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Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Department of Internet Ministries

Report to the Archdiocesan Council
September 27, 2002

The mission of Internet Ministries is to follow the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ who said: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16.15). Internet Ministries is dedicated to utilizing the medium of computers and the Internet for the proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel and for the advancement of Orthodox Christian ministry.

Internet Ministries is charged with the development and expansion of the Archdiocese's presence on the Internet and the World Wide Web, as well as the integration of new Internet technologies for Orthodox Christian ministry. In this capacity, Internet Ministries manages and facilitates Internet development for all Archdiocesan departments, institutions, and organizations. The department also coordinates computer-based multimedia development for the Archdiocese.

The Department of Internet Ministries (an expansion of the former Orthodox Ministry ACCESS) is the result of the vision and support of Leadership 100.

Clergy-Laity, 2002, Internet Ministries launched a new web site for the Archdiocese. This new web site, made possible by a grant from Leadership 100, offers new and revolutionary tools for Archdiocesan communications and parish ministry. The new site will contain dozens of new features including: a completely new site design, a new calendar of saints lives, an online chapel with the daily Gospel and Epistle readings, a searchable national calendar of events, weekly video programs, and a new online parish directory.

The new Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website offers a vast selection of inspirational, educational, multimedia, and interactive content on the Orthodox Christian faith and life. The site has been completely redesigned and rebuilt with over 80% of the content being either new or updated.

This new site is intended to be the premiere resource for Orthodox Christians who wish to learn more about their faith, fundamental for non-Orthodox who desires to learn more about Orthodox Christianity, and an indispensable resource for those involved in ministry at any level. Most importantly, however, it serves as an essential ministry to our faithful and a vital evangelistic medium for spreading the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are proud that this site both reflects and continues the department's mission and tradition of using technology, the Internet, and multimedia to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

The Archdiocese web site is one of the most active Orthodox Christian web sites on the Internet.  Since its launch this past Clergy-Laity Congress, July, 2002, the website has received

  1. 22,315,200 total hits for an average of 185,960 hits a day,
  2. 605,040 unique visitor sessions for an average of 5,042 per day, and
  3. 164,612 unique visitors (or computers)

The most popular sections after the Home Page include:

1.      Our Faith Section:  A virtual library of articles and resources, which teach the faith to the online user.

2.      Online Chapel:  The heart and soul of this website, this section offers the daily Bible Readings, daily saints and feasts commemorated, the ability to search for any saint or feast and receive the apolytikion, kontakion, and life or description, when available, a weekly reflection by an Orthodox priest, virtual reality tours, liturgical service texts, a Learn to Chant section, an Orthodox Calendar, with the ability to receive in order of rank are as follows:

The new Archdiocese site is the first of three forthcoming releases, which are being made possible with a grant from the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund.

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New home page: The new home page is visually stunning. It features:

  • The Saints and feasts celebrated each day
  • Icon of the festal period being celebrated in the Orthodox Church's liturgical cycle
  • The day's Scripture readings
  • The latest Archdiocese news and events
  • A weekly, full length video feature on the Orthodox faith and life
  • A spotlight on one of the various departments and ministries of the Archdiocese
  • An integrated Bible search.
  • Since the launch, the Home Page has received 124,837 page views or 88,837 visitors.  This is an average of 46,687 page views per month or 33,001 unique visitors (computers) per month.

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Redesigned User Interface and Search Engine: The new user interface and search engine empower visitors to find relevant material quickly and easily


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Online Chapel: This is THE most exciting section of the new site. This new section expresses the rich liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church. It provides inspirational spiritual content for Orthodox Christians including live broadcasts of liturgical services, an online calculator for determining the date of Easter and moveable Feasts, the lives of the Saints, the texts of the daily Scripture readings, prayers from the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church appropriate to the time of day that you log into the site, and a weekly reflection.

 

Since the launch, Online Chapel received an average of 6,274 page views per month or an average of 4,717 unique visitors per month.

 


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Orthodox Calendar: The new online calendar lists the saints commemorated for each day of the year with a link to the life of the saint commemorated. It also functions as a fasting calendar for the entire year, marking which days in the year are fast days or fast free days. Finally, the calendar lists all the major feasts of the Orthodox Christian Church including Pascha (Easter).

 

Since the launch, the Orthodox Calendar has received an average of 6,275 page views per month or 4,717 unique visits per month.


