Considering Unitarian Universalist ministerial identity online

Erik Resly, a Harvard Divinity School student, recently sent me his paper, “Who Do You Say That I Am?: Claiming and Maintaining an Online Ministerial Identity.” The paper presents some of the key issues that ministers face in using social media and explores different strategies for ministers engaging in relationship-building and self-presentation through social media. I found his paper very thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.

In a key paragraph, Erik writes:

In a world of complex interactions that take place in real-time, there is no perfect model for how to be a minister online. Individuals must learn to balance confidentiality, privacy and integrity with openness, honesty and accountability. They must navigate issues of consistency and reliability, while protecting free and creative self-expression. They must maintain security, while optimizing accessibility. In short, the act of creating and maintaining an online ministerial identity requires a series of compromises and trade-offs that are largely determined by authorial intent and the inscribed audience. As one minister alleged: “Social media use is as serious a use of thought and language as any other.

There are also moments of gentle humor in Erik’s paper. I particularly enjoyed this chart that he created based on his analysis of “twenty randomly selected ministerial profile pictures” on Facebook:

Erik has generously agreed to let me share his paper on this blog! For those of you who are religious professionals or are ministering online, I hope that you will find it offers useful questions and suggestions for furthering your work.

Advice for Unitarian Universalist ministers on using Foursquare

In her guest post “Foursquare and Ministry” on the UU Growth Blog, Rev. Naomi King of the River of Grass congregation in Plantation, Florida, gives examples of how she is using Foursquare successfully in her ministry. And don’t worry if you’re now wondering, “What is Foursquare?!” King also explains the basics of how this location-based social network works.

Social media trainings for Unitarian Universalists (Spring and Summer 2010)

Looking to learn the basics of using social media to serve your Unitarian Universalist congregation? Or ready for an advanced discussion of congregational social media strategies? There are trainings for both beginners and more experienced social media users coming up this spring and summer. Gather with fellow Unitarian Universalists at these events:

Integrating Social Media for UU Congregations
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM (Eastern)

This webinar presentation and Q & A session we will explore ways to integrate social media tools so content is automatically passed from one tool another. Starting with a traditional monthly newsletter content, participants will be shown how announcements can be shared via a blog format (for fee) and be set up to automatically  be shared via a Facebook page, sent out as a “tweet” on Twitter, and displayed on a congregation’s website. This webinar is sponsored by the UUA’s Ballou Channing District.

“Introduction to Social Media for Unitarian Universalist Leaders” Webinar
Wednesday, April 7, 7pm – 8:30pm (Eastern)

This is a beginner-friendly webinar before the conference that will introduce participants to the basics of different social media tools. Although this webinar is intended as a prelude to the spring conference, it is open to registrants outside the New England area as well! Space is limited and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Social Media Conference for Unitarian Universalists in the New England Area
Saturday, May 1, 9am – 4:30pm
Weston, MA

Social media will be the focus of the Mass Bay District Spring Conference!

General Assembly 2010 Workshop – “Introduction to Social Media and Public Relations”
Thursday, June 24, 9:00am – 10:15am
Minneapolis Convention Center – 205 A-D

At this beginner-friendly workshop, learn the basics of social media (including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) and public relations. The emphasis will be on practical information and examples to help you further the mission of your congregation through successful communication.

General Assembly 2010 Workshop – “Advanced Social Media”
Friday, June 25, 1:00pm – 2:15pm
Minneapolis Convention Center – 101 DE

Twitter – Facebook – blogs – RSS feeds – handheld apps – all this adds up to so much more than websites and email messaging! This advanced-level panel presentation will cover major social media tools in use by congregations, how ministry occurs through social networks, ethics and safety concerns, trends, and more.

Ferry Beach Religious Education Workshop – “Social Media and Religious Education”
July 10 – July 16
Ferry Beach in Maine

Learn about Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media, and how to integrate them in religious education.

Can you suggest any other social media trainings for Unitarian Universalists that should be added to this list? Please comment!