Papers related to the use of information technology within religious organizations.
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Zotero for Faith Communities: Encouraging Faith Thinking and Sharing Through an Information Management Tool06/05/2014
Zotero, known as a research tool for students, faculty, and other scholars, has tremendous potential for use in faith communities as a place to store and share nearly any type of digital information encountered in congregational life. This presentation opens with a basic overview of available research managers. It continues with the use of Zotero at Liberation Christian Church, and covers the benefits (including a more fully-integrated intellectual presence in the congregation’s faith life) and potential issues (such as copyright concerns) of using Zotero within faith communities. It concludes with the marketing and educational efforts involved in generating the interest and skills that congregational leadership and members must have in order to obtain full benefits from the use of this resource.
Religious information literacy (an integration of the content of religious literacy and the processes of information literacy) is largely inadequate in the lives of many congregations to sustain mature faith. Current religious education efforts in congregations often do little to alleviate this issue, focusing on the content of religious belief rather than belief contexts and processes. What happens when scholarly tools enter into congregational life? How can faith communities who are interested in intellectual development and informal digital archives use the research management tool Zotero to meet their information management needs to keep, develop, and share their faith, both within and outside of their congregation? How can the particular faith community of Liberation Christian Church (a 50-member new church start in St. Louis, Missouri that is perpetually short on funds and doesn’t own a building) have information sharing tools and resources that meet their needs?
The above questions were investigated qualitatively through observing and interviewing church members during the development and implementation of Liberation Christian Church’s Zotero library. These explorations took place during the processes of introducing and educating clergy and laypeople on the use of Zotero. Much of this research was accomplished during the teaching of an 8-week religious information literacy course, Information Salvation, at Liberation. The above questions were also researched via literature reviews and searches regarding current uses of Zotero and other online digital tools and resources, particularly those outside of traditional academic institutions. Literature searches were also conducted on successful methods of e-resource marketing, education, and implementation, particularly for organizations beyond traditional academia.
Much research about religion and information has focused on religious institutions of higher learning, rather than communities of faith and the education and transformation of laypeople. People in faith communities have often not had access to the training, tools, and resources available within academic institutions that would allow them to intellectually engage in their faith lives with greater clarity and depth. I anticipate that Liberation’s growing use of Zotero (both Liberation’s Zotero group library and church members' personal accounts) will increase Liberation members’ use of congregational information resources and grow Liberation’s faith development intellectually.
I also anticipate this project will provide Liberation Christian Church and other faith communities with opportunities to more fully integrate the mind and heart of faith in the everyday Christian journey. I hope I am able to adequately portray the value of academic tools and resources to clergy, laity, and other interested parties, so that such things will become embedded into congregational life. Congregations who use these tools with success may be an example for other faith communities interested in growing their faith intellectually. I am interested in what happens when congregations are presented with religious information literacy learning opportunities on par with information literacy initiatives in institutions of higher learning. I anticipate this project will provide a practical example for religious leaders and communities who are interested in integrating scholarly tools into congregational life.
This paper examines the process of a modern mission agency's transition from desktop and server based systems to social media and cloud based solutions. Mission agencies have existed since the modern 1850s and represent early implementations of globally distributed collaborative groups. This study examines the process of one mission agency working through the transition to modern social computing to create and share knowledge between its home office, missionaries, donors, and churches. Because these agencies have unique religious affiliations, they are not normally accessible to external researchers.
This study provides a unique glimpse into the process of one mission as it has worked through this transition. The goal was to investigate the use of Web 2.0 technologies, social media, learning management system (LMS), and customer relationship management systems (CRM) type personnel systems within a globally distributed modern mission agency.
The theoretical perspectives of Pask's conversation theory, Wenger's communities of [SS1] practice, and Weick's sensemaking merged to form a multilevel epistemological framework to examine the social construction of knowledge in technical systems. A multiple case study approach was used where each system was its own case. Successes and failures were examined to look for commonalities and best practices. These systems were within a single organization sharing a common cultural and technical context. This context served as a control for these factors creating a natural experiment. Structured interviews were conducted with a wide range of individuals across all levels of the organization to collect data on the implementation and usage of these systems.