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Parish Directory: How can you find the nearest Greek Orthodox parish? The new online parish directory allows individuals to find any Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States. This new parish directory features searching for parishes by zip code, an online map of a parish's location, and driving directions.

 

Since the launch, the Parish Directory received an average of 10,472 unique page views per month or 6,223 unique visitors per month.


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Learn to Chant: The rich hymnographic tradition of the Orthodox Church is now being brought online so that you can learn the various hymns in Greek and English. In our first phase of this section, visitors to the site can now listen to and learn the hymns of the Divine Liturgy and the Sunday Orthros services online. This section is complemented with the complete texts of these services in English.

 

Since the launch, the Learn to Chant Section received an average of 2,642 page views page views or 1,949 unique visitors per month.


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Multimedia: Over 60 full-length educational videos on the Orthodox Christian faith, live Internet broadcasts of church services, virtual reality tours of churches, distance learning classes, and online radio programs highlight this expanded section.

 

Since the launch, the Audio section received an average of 10,922 page views per month or 4,681 unique visitors per month.

 

The Video section received an average of 5,575 page views per month or 3,216 unique visitors per month.

 


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Our Faith: Individuals wishing to learn more about the Orthodox faith will find dozens of articles covering a variety of topics such as biblical studies, apologetics, spirituality, theology, and worship.

 

Since the launch, the Our Faith has been the most popular section after the Home Page. It has received an average of 29,260 page views per month or 14,319 unique visitors per month.


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Ministry Resources: Clergy, youth workers, teachers, and lay assistants will find a plethora of practical tools for parish ministry including sermons, clip art, youth ministry sessions, and stewardship campaigns

 

Ministry Resources has received an average of 18,780 page views per month or 9,122 unique visitors per month.


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Ministry Outreach of the Archdiocese: Assistance for spouses, couples, and families of interfaith marriages; the philanthropic work of the Archdiocese; foster care for children; assistance for the poor, destitute, and elderly; religious education; youth and young adult ministry; global relief efforts of the Orthodox Church; and the missionary work of the Orthodox Church highlight this new section of the site.


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About the Archdiocese: This new web site contains expanded and updated information on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, its history and mission, departments, ministries, institutions, and organizations. This section also features official documents of the Archdiocese, PDF copies of the Archdiocese yearbook and the Clergy-Laity Congress web sites.

 

 

Responding to the tragic events of September 11th, last year, the Department of Internet Ministries established a web site for the clergy, laity and news media. This web site features extensive resources including: psalms, special prayers, and services of intercession; an extensive photo gallery of the Church’s response; sermons; youth ministry sessions and Sunday School lesson plans on these tragic events; guides for parents.

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The Website contained the following sections

  1. Latest News
  2. The September 11 Memorial Brochure in PDF format which was published and sent to all the Churches by the Archdiocese
  3. A Pastoral Message from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios in Video format, filmed by GOTelecom
  4. A high resolution downloadable image of the September 11 Memorial Collage to be used by parishes, organizations, and media for distribution
  5. A section for the St. Nicholas Church
  6. A section for our Clergy
  7. A section for Youth and Parents
  8. A section for the Faithful in General
  9. A Photo Gallery
  10. A Section Entitled:  The Churches Response to September 11
  11. A link to the National Days of Prayer address from the White House
  12. A link to the Patriot Day address from the White House
  13. A link to the Concept Plans for Rebuilding

In an effort to assist Orthodox parishes, organizations, and institutions create a presence on the Internet; the Department of Internet Ministries is offering a variety of free and discounted services.  Free services include

  1. Web hosting of parish and organizational web sites,
  2. Email listservers,
  3. Web-based calendar software,
  4. Online message boards and chat rooms,
  5. Multiple email accounts
  6. E-mail listservers and more.

Additional services include

  1. Live and on demand multimedia streaming support,
  2. Interactive news tickers,
  3. 3-D site map generation,
  4. Online donations,
  5. Setting up parish web site domain names and more.

Below is a more detailed report of the services offered:

Since 1996, Internet Ministries has provided free web site hosting for all parishes, institutions, and organizations in the Archdiocese. Through this program, dozens of parishes have been able to build and develop their web sites and also take advantage of many current and new Internet technologies used by the Archdiocese, such as dynamic news generation; live and archived Internet broadcasting; interactive chat rooms; e-mail listservers; 3-D site map generation; and multiple e-mail accounts.

