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Vol. VI, No. 4


We're redesigning our site!

After much thought and a desire for a fresh new look that serves our visitors, we've begun to redesign the Hartford Institute web site. We are striving for a clean and well organized site that will continue to supply the public with a vast amount of religion research.

Want to see the new look? You can see an image of the new home page on the Hartford Institute site. And we'd like to hear from you! Take a look at our new design and let us know what you think by sending an email to: feedback@hartsem.edu. We may not be able to respond to individual messages but appreciate any feedback you supply.

What are some things to think about when you redesign your site?

Things may have changed for your church or organization since you first designed your site so while you'll want to keep much of the information you already have, you may want to reconsider how it is organized or even your word usage for your navigation options. Start with these questions:

1. Who is the audience? Is the site used by outsiders or is it primarily used by our members?

2. What is the scope? Should it be more than a glorified brochure or bulletin or should the site become an engaging, multimedia advertisement for the church?

3. What is the aim? Is it bringing in the unchurched? Is it educating and informing your members? Or is it serving as a resource for pastors, the seeker, or other churches around the world?

4. What should we emphasize? Is our emphasis in the right place or should the site focus solely on the worship, or on a major ministry, or on the youth? Are we featuring the aspects of the church that we are most proud of?

5. Who can produce the site now? Do we have the same resources available to us as before or will we need to find someone within the congregation or an outside company?

6. Who will continue to be responsible for the site? Does that person need assistance? Are they able to respond to all inquiries or gather all of the information needed for the site. If not, are there any other available individuals that can help?

So, while it may seem that you are asking yourself the same questions as before, you have to remember that the same questions will apply to your redesign but your experiences and the knowledge you gained from the first launch of your site will help you to improve the usefulness of a new design. Good luck!

Summer Educational Opportunities at Hartford Seminary:

  • Megachurches - with Dr. Scott Thumma
    June 12-16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    There are more than 1,200 megachurches in the U.S., and while less than half a percent of all congregations, they attract more attention than all other religious communities in the nation combined. This course will look at the phenomenon to understand the common characteristics of megachurches, how they function, why they are attractive.
  • Informing Congregational Ministry: Intersections of Theology, Social Science, and History with Dr. Jim Nieman
    June 26–June 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    The field of congregational studies is always changing, and this course offers the chance to see emerging developments. Students will be introduced to underlying issues, listen to the scholarly discussion itself, and reflect upon its usefulness in light of their own places of ministry.
  • ONLINE: Understanding Islam: Rumor and Reality with Dr. Jane Smith
    June 5–June 23
    This introductory course is designed to meet the growing need since 9-11 for basic information about Islam. It will cover Islamic beliefs and practices, issues faced by Muslims living in the West, the role of women in Islam, and current efforts at Muslim-Christian dialogue. 

What's New:

  • Our May Quick Question examines where most megachurches are located around the United States.
  • We've posted several articles by Cynthia Woolever from the US Congregational Life Survey.
  • "Church, Identity, and Change," written by faculty members David Roozen and James Nieman. is now available. This book offers an unprecedented, in-depth, inside look at the church today through the lens of eight diverse Protestant denominations.
  • Interested in Decoding the DaVinci code? We've posted several readings and other information from the weeklong online course by the same title at Hartford Seminary. Taught by Revd. Canon Professor Martyn Percy and Dr. Ian Markham, this course addressed the theological truth behind the highly popular book The DaVinci Code.
  • Hartford Seminary Dean Ian Markham and Martyn Percy have a new book out titled Why Liberal Churches Are Growing. Read more about this book on the Blackwell web site.
  • We'll be emailing a press release soon with information on the latest findings from the Faith Communities Today project. Stay tuned!


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