Company Helps Bridge the Digital Divide by Giving Churches Free Websites

Don Vaccaro and the Rev. Boise Kimber have launched Grace Church Websites for churches and nonprofit organizations. (Photo courtesy of Allison Simoes)
Don Vaccaro and the Rev. Boise Kimber have launched Grace Church Websites for churches and nonprofit organizations. (Photo courtesy of Allison Simoes)

Members of Trueworship Tabernacle used to walk their Corpus Christi, Texas, neighborhood, passing out fliers about upcoming events.

But in March, the small, multicultural church got a new website.

Six months later, its online postings helped boost attendance at its “Youth Car Wash and Enchilada Sale” as well as its “Hallelujah Night” on Halloween.

“It has been a really great tool as far as witnessing to the community and bringing people into the church,” said Pastor Ahmad Haywood, who leads the congregation attended most Sundays by 25 to 40 people.

In February, TicketNetwork executive Don Vaccaro started Grace Church Websites to meet a need he discovered while talking to his friend, the Rev. Boise Kimber of New Haven, Conn.

“We had purchased a website for over $1,000 and the persons that we purchased the website from, they disappeared,” said Kimber, of his predominantly black First Calvary Baptist Church.

After a discussion with Vaccaro, Kimber’s church now has a free website. It became the role model for the company the two men launched.

More than 670 participating churches and nonprofits, many of them predominantly black or Hispanic, have new sites. They include African Methodist Episcopal, Church of the Nazarene, United Methodist and nondenominational congregations as well as chapters of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

“A lot of people could not afford to buy the domain and some of the churches are rural churches,” said Kimber. “We are certainly dealing with the digital divide and trying to open the doors for more advancement for people who are in need.”

The websites have similar templates — including an “about us” page, a listing of service times and a contact page. Some churches make regular changes to the sites, adding calendar dates for choir rehearsals and Bible study conference calls. Each site also includes links to Grace Church Websites and TicketNetwork, which hosts an online exchange for buyers and sellers of tickets to sports and entertainment events.

But other churches haven’t used their sites as much and still have avatars displaying a gray silhouette rather than the actual photos of leaders of the church.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Religion News Service
Adelle M. Banks

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