It was an awkward moment back in January. There I was with the Barclay Viewforth Communications team staring at pages on a draft website. It had failed to inspire any of us. That included me, despite spending hours on it over the Christmas holidays. I felt flat despite the reassurances of the team.
What was God up to here? Or was it presumption on my part? A few months previously at a Kirk Session meeting, we’d been discussing different ways we can ‘make God’s love known’ through our day to day activities and relationships. ‘Social Media’ (Facebook etc) and other ways we interact with others via the internet came up;I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment about the potential of our online ‘presence’. The invitation to take on the role of Webmaster after Gavin Easton moved on last year seemed to be just the opportunity I was looking for. I didn’t need to be asked twice!
Our old website had served us well, but I felt that it didn’t reflect where we are at now. I thought I’d make a start by updating the photos and adding a few pages. Not so easy! In fact I discovered that I had very little scope other than to add sermons, the magazine, notice sheets and events. That’s when I decided to have a go at setting up a new website. It ended with the sobering realisation that I didn’t have the necessary design skills or the expertise in website coding to turn that into reality. Accepting that was difficult for someone who prides himself on his I.T skills and partly depends on them for making a living!
Trust Him though and look what He can do. It turned out that we have a skilled, talented but unassuming graphics designer in our church family, Katelynne Kirk! The moment she turned on her computer and showed us her initial designs we knew, ‘that’s it! That’s what we’re after!’ The strong visual element with people to the fore. The areas of our church life and witness carefully mapped out. We were really fired up!
Next we needed someone to turn the design into website reality, no mean feat as I had discovered in my stumbling efforts! We weren’t an easy customer to take on. We wanted someone to do all the hard work of setting up a website to our design and specification, then hand that over to us to manage thereafter, to be responsible for the look of it as well as the content. Again it was thanks to Katelynne through one of her work contacts that we discovered Claire Brotherton who runs her own web design and development company, ‘A Bright Clear Web’. We had high hopes following our email exchanges and haven’t been disappointed. From the start she listened very carefully to what we wanted and did all she could to achieve that, as well as offering useful suggestions for improvement. She was upfront with us where what we wanted wasn’t ‘do-able’ and provided good alternatives. Her commitment to the job has been exceptional, helping us to know what we needed to do and keep us on track.
Why do I keep talking about ‘we’? Part of the learning for me in this process has been that it will require a team effort for the website to be effective. It can’t be left to one person. Who are the Barclay Viewforth Web Team then? I’ve already mentioned Katelynne and Claire. Elaine Hogan has been an inspirational member from the start too. Where would we be without her irrepressible enthusiasm and high work rate? Certainly there would be a lot less content on the website since she’s filled so many of the gaps as well as identifying who we needed to write what and gently (but relentlessly) chasing them up! Also she has been tireless seemingly in the ‘behind the scenes’ essentials like taking so many of the photos that are such a feature of the new site. Also we’re indebted to our wonderful Session Clerk, John Ritchie who has accepted one of the web editor roles and beavered away on it with us. We’re hoping that the team will grow to include others who feel called to use their gifts in this way too.
Every team needs support and we’ve enjoyed plenty of that so far. Janet Darling, our Treasurer has been positive and encouraging from the start and our Kirk Session has given us wholehearted support and very helpful feedback. Then there’s all of you who have provided the material for the website, directly (-by writing it) or indirectly (-by living it). If you don’t see the way you are serving Him represented somewhere, we want to hear from you! This website is about how our God makes His love known through Jesus in and through each one of us, with our different gifts and callings. In particular we’d like to hear from any of you who feels that you’ve got something to offer and would like to join the web team.
Thank you, all!