Thursday, August 25, 2016

"What it Means to be United Methodist" Free online course

"What it Means to be United Methodist."

Free, ongoing, self-paced online course from UM Communications. Certificate of Completion and .5 ALLLM CEU awarded. Facilitated by Bill Lawson

Course Description

This online course is designed for new United Methodists and anyone wanting to know more about the denomination. Are you a lifelong or long-term Methodist? You may be surprised at what you can learn about our denomination. The course includes 4 modules that contain many interactive features. Each module takes about 1 hour to complete. You can move through the modules at your own pace.

What will I learn?

This course is divided into 4 parts. In the course, you’ll explore the following areas of interest:

Modern Methodism
What We Believe
Our Roots
Church Structure

Monday, August 15, 2016

Staff Tech Workshop, August 16

The annual Staff Tech Workshop for District, Conference and Episcopal Office Staff will be held at the conference office in Jackson from 9-3 tomorrow, August 16.  This year's focus is on the local church dashboard, websites, registration, newsletter, and email sections of the Brick River database.  We will also be working on improving data integrity and drilling down into the reports and search capabilities and the fields in the most frequently used tables.

All staff are invited to participate onsite or remotely as they are able.  Follow up information will be added to this blog post.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

AC 2016 on Moblie App

Our conference mobile app at includes a section for the 2016 session of Annual Conference.  The section provides direct links to the most frequently needed resources for the conference.  Also included are the delegate materials which have been posted online.

This web app is designed to optimize navigation for mobile use of selected web and database features.  Instructions are included for adding the Home Screen Icon on Apple, Android and Samsung phones. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and other thoughts are highly valued!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Free Online Course about General Conference

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
A free online course by UMCom provides a self-directed experience for learning about General Conference.

This enjoyable learning experience offers "a basic working knowledge of the church's legislative process through General Conference."  The five module course, "Exploring General Conference," takes less than 3 hours to complete and awards .25 CEU along with the Certificate of Completion. The session continues through June 30, 2016.

This is a great opportunity to brush up on General Conference, as we all continue to pray for our delegates and others involved in this process.  It is also a good way to become familiar with the way the UMCom online courses operate, and to meet other learners from around the world.  Visit UMC Online Training to see all the other available course offerings, including "What it Means to be United Methodist," also free and facilitated by this author.

Monday, April 18, 2016

MS Office 365 for Nonprofits

Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits is a very easy to aquire solution for churches.

The "Business Essentials" is Free for 300 users and includes Exchange email, calendar and other services in addition to online Word and Excel.  File storage, online meetings, and a secure Intranet web site are among the other features of the free version.

The "Nonprofit Business Premium" package costs only $2 per user per month, and includes all the essentials plus all the 2016 installations of the entire MS Office suite except for Access, and license for each user to install Office on up to five PCs or Macs, and also on up to five tablets and on up to five phones.  All the programs are automatically kept updated. (MS Access is also available for an additional monthly fee).

It is extremely easy for a church organization to get approved for MS Office 365 for Nonprofits.  Just go to the "Office 365 Nonprofit Plans and Pricing" page and sign up for the free trial.  After completing the hassle-free application, you will immediately receive the login and other info necessary to start your trial time, which can easily be extended if necessary.  There are no restrictions during the trial, so you can go ahead and begin using the program as you will after your approval.

Microsoft really does want churches to use Office 365 for Nonprofits, and it shows every step of the way from the time you first land on the information page, to their enterprise class support, to their exceptional pricing and user friendliness. Try it, and post a comment here about your experience!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Find a Church Updates

Both the conference and denominational "Find-a-Church" programs make information available to those seeking current information about your church.

The conference "Find-a-Church" page for each church is located on the conference website at and provides an information page for each church in the conference.  The information on that page is populated from entries in the "Church Info" tab of the Local Church Dashboard.  The titles of empty fields are suppressed, so that only fields with entries are displayed. Church location information is used to generate a map for users to automatically get directions. Church photos, contact information, schedule, website, and other information may be added.

Just as important is the denominational "Find-a-Church" page which is used by visitors and those moving into new communities to help them choose a church in the area.  To update, navigate to your church page and then click the "Update Church Information" button at the bottom of the page.  There are several sections, and many churches use this service as their church website.  The entries are checked manually before updates are posted, and then a notification is sent when the update has been approved. Tutorials are furnished to make sure every church gets the most from this service.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Website Options

Thanks to Sue Engle, pastor of Trinity UMC in Paducah, for asking about this solution!

UM Communications offers an excellent set of website hosting solutions at  These are Wordpress based websites, and include some United Methodist plugins developed by UMCom, along with other selected plugins.  Full support is also provided.

Oklahoma Conference UMC Communications Office has prepared this guide for setting up a free church site at

Google provides free websites with Google Sites, available with either your Memphis Conference Google Business Apps (free to all churches, clergy, organizations and others in our conference), and also available through personal Gmail accounts.

Memphis Conference provides each church a web page through the conference web site, and these can be used as interim web sites.  For example, here is the page for Trinity UMC in Paducah,   Each church maintains their own information on these directory pages through their Local Church Dashboard.

A variety of other website solutions are in use across the conference, and it would be great if everyone would post a comment about about the ones they use.  We also have several website developers around the conference, who provide excellent designs and services.  Hopefully, they also would post information.

Please share your church website ideas, suggestions and experiences!