scheduled for a particular day and time are moved. It isn’t because we want to change what we’ve announced; there are times when other events force us to move what we’ve scheduled. And when these times pop up, sadly many times, people miss that we made these changes. We apologize to anyone who has had this happen to them. Please believe that we’re trying to take greater strides to ensure that these mistakes are minimized, if not eliminated, in the future.

As such:

A couple of months ago, Saint Matthew’s started using Google Calendar in conjunction with our schedule page here on the site. Since we already keep our church calendar (and my “Pastor’s Calendar”) in Google and they offer to imbed these calendars on websites, it made more sense to move in this direction. With Google Calendar, we’re able to update the calendar over in our Google account and instantly those changes are reflected on our church website. It makes is easier all around.

The issue of communication is important. We’ve tried to keep an electronic newsletter through Constant Contact, an email marketing service. The biggest problem with Constant Contact is that, for $20 a month, it wasn’t worth the hassle of designing, writing, and coordinating a weekly newsletter. Each week, we kept putting it off and eventually, we let our account sit idle.

I will make an admission here – I paid the monthly charge for this account; Saint Matthew’s didn’t pay a dime. But since the account was not being used, it made little sense to keep it.

This is not to say we’re sitting on our duffs. We are trying to craft an electronic newsletter while establishing an electronic communications policy. We’re working on a number of programs to see which ones would best serve Saint Matthew’s.

One of these programs is being tested right now. Over in the right column of this blog, you’ll see a box that is entitled “SUBSCRIBE.” There you can subscribe to this blog either by RSS feed or by email. The email link is the important one – each day, you’ll receive an email with a list of updated posts from this blog. Now, the reason this is a test is that we’re planning on putting this email subscription on our announcements page. On those days we update our announcement page, you’ll receive an email from us telling you about the changes.

On the church’s side, this makes our life easier. When we update the page, you’ll receive an email. We do not have open another program and create a special email to send — it is sent to everyone on the list when we update it. Hypothetically, let’s say we have a special Youth dinner scheduled for a Saturday night, but the weather forecaster says that it is going to snow and we postpone this event until the next week. When we update our announcement page with this information, you’ll receive an email from the church telling you about the change.

Simple. Easy. Direct. Free.

Of course, there are many here at Saint Matthew’s who do not use a computer or the internet. We’ll still have our telephone chain ready to go when these calendar issues warrant.

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