[SS1]It still seems a bit choppy. Perhaps include something like, these organizations will be reviewed in light of Pask’s conversation theory…
Keywords: mission agency, social media, constructivism, Gordon Pask, conversation theory, Karl Weick, sensemaking, Etienne Wenger, community of practice, participatory network
Islam is the official religion in Saudi Arabia. It plays a central role in people life. It has been said that Islam is more than a religion; it is a way of life. Therefore, reading and learning religious information is a habit that Saudis practice to increase their understanding of Islamic rules. In the past, most people used to learn about the religion from traditional resources such as books, journals, and TV programs. The advent of the Internet has changed information seeking behavior of people when searching for religious information.
The study reports on a survey that was distributed to people in Saudi Arabia to investigate the use of social media technologies for religious information seeking. The objective is to determine if Saudis utilize social media to search for religious information and to understand their information-seeking behaviors when using such resource. Also, the study is an attempt to explore how social media affects their knowledge and learning style.
Reading and learning religious information is a habit that Saudis practice to increase their understanding of Islamic rules. In the past, most people used to learn about the religion from traditional resources such as books, journals, and TV programs. With the advent of social media on the Internet, religious information and resources have become accessible through this new channel. Unfortunately, there is no study that tries to investigate the use of social media or its content in the subject of religion. Therefore, this study explores to what extent Saudis utilize social media to find religious information, and how it affects their knowledge and learning style.
This is an exploratory study that applied a questionnaire (quantitative treatment) to collect data related to the population.
The result of this paper is anticipated to draw a clear picture of the utilization of social media to obtain information relating to religion among people in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it is anticipated that social media use might reveal how people thoughts and believes have changed and affected. The changes might be related to the way of how people analyze information before accepting it. Social media allows people to compare information available in different resources and discuss it with others until they decide how authorized and reliable is it.
This study is important because it will focus on the use of social media and its impact on the religious information seeking. Also, it will clarify the new ways of dissemination and communications of religious information.
The author works in a university as an associated professor. The university is specialized in Islamic studies, so he has a clear idea of the method of leaning Islam in Saudi Arabia. He teaches in College of Computer and Information Science, which means that he has knowledge in the area of religion and technology. Also, the author is a researcher and has done many studies in related subjects.
Despite the influence of traditional cultural values and the composite character of information technologies, the global embrace of internet technologies in the contemporary context has reconfigured the fabric of every society, its culture and spirituality. But scholarly investigation into the intentional use of these technologies for religious purposes has regrettably been modest and disproportionate. This study is an attempt to respond to the thesis that adaptation to ICT use in religion has significant ministerial advantages but limited by gender, income, and educational gaps. Building upon qualitative methodology, the paper examines how technology is appropriated to support religious activities and practices.
Despite the influence of traditional cultural values and the composite character of information technologies, the global embrace of internet technologies in the contemporary context has reconfigured the fabric of society, its culture and spirituality as salvific and emancipatory. But scholarly investigation into the intentional use of these technologies for religious purposes has regrettably been modest and disproportionate. It has been argued that religious groups from all traditions have today begun to explore the possibilities of having a presence in virtual reality. This argument’s corollary is that, given the shift in the social context of religious activities and the endless possibilities of interactivity and connectivity of ICT in shaping development and globalization, influencing orientation of social change and improving human life conditions, adaptation to these new tools in religious marketplace for ministry and spiritual activities in the 21st century is no longer luxury but revolutionary for religious growth and dissemination. This study is however an attempt to respond to these theses. Drawing upon extensive contemporary research, and supported with qualitative methodology, the paper examines how technology is appropriated to support religious activities and practices. The methodology will include ethnographic interview, focused group discussion and participant observation. This exploratory study tries to argue on the theoretical mindset that the space in which religious life happens can be expanded technologically for the good of mankind.
