Ah, the dog days of summer. Those hot (unless you live at the southern tip of Chile), lazy, numbing days where the flies buzz against the window, the dust-devils pick up the plastic bags from Walmart and drop them in the field next door, when the best solution is just to sit in the shade (or air conditioning) and drink iced tea.
Or in my case, sit back and write a doodles.
While most of the world is either on or planning their last trip of the summer before school starts, the church has been busy at work on some things that are best done when not much else is going on, and we are pleased to announce that many small projects that have accumulated over the years have been completed. It’s like cleaning out your garage, and discovering that there really is space to, you know, store a car, or something.
One of the projects we are glad to get off our desk is the Online Church directory. I think one of the roadblocks we have been trying to surmount is the fact that we were kind of stuck in an earlier age, when we had a photographer come in, take pictures, organize the pictures for us, print a directory for us, and then we were good for a few years. In today’s world, many of these things are not actually necessary, or even efficient. In a world of facebook, instagram, etc., pictures are taken all the time, and are instantly transmittable in digital format, without any loss of quality. Most people are online in some capacity, either with computers and websites, or cell phones and facebook, and so, printed materials, while not completely gone, are not used as much. When we combine these things, a printed directory, updated every 5 or 10 years is an artifact from a different era.
Consequently, we will rely a little bit more on you all to provide us with up-to-date information. If you don’t like your picture, send us a new one. If the contact information is bogus, let us know, and we will change it. We need your help to us keep our community in touch with each other.
Now, all this doesn’t mean that we will not have a printed directory. We will. But it will not a full glossy production booklet. It will be a simple PDF file with staples, will be printed once a year, and it will be available in the office or in the Narthex. The main emphasis will be put on maintaining an online directory that is included in our website, both the desktop and mobile versions, that contains all the information a good quality directory would, including pictures and contact information, but is also able to be updated quickly and effortlessly, with the information immediately available to everyone. It’s a big change, but I think it’s a good one.
Another big project we’ve contemplated for years has been to update the website, using more modern palettes of colors and themes, with a more mobile-friendly interface. In working on the old website, we discovered that the platform upon which it was built, Google Sites, had changed, and was now called, “New Sites”, and it was awful. Less flexibility, fewer options, user-UN-friendly, and an all around big downgrade in functionality. On the other hand, it was free. But, sometimes, you get what you pay for, and this was one of those times. When I created the original website, it was good enough, but now, I find it impossible.
Consequently, in conversation with the Membership and Outreach committee, we have subscribed to a web-building/web-hosting platform called Wix, purchased a new domain, and have completed the basic structure of a new website. We still have a ways to go, but already the website is more functional than the old one, with the Online Directory, Announcements, Sermons online, Focus newsletters online, and best of all , a more compatible mobile interface for cell phones and tablets. The website is still being indexed by google, and it will take a while to be fully resolved in search results, I am already glad that we made this change, and I have good hope for the future of using this easily edited and nice looking service.
BTW: the website is FPC-PLV.com. You can also get an app for the mobile version by typing this into your phone and then letting it install on your home screen: https://fpcplv.beezer.com
While on the topic of websites and domains, I would like to take a moment to thank Gene Whitfill, who created the first website so many years ago (well before the monstrosity I cobbled together), before I even came here, and has faithfully paid for the renewal of our domain registration for many years. Gene, you can put this burden down, with the deep thanks of a grateful congregation.
In addition to the work on the online directory and the website, we will be updating the facebook page on a more regular basis. Please submit pictures and/or announcements that you would like to see posted.
In all these tech-savvy efforts, the key is content. Pictures, articles, pictures, posts, pictures, all these are critical to keeping our online presence fresh and inviting. Session members, please, please, give us content. Let us know about upcoming projects, ideas, stuff that is happening in your committees. We are not in a position to decide for you what is important in your area of responsibility. Please share what’s going on, and if possible, give us pictures! Pictures are awesome!!
I hope you all find these changes helpful. Our goal is to find ways of communicating our message to as many people as quickly as possible. I am aware that some do not use computers and cell phones in these ways, and for those folks we will still be putting calendars in the bulletin and the Focus newsletter, we will still be printing the Focus for those who want it, and we will have a simple printed version of the directory.
But, if you, like me, enjoy having this information at your fingertips, these changes are for you. Please take the time to check us out online!