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Conference launches Internet community

Conference launches Internet community

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference launches Internet community

March 23, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0643}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference and several other conferences and national United Methodist agencies have partnered to create a new kind of online network in The United Methodist Church.

Called 7Villages, the goal is to create an online system that will allow United Methodists and others to connect locally and nationally — to share stories, ideas, resources, needs and more.

7Villages allows people to connect with each other by based on what they do or their interests. Choir directors, youth ministers, Sunday school teachers, pastors and laity can create a local or national village and invite others who share their ministry to join them.

According to promotional material for 7Villages, the online product is really four things in one: a social network for people who want to make the world a better place; a blogging system to share thoughts, resources, tools and tips; a community library of best practices and ideas; and a volunteer connecting system that allows individuals and groups to find opportunities and groups with needs to find help.

To be part of the 7Villages network, individuals or groups create a “village” through the 7Villages button on the Florida Conference Web site at The conference has its own village at

Don Youngs, Florida Conference Web site administrator, has been looking forward to the launch of 7Villages for almost a year. He feels it is the missing link in the conference’s Web site ministry.

“7Villages will finally allow us to offer Florida Conference churches and members the opportunity to easily network, not only throughout the conference, but across the nation and eventually around the world,” Youngs said. “7Villages gives our users the flexibility to reach out in ways we could never do through our conventional Web site and yet stay connected to the conference and The United Methodist Church.”

Already, hundreds of villages — groups of people sharing common interests — have sprung up on 7Villages. The Florida Conference village has already had conversations about storm recovery and church signage.

“As the word gets out and more people join the villages, our information sharing only gets stronger,” Youngs said. “Right now, we’re small, but we anticipate this growing well into the future.”

7Villages is a product of BrickRiver Technologies, based in New Hampshire. It is also being used to form online communities at the newly redesigned denominational Web site,


This article relates to Florida Conference Communications.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.