The use of Internet technologies has today taken “congregational life” beyond the mundane and the physical limits of the weekend assembly. With an insight provided into the understanding of the independent layers of ICT utilization and application for religious activities, a criterion on what should constitute appropriate approach toward ICT usage is thus supplied. The findings of this study however have a significant implication for cumulative research on the subject of techno-spiritual communication.
The use of media in engendering religious consciousness in Kashmir can be illustrated by the role that pamphlets, cassettes, electronic media and internet played over the last two decades. The paper tries to look at the problem with the background of the discourses on Media and Religion by using works of James W. Carey, Anthony Giddens, Victor Turner, Stewart Hoover and Stig Hjarvard.
To popularize the reformist cause, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah set up the first press in Kashmir, the Muslim Printing Press, launching two weeklies, al-Islam and Rahnuma, to broadcast the views of the Deobandis and to combat what were seen as the un-Islamic practices of the Kashmiri Muslims. He also translated and published the first Kashmiri translation of and commentary on the Quran, so that ordinary Kashmiris could understand the Quran themselves, rather than having to depend on the custodians of shrines for their religious instruction. While scholars like Barbara Metcalf and Francis Robinson have recognized the importance of print in the Islamic academies of 19th century colonial India, no scholarship have been undertaken to study the role of print in relation to Islam in Kashmir. Francis Robinson attributes the rise of Islamic Protestantism, where scripturalist revivalism rejected many aspects of traditional Islamic practice with the adoption of print by Muslims in South Asia (Metlcalf, Robinson, 2000).
In the past two decades as the political Islam has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the world, Indian administered Kashmir has not been immune to such experience. Mohammed Ishaq Khan, noted Kashmiri historian, on Islam in Kashmir, points out to the vast body of writings of 1990’s in the Urdu press of Srinagar on the several themes connected to political Islam. All these themes bring media, religion and real politic in concert (Khan, 1994). The link between Protestantism in Islam goes hand in hand with deployment of several media’s. In case of Kashmir, there is a linear pattern in using media for shaping religion from starting of first printing press to the modern times.
Over the last twenty years, we are experiencing the exposure of first generation of Kashmiris to mass media in the form of TV, internet, publishing, printed tracts. This is the first generation grown up with mass marketing and demographic targeting of modern advertising. Significant proportion of attention has been paid to the question of religion by using varieties of mediums.
With few exceptions, scholars of media have more than often treated religion and media as separate spheres or entities. Hent de Vries, in the essays in Religion and Media (de Vries and Weber 2001) extrapolates from Jacques Derrida’s contribution to the specified volume which argues that communication media and religion are both mediations, both bridging the interior and exterior, though in different ways (de, Vries and Weber, 2001). But this has not been the case with the studies dealing with Muslims and media in South Asia, where there has been too much of segmentation in dealing with this question. The proposed study will try to contemplate the coming together of religion and the media in the spaces of social and cultural practice.
Data Weaving: Bringing together the history of Trinity Episcopal Church and New England through technology06/05/2014
Since 1752 Trinity Episcopal Church on the New Haven Green has embraced parishioners from all walks of life, and participated in the region’s long history. The contents of the church’s archives reflect the community’s cultural memory. Today, parishioners with connections to the Yale University Library system and New Haven’s non-profit sector are implementing new technologies and technical workflows. We will describe how we are preserving our archival resources, giving parishioners and scholars access to our parish story, and providing church staff and The Vestry with information necessary for running the church today.
The first challenge for the archives team was to show the parish community and finance committee the extent of the archives’ contents and the relationship of this material to parish and New Haven history. Lifelong parish members, acquainted with the archives’ contents, began an informal dialogue during church events. When the church office relocated, the archives was given its own room, a donation that covered initial expenses, and a line in the History Ministry budget.