Internet Ministries has licensed web-based calendar software for all parishes and organizations in the Archdiocese. This software is being made available free of charge through the Department of Internet Ministries. The software provides an interactive calendar of events to keep parishioners and organizational members abreast of upcoming events.

Internet Ministries provides live audio and video broadcasting services over the Internet in Real Audio and Real Video format. Each week, the Archdiocese broadcasts the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church via the Internet live. Since beginning this free service for parishes in 1997, the department has broadcast hundreds of liturgical services and dozens of educational classes.

His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos made us acutely aware of the very real and tangible benefits of this ministry, when he asked us to set up a connection from his home so that he could participate in the Holy Week services via the Internet.  Not allowed by his physicians to leave his home, His Eminence reflected to us with thanksgiving to God and tears in his eyes, how he was still able to pray with the community because of this new technology. 

This ministry provides an opportunity for the elderly and ailing that are home bound to continue to have a sense of liturgical worship and community.  This is a ministry, which reaches out to the Orthodox who do not have a Church because of distance or travel, to continue to hear the Word of God and remain connected to their faith.  This is a ministry which is growing and needs to continue to grow, so that we may have a church in every time zone broadcasting its services for the faithful, and as a witness to the un-Churched.

A full listing of live broadcasts is available online at:
http://live.goarch.org/.

Currently we have live liturgical services broadcast every week from the following parishes.  It is our hope to expand to even more Churches, covering every time zone and diocese:

Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church
Orange, CT

Archdiocese Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
New York City

Church of the Holy Cross
Belmont, CA

In addition to the live broadcasts of the Divine Liturgy, the Department of Internet Ministries facilitates numerous Internet broadcasts such as lectures and symposia from parishes, and the Religious Education Internet School of Orthodox studies.  The Internet School of Orthodox Studies is a weekly live audio web cast of a class taught at Holy Cross School of Theology.

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September 18, 2002, marks the third anniversary of the Enthronement of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios as the sixth Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.

A section was created on the website to remember this day and its significance for our Archdiocese. 

Pages were created for people to view

  1. The Enthronement video by GOTelecom,
  2. Photographs from the service
  3. The text of His Eminence’s address,
  4. The biography of His Eminence, and
  5. The ability to see his recent pastoral ministry as the shepherd of the Greek Orthodox faithful in America, through Journey of Faith

To witness to Christ and fulfill His divine commission is the touchstone of Archbishop Demetrios' archpastoral ministry. His ministry is a teaching ministry, a preaching ministry, a ministry of concern and compassion, an apostolic ministry devoted to transforming the Word of God into a living reality for the precious flock entrusted to his care.

With the creation of a new section of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website devoted exclusively to chronicling the pastoral ministry of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, it is now possible to share more fully in the rich witness of the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.  It will foster greater unity and spiritual growth as we draw closer to him and every Church community he visits, through his pastoral ministry, online.

With the Journey of Faith website, one can travel with the Archbishop as he sojourns across the land spreading the salvific message of Christ to the faithful. One can listen to his sermons and share in his testimony of faith and his words of pastoral guidance.

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Journey of Faith, as it grows and expands online, will allow the entire Archdiocesan community and world, via the Internet to:

  1. Tour alongside the spiritual leader of our Church in the United States to more fully appreciate the vibrant and dynamic parishes, ministries and institutions that comprise the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
  2. Read articles of the Archbishop's visit and share in his ministry and that of our Hierarchs, clergy, and laity.
  3. Hear the Word of God preached by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.
  4. See in video or digital photography the Archbishop carry out his pastoral ministry and be further inspired as you persevere in the sacred work of the Church.

UPCOMING NEW FEATURES AND TOOLS

The new web site will provide a number of new features and enhancements including:

  1. A module that will empower the Archdiocese departments and ministries to update their respective web sites without knowledge of HTML.
  2. A revamped communications module with a dedicated section for the press and media.
  3. A new Orthodox Observer online edition
  4. The ability for parishes to create and publish their bulletins online.
  5. Online Personalized Donations with E-Cards.  This would be a secure and personalized system that would allow individuals to donate to the Archdiocese, its departments, dioceses, institutions, organizations, and parishes online.  The E-Card portion allows for these donations to be personalized and presented in a tactful and respectful manner.

