virtually news – part 1

This is my third blog post. Like most ministers and rabbis, I have plenty to say and no end of opinions. Right now I am between congregations, but as a minister I had the forums of pulpits, newsletter articles, the occasional interview, and of course, personal conversations and counseling.

There are conventions around most of these transactions. We get training (however rudimentary) for pastoral counseling, and there are any number of books and traditions on crafting “sermons that work.” Today I was considering passing along some excellent advice for church newsletter editors from Rev. Charles A. Gaines. I found it very useful when I took over that task from our church administrator.

But now many congregations no longer send out a paper newsletter. It is so much more cost-effective to post the news on a website or email it to everyone. Unfortunately, that leaves out a number of people who do not have access to the internet or have a hard time with attachments. And sometimes this includes the older people who nurtured, grew and financed their religious home through tough times and costly projects. They are thereby cut off from the life of the congregation and the events that keep people close. They may not hear about life passages. They don’t even know about their opportunities to support the institution they love. As for me, I just prefer a hard copy that I can carry around with me to read at odd moments, or file for future reference. I have more than enough to read online, and I appreciate being able to step away from the computer and read about people now and then. And I confess, it often made its way into the bathroom.

It’s normal for us to lose patience with old technology and slower methods. But I still believe that it is cost-effective to create and mail some sort of printed newsletter for those who need them. Furthermore, it is the loving, considerate, and respectful thing to do for our members, whether they are wise, crotchety, or absent. And then we can also have some around for visitors to take home with them as well.

What do you think? How does your congregation handle this issue?

Next week, I will get back to my original topic, which is the content and design of newsletter on paper vs. the plastic medium of the internet, and some of the issues that virtual news creates. I am sure that we all have lots to say.

About Rev. Alison Hyder

My name is Rev. Alison Hyder and I am a Unitarian Universalist parish minister from Baltimore, MD. I am a professional Clergy Coach, with degrees in divinity and social work. I specializing in parish issues, helping ministers and rabbis determine their goals in areas like pastoral counseling, congregational relationships, worship, administration, and social outreach, and then develop practical steps for improving their skills and achieving their vision. I find that a fulfilling ministry is often the cure to spiritual malaise. The more confident we feel about our abilities, the better our relationships with other people, and the closer we feel to God. I also find spiritual sustenence in music and painting. I am a sometime artist, performer and handyman. Please visit my site at
This entry was posted in communication, congregations, elders, newsletters, newsletters, respect, stewardship, tools for mininsters, Uncategorized, websites. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to virtually news – part 1

  1. We offer our members and friends the option of whether they’d like email or hard copy. We also print several hard copies for our Welcome Table for visitors. This seems to have met pretty well everyone’s needs…we also are experimenting with a little blogging, facebook, no Twitter yet; our community and target outreach audience still needs a mix of hi-tech and low-tech outreach tools.

    • Who produces your email and is responsible for the several versions? When we first started posting them online it was as a cost-saving measure, and the online format was very little different from the old printed one, minus the columns and with some color. Now the newsletter is done by computer people with photogrpahs, graphics, sections, links, etc. The adminstrator has almost nothing to do with it.

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