Local business owners put gifts, talent to work for their church

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Local business owners put gifts, talent to work for their church

July 10, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0327} 

An e-Review News Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Hyde Park United Methodist Church officials are hoping the church's compact disc will orient members and new comers alike to the church and its many ministries. Photo by Caryl Kelley, Photo #05-209.

TAMPA — Hyde Park United Methodist Church has a new way to orient new members and visitors to the church, thanks to an innovative couple.

Cheryl and John Parrish, owners of Tampa's CDs-2-GO Inc., decided to put their gifts and talents to work for the church by creating an interactive CD-ROM that would help "demystify" the experience of getting involved for new members, as well as introduce the church to seekers.

The couple, who have attended the church for nine years and joined nearly two years ago, spent about a year working on the project around other business commitments. Their marketing company has specialized in the development of interactive communications media for a national clientele base, which includes health-care, education, manufacturing, corporate, travel and leisure, and other industries, since 1996.

The compact discs were distributed to members as they left services Easter Sunday, and more were given out in the following weeks. They are also distributed to every person in the church's new member class, which Cheryl Parrish thinks is a good idea. Although she and her husband attended services on a regular basis they still felt somewhat overwhelmed when it came to the many ministries of the church, which has a little more than 2,000 members.

"Although we were attending services pretty regularly, we really didn't know how to begin to get to know people or how to get involved with anything," she said. "We felt sort of like 'outsiders looking in.' "

Once they became more involved, Parrish said it occurred to them they could produce an interactive CD-ROM presentation for the church that would help newcomers and seekers become more familiar with the church and more comfortable getting involved. " ... It would also be a great way for us to contribute our gifts and talents, so that felt great," she said.

Parrish said the church was particularly suited for the multi-media project because it already had various resources available that could be used for the project, such as video footage and many photos. A church that doesn't have those kinds of resources could develop a more "directory-oriented" presentation that would rely more heavily on voice-over narration and less on visual support, Parrish added.

The Rev. Magrey deVega, an associate pastor at the church, said the compact disc has been a great tool.

"The intent of the CD is to spark interest among members of the congregation to find their place in ministry in the church and grow in their path to discipleship," he said.

deVega said the compact disc also serves another purpose. Following the Easter distribution, he said there was a week in May when church staff encouraged members to take multiple copies and give them to their friends.

"In addition to being a pitch for people to get active in the church, the CD communicates that Hyde Park is an alive, dynamic place to worship and discover God," he said.

Parrish, who worked closely with church staff, said she had two goals in mind when working on the project.

"Our primary hope is that it will help the members of our congregation take the first, or the next, step in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ by becoming involved with the church outside of simply attending Sunday services," she said. "Our secondary hope is that it will be used as a 'referral tool' — that our members will pass the CDs along to others, to give them a slice of the Hyde Park United Methodist Church experience; not only to motivate them to visit and join, but to do so in a way that communicates what our church is really all about."

Parrish said the project was a labor of love because of the couple's deep affection for church.

"We love Hyde Park United Methodist Church for being the bright, energetic, friendly, welcoming, sometimes imperfect and always human, wonderful, exciting, passionate, motivated and spiritually-grounded place that it is — where we can be a small, humble part of 'Making God's Love Real.' "


This article relates to Discipleship and Outreach.

*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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