Regnat Populus: the people rule.
E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one.
This past week, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a group of young adults from the Arkansas Conference who went to Washington, DC to participate in the United Methodist Seminar program sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. The program focused on hunger and poverty in Arkansas and across the United States, and as the Arkansas Conference is currently working on the 200,000 Reasons Initiative, it was a perfect fit for us as we learned about our own state’s statistics on poverty and food insecurity, as well as what programs and ideas have worked in the DC area, and figured out how we can bring that into the initiative.
However, it was more than that. The trip, in and of itself, was an exercise of our collective rights as citizens, an opportunity to imagine new, creative, and innovative solutions to the problems we face in our state, and an adventure into our nation’s expansive and storied capital. And while I know I can’t do the trip justice as far as describing it in detail, I will certainly give it, as they say, “the old college try.” Continue reading “Where Regnat Populus Meets E Pluribus Unum”
As you may know, I have had quite the wild ride these past eight months. I went from a Computer Science student not sure of his career path to a Religious Studies student with a plan to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church as a communicator and technological advocate and educator, and all of this thanks, in part, to an amazing experience interning with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church (if you haven’t read any of my writings on that experience, click here). However, as I’ve continued to grapple with that internship, as well as my personal faith development in the context of being a minister as opposed to being a layperson, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot more that I want to learn and experience when it comes to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of people outside of my home state and region. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that Hendrix affords me, such as the Odyssey program, while I still have the opportunity to. Therefore, after much discussion with Rev. J.J. Whitney, Hendrix’s chaplain, and quite a few emails, I am very excited to announce that I have been approved to conduct an Odyssey project entitled “View From the Mountain Sky: Serving and Interning in the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church”.
As some of you may have noticed, I did not post anything last week, and this week’s post won’t be too terribly long. However, what I do have to share this week is my second set of social media data, which will now be publicly available starting today! Not only that, but this data focuses on a different yet very important (in my opinion) group within the United Methodist Church: the youth demographic.
The “United Methodist Church in the US – Social Media Presence (Youth)” spreadsheet is structured in the same way that my Annual Conference spreadsheet is, with conference youth accounts listed for all three major social networks. Each social network has two sheets, one based on the number of likes/followers for the account and one based on membership in the church (the latter being based on line 16 “CF YOUTH”, or an equivalent line, in every conference’s 2015 statistics). With this particular set of data, I’m hoping to draw more conclusions on how the church is communicating with youth and connecting them to youth-centric events and conference/youth campaigns in the future.
If you are interested in taking a look at this data, it can be found here. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions about it by leaving a comment below!
For Americans, and truly anyone around the world, it’s been…quite a week, to put it nicely. Donald Trump has officially been President for a week and a day, and in that timespan, he has managed to:
focus a considerable amount of attention on his inaugural crowd size,
prevent several US government agencies from posting on social media, specifically after several of them posted about climate change,
sign several controversial executive orders, including ones to build the Mexico-US border wall, restart development of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, and limit refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations (unless they are Christian or another minority religious tradition),
and to quote Aziz Ansari, have “an entire gender [protest] against him.”
…and none of this gets into what has been happening with his Cabinet nominees. *cough*Betsy DeVos*cough*
These above points have caused a very wide range of reactions from all sides, but for me, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time unpacking it and thinking about the ramifications not just for our nation, but for our entire world. Therefore, I want to focus on two areas that have been affected most recently: religion and science.
Emoji: once a Japan-exclusive addition to text messaging, emoji have now become a universal method of communication that people from all generations have picked up on. These little pictures are now standard on smartphones, and they’ve even made their way onto desktops and laptops. Not only that, they’ve also become an easy way to shorthand a message without losing the original meaning (or in some cases, giving it meaning words alone couldn’t accomplish)!
So why don’t annual conferences and churches use them more often?
Hello, everyone! As you may have seen, the posts have lightened up a little bit recently, due to my return to Hendrix for the Spring 2017 semester. However, I’m not letting that stop me from writing on here, and in fact, I’ve got a few updates!
Thanks to a new program that I’ve written (called UMTracker), I can now pull social media statistics much more efficiently, and so I’m returning to approximately fortnightly (two times a month) updates on data! In fact, I just updated the “The United Methodist Church in the US – Social Media Presence” spreadsheet for the second time this January, and for the first time using this new tool. As always, you can find it at https://goo.gl/WPFbUb.
I’m currently in the pre-development stages of turning my social media research into a full-fledged school project either as a Hendrix Odyssey project or senior thesis/project. This will involve a few more data sets, so stay tuned for around three new spreadsheets full of social media data coming soon!
I also have several post topics that I’m looking at writing about, but for now, I think I’ll be limiting myself to around a post a week so as to balance this blog with school and my other duties.
And that’s all I’ve got for now! As always, I share my thoughts and research in the hopes that this ends up being of some benefit to someone, and I appreciate any comments or questions. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or leave a comment below! I always love hearing your thoughts or what your conference is doing.
As I previously mentioned in my “Does Your Conference (Or Church, For That Matter) Really Need A Mobile App?” post, I am a firm proponent of “responsive” web design. However, while I did highlight some excellent examples of some websites that look great on mobile devices from the Minnesota, New Mexico, and Pacific Northwest Conferences, I didn’t really go into my thoughts on what constitutes a good conference website. Now, “good” can be defined in a number of ways, so I decided to build a front page based on the following points:
For newcomers, it’s informative without being technical or overwhelming
For church members, it’s a one-stop shop that has everything that they need
For clergy, it has nothing they don’t already know, but everything they need to know
It has style and content that makes it feel unique and inviting
In developing the “The United Methodist Church in the US – Social Media Presence” spreadsheet, one of the first things I had to do was find each annual conference’s social media account on either Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. However, this actually proved to be a bit of a time-consuming process (two hours, according to Google Sheets) because of the differences in social media account names and usernames across networks. So, I wanted to give a few tips and tricks on identifying your conference (or any organization, including churches) easily enough to where anyone can find you with a few quick keystrokes.