BOSTON OFFICE

With the help of Leadership 100, the Department of Internet Ministries is nearing the completion of its office in Brookline on the campus of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology.  The office has been staffed since February 2001.  These past few months, seminarians have been working in the office, gathering and editing new Orthodox content--books, articles, sermons, liturgical services, liturgical readings, and retreats--to be utilized for the new modules and tools of the new website, as well as the library of information and resources which will be provided about our faith.  We are continuing in the process of making it once again a center for Internet publishing and production for the Orthodox world.

The office provides seminarians the opportunity to work in the department and contribute in a concrete and tangible way to the work and mission of the Archdiocese. At the same time, the students will take the knowledge learned back to their parishes.  This program was begun in the 1993-1994 academic year with Hellenic College and Holy Cross.

The office also provides an opportunity for the professors of Hellenic College/Holy Cross to submit their academic writings and pastoral reflections for the website, allowing the parishes to be continually nourished with new Orthodox materials.

The Orthodox Actionline Online ministry was begun in 1996.  The vision of this program was to take the model of the Orthodox Actionline’s 800 number ministry and bring it to the Internet.  This program continues to be an integral part of the Field Education Program of Holy Cross School of Theology, facilitating in the development of future priests and lay leaders.  

Internet Ministries continues to offer free web site hosting to all canonical parishes and organizations of the Archdiocese.  Through this program, parishes are able to build a presence on the Internet and reach out to not only their local members, but to Internet users from around the world.  In addition to the parishes, the department hosts Archdiocese organizational and institutional web sites as well.

Internet Ministries continues to offer free email to the entire Archdiocese organizations, institutions and parishes.  The department currently provides email to all of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology, OCMC, various dioceses and parishes in the Archdiocese.

Over the 18 months, the Technology Committee has been exploring an affinity partnership with national online service providers such as AOL and Earthlink, among others.  Unfortunately, the Archdiocese is too small to qualify for these partnerships.  The Department will, however, revisit this issue should these program guidelines change.

The Department of Internet Ministries is seeking to bring the Internet as a more integral tool into the day-to-day operations of the Archdiocese and its parishes in order to streamline workflow and reduce costs.  The Department of Internet Ministries is currently putting together a proposal to digitize the Archdiocesan registry system via the Internet.

 The Department of Internet Ministries is currently exploring the possibilities of broadcasting the liturgical services at Hellenic College and Holy Cross as well as the symposia, conferences, and educational seminars hosted at the Maliotis Center of Hellenic College and Holy Cross. The limiting factor in these projects consists in the lack of necessary infrastructure to broadcast from the Chapel, the Maliotis Center, and the Administration Building of the Hellenic College/Holy Cross.

In a number of industry Internet publications, surveys have been conducted to evaluate whether the “.com” crash has impacted business spending for Internet service. The answer has been “no.”  In fact, companies are estimating that their spending on Internet technologies will increase.  Since the Internet is becoming a more integral and will continue to become a more integral part of lives (as witnessed especially with the tragic events of September 11, 2001) and the way in which we conduct business, it is imperative that the Department of Internet Ministries’ budget and staffing be adjusted accordingly.  Until 1998, the department had three full time staff members with as many as 5 part-time students assisting in the department.  The current staff of the department consists of two full time staff members, only. 

The Internet Ministries Department, located at Holy Cross School of Theology is also just one of many Archdiocesan departments present on campus.  The Department of Religious Education, a Resource Center of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and a main office of the Department of Greek Language and Culture all reside at Holy Cross, and work intricately with the Department of Internet Ministries.  The Internet Ministries staff must be expanded to three-four full time employees over the next 12 months and 5 full time employees over the next 24 months in order to meet the growing demands and needs of the Archdiocese.  Likewise, the Internet Ministries budget must be adjusted accordingly.

The Department is also looking at other ways for providing its services.  It is imperative that the various departmental and institutional ministries of the Archdiocese not be hindered or slowed because of a lack of resources.

Currently the computer network at Holy Cross School of Theology does not connect to the Holy Cross Chapel, or the Maliotis Center.  This hinders the capability to provide online programming of Holy Cross worship services, the online webcasting of seminars and conferences, the online webcasting of future classes from the Maliotis Center.

It should be noted that the Internet service provided to Hellenic College/Holy Cross is unstable, going down many times for days, even up to a week.  As such, the department is recommending that the appropriate steps and backup lines be installed to rectify this situation.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Bill T. Flegas
Assistant Director
Internet Ministries
September 20, 2002