Information to Include (Or Leave Out) of a Congregational Website
A Basic Checklist
- Congregation name and complete meeting address (and mailing address, if different).
- The name of the building you meet in, if different from your congregation name.
- Directions to your building—include text instructions and perhaps a map: MapQuest, Google Maps.
- Telephone number.
- Web editor email address.
- Congregation email address.
- Fax number—if your congregation has email but no fax, services such as efax.com and callwave.com will give you a free fax-to-email phone number.
- Meeting times and schedule of other services for adults and children; upcoming sermon topics and RE topics are a nice addition (see "Guidelines for Church Electronic Newsletters").
- Accessibility information: Is your meeting place wheelchair accessible? Is there handicapped parking? Are there large-print hymnals? Headphones in the sanctuary?
- What to wear; especially for children if your RE program has activities unsuited for "Sunday Best" clothes, but important info for the comfort of all first-time visitors.
- Short statement of beliefs—some people may have surfed onto your page not knowing what the heck a Unitarian Universalist is; write your own intro, and/or include links to some of the following:
- Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Principles & Purposes.
- "Welcome to Unitarian Universalism: A Community of Truth, Service, Holiness and Love," by Tom Owen-Towle, is an introductory UUA pamphlet.
- "Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith," by Mark W. Harris, is another useful UUA pamphlet.
- About Unitarian Universalism: UUA.org's Visitor section.
- A link to UUA.org (banners provided).
- A link to your district and region.
- A Newcomer FAQ is helpful. A simple thing like letting people know what to wear can help new people get up the courage to visit, and feel more at home right away. Consider including a page with answers to "What Newcomers Want to Know Before Their First Visit". Here are two examples by Paint Creek UU Congregation and UU Fellowship of Stanislaus County. Basic questions:
- What should I [and my children] wear to this church? [This is by far the most frequent query.]
- Is there childcare/Sunday School during church?
- If my child doesn't separate well, can she or he stay with me in the service?
- Are there any [insert race] people in this congregation?
- Are people of [race] welcome in this congregation?
- Are there bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered people in this congregation? Are they welcome?
- Are there people in the congregation who believe [insert belief here]?
- What goes on during the worship services?
Thanks to Ted Pack of the Stanislaus Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship, CA, and author of "Suggestions for Church Web Sites," and the websters list for these recommendations.
Better Left Out
Ask permission before posting:
- Personal information about your members (phone numbers, addresses).
- Photos of your members.
Guidelines for Church Electronic Newsletters offers advice about how to edit a newsletter for sharing on a public website.
See Permissions Needed for Photography or Videography at Congregational Events from the New Media for Unitarian Universalists blog for some useful tips about posting pictures and video of your members.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.