The archives team includes parishioners who are library professionals, and others who have experience relevant to the task. Together, we have developed a well-defined tagging system, and an Excel spreadsheet where we have been entering data/records. The record structure includes an element set based on Dublin Core. Some fields use controlled vocabulary terms, but we also have a notes field with free text.
We are currently acquiring a flatbed scanner, and will be implementing OMEKA, an open source web publishing software designed for small libraries and archives, December 2013. We plan to migrate our data, and workflow to the digital environment as soon as possible.
We have created documentation for the current workflow. We have consulted with archivists and copyright experts at other institutions, and will create new documentation for our digital workflow, as well as guidelines and policies for archives users. Our goal for that documentation is May 2014 at the latest.
We want to expand our work through the help of current information technology. Through technology, we are electronically weaving ourselves with other local cultural heritage institutions, including The New Haven Museum, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Divinity School Archives, and the Connecticut State Library—sharing both parish and community stories as we work. Trinity on the Green is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in the United States. Our church's story reflects both the religious history of New Haven and our country. The current congregation is an active group of parishoners who are keenly aware of our place in this history, and we appreciate the need to ensure that our archives is well-organized and available responsibly to our membership and also the wider community.
The increased organization and availability of archival material is bringing about positive results. The archives has already assisted a few parishoners in geneology research. These research projects have also expanded the congregation’s knowledge of parish history through three Sunday afternoon discussions during the fall of 2013. The church’s Vestry has also asked the archives team to compile a history of monetary giving, using archival materials, in an effort to evaluate the presence and status of the church’s current endowment.
Our paper will provide a casestudy that examines the efforts of one parish to incorporate new technologies into their archival practices, preserving Trinity’s cultural memory, along with the local and national communities it has historically served.
As mid-size churches shift from software to web-based management tools, the options and features of such
packages are diverse and expensive. This presentation examines the range of offerings and offers a
decision-making matrix for choosing effective, cost-efficient solutions.
How does a local congregation or parish choose web-based management tools for tracking
involvement, contribution, communication and security issues relevant to congregations between
250—1200. This is a case study, based on the experience of a congregation in mid-Michigan, which
is navigating a confusing range of packages with different feature sets and pricing models. Theories
of structural inertia are considered as well as Weick’s notions of sense making in loosely coupled
Congregations will increasingly be attracted to web-based management systems that enable higher levels of
collaboration and access. Congregational leaders will seek guidance in how to make wise choices. The
presentation touches on several themes from the call for papers:
• Information management, database management and/or content management in church
• Privacy and security issues in information management for religious organizations;
• Uses of information by congregation members
• The application of information science/management principles for efficient, timely, and
• Uses of information technology for management of information in religious organizations
The author, a college professor who teaches new media courses in web content and management, is also
an associate pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville. He is working with the technology task force
at the church to explore and choose web-based software to keep up with the demands of a rapidly growing
When it comes to the various public media reporting on churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, religious schools, and missionary organizations, scandalmongering appears to be the order of the day. But are secular media organizations adequately equipped to evaluate the underlying beliefs and practices of religious organizations?
The Tanakh’s Book of Proverbs states that “evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully” (Proverbs 28:5). Would not the secular media fall into the category of “evildoers,” seeing that a majority of media personnel admit to an atheistic or agnostic philosophy of life? When the apostle Paul states that “the spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15), is this statement nothing more than a form of spiritual arrogance and a failure to be held accountable for one’s actions? Or do Christians actually operate with an epistemology that is inaccessible to non-Christians? When the Qur’an notes that “it is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration…” (Sura 42:51), implying that the spiritually devout have access to “inspired information” that the unbeliever does not have, is such information essentially incontestable by secularists?
This essay will examine the ways that secular media acquire, interpret, and disseminate information regarding religious movements and institutions and will seek to evaluate the media’s fundamental biases in relation to various religions’ claims that their teachings and practices are divinely inspired and essentially incomprehensible to “unbelievers.”