INDIANAPOLIS: Diocese embraces new communication technology

April 3, 2008

The Diocese of Indianapolis launched a new website in late January which represents a major leap into the technological opportunities for communication in the 21st century. It is designed to offer hospitality to seekers and connect current members with ease and economy.

 

The Diocese of Indianapolis is made up of 10,000 Episcopalians gathered in 46 congregations in the lower two-thirds of the State of Indiana. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick.

“This is a project that I have wanted to tackle ever since I started working for the diocese—developing a website that will move us closer to staying electronically connected with one another,” said Kathy Copas, who serves the diocese as coordinator for communication and evangelism and is the editor of Tidings, the diocesan newspaper.

Although Copas refers to the website as “work in progress,” it already offers videos introducing congregations in the diocese, blogs, podcasts and online event registration. Further, it is designed to become a portal for more advanced communication features such as online meetings and live webcasts.

Copas notes that the congregations of the diocese are greatly dispersed geographically, with some as far as four hours away from Indianapolis, the seat of the diocese and the site for many diocesan meetings. “We are losing the participation of some people because of the distance,” she said.

Copas plans to change this by offering real time online meetings, accessed through the website. She is offering the service to committees and groups throughout the diocese.

The diocese also plans to offer live webcasts of upcoming events, beginning with diocesan convention this October, which Copas describes as “already a high-tech affair,” with large video screens fed by two live television cameras.

“We now have the ability to share our diocesan videos more widely,” said Copas, who explained that she produces a number of videos each year that are viewed at convention and other events.

“Now we will be able to post our videos to share with everyone,” she said.

One such video currently available on the website is “A Home for Natasha.” Filmed on location in Pass Christian, Mississippi, the film documents the successful efforts of people in the Diocese of Indianapolis to build a new home for Natasha Porter and her children, left homeless after Hurricane Katrina.

Through a series of fund-raising efforts throughout the diocese, Indiana Episcopalians have raised more than $65,000 to build and furnish the new house. A team from the Diocese of Indianapolis will travel to Mississippi in early May to bless the house and help move Natasha and her children into their new home.

And Kathy Copas will capture it all on video.

Copas is fond of quoting Bishop Waynick, who refers to the Diocese of Indianapolis as a “household.”

“If we are going to talk about communication in the household,” Copas said, “then we need to bridge the distance. My question has always been about how we can be connected over great distance and save time and money on travel.”

Copas points out there is still much to do to achieve her goals, but that the launching of the new website was the start.

Concerning the changes, Copas wrote in her column in the most recent issue of Tidings, “Some of you already think it is terrific and a couple of you are already simply aggravated that that we made any changes at all.”

“Ah yes,” she said, “there’s that difficult word again!”

-- Joe Bjordal is Episcopal Life Media correspondent in the dioceses of Provinces V and VI. He is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sandra Coburn, canon for communication in the Diocese of Missouri, contributed to this story.

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