Anyone who has attended a church service knows all about the church bulletin. It’s that multi-page booklet that provides information on just about everything going on within the congregation. While it gets attendees the information they need, it’s no longer the most efficient way to do so.
For St. Katharine Drexel Church in Mechancisburg, PA, it was time to start servicing their parishioners online. They contacted me with a very specific goal in mind: Build a website that enables parish staff to disseminate information in a timely, well-organized manner.
SKD is more than just a place that parishioners visit for weekly mass. It’s an organization that is made up of many groups – all with their own slate of news and events. As it turns out, there’s simply more information than can be efficiently printed out on a weekly basis.
They needed a website, and a system behind the website, that would allow staff to easily add events, news items and emergency weather cancellations. On the public side, SKD wanted parishioners to easily find what they are looking for. In short, they needed an effective way to reach out to the community, 24/7.
Making it Happen
Meeting with the SKD staff, they were very committed to doing things the right way. And, they were also open to my ideas.
I suggested using WordPress to power their new website. It would give them the ability to easily manage their content and provide functionality that will help parishioners stay informed.
The fact that WordPress is free and open-source meant that the project would also stay within SKD’s budget.
Over the next few months, the site was built while content and functionality were refined. The goals were customizing WordPress to make updating as efficient as possible and ensuring that the site was organized in a logical way.
“All in all, we love it!”
The hard work SKD put into their website has paid off. Parish Manager Jodi Bova says the new website “Worked in (as) many areas as we had hoped. We were encouraged by the response of people exploring our RCIA program. This included people interested in coming into the Faith through our Parish, as well as other Parishes wishing to learn about our program.”
Part of the reason the site has been so successful is that the staff has gone all-in with WordPress. Bova says “WordPress is great. It’s easy to use and rarely ever has technical difficulties. I love that we don’t have to do anything with the code. Because it’s so easy to use, I don’t mind going in and making updates to our website.”
She adds, “I would say that learning how to update the website has been pretty straightforward. If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll play around with it until I figure it out. If I can’t figure it out, I go to Eric (Karkovack) and he is extremely helpful.”
The biggest challenge so far? Bova says it’s more organizational than technical. “The biggest challenge…is making sure that everything is up-to-date. It’s not hard to go in and update things, it’s just a matter of making sure that I’m keeping up with all the content that’s on there. The biggest challenge for the rest of the staff is finding the time to prepare articles/information to keep it up to date with regard to Ministry information.”
SKD is proof that an organization, with a combination of commitment and the right technology, can succeed online without spending a fortune.