Participants in the May 20 conference on social media and evangelism at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity will get a sneak peek at a new church-wide curriculum currently under development by a task force appointed by General Convention.
The conference, which begins at 9:30 a. m., will be led by Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely of Rhode Island, a member of the Task Force for Leveraging Social Media for Evangelism and former rector of Trinity, Bethlehem.
Knisely has worked on the social media curriculum and an accompanying theology paper with Bishop Andy Doyle of the Diocese of Texas, the Revs. Kyle Oliver and Steve Pankey and the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism and reconciliation. He says he is eager to “take it for a test drive.”
“We have worked so hard for so long to convince people that evangelism is important that at this wonderful moment, when our church is focused on evangelism, we actually don’t have a lot of details about how to do it,” says Knisely, who wrote the resolution creating the task force with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
The conference, which is coordinated by the diocese’s Evangelism Commission, will include two plenary presentations by Knisely, lunch and a breakout session.
“When we were talking about putting on the Evangelism Conference, Bishop Knisely’s name came up because several members of the commission were familiar with his work,” says the Rev. Megan Dembi, priest-in-charge at St. Thomas Church in Morgantown, and a member of the commission. “We were really excited at the possibility of having him speak, especially because he is such an expert when it comes, not only to evangelism, but technology, and how we might better use technology to evangelize in our areas.”
Knisely says he plans to “explore some practical suggestions about how to best use social media and online tools to share your faith,” but also to discuss ways to use social media “to listen to your neighbors talk about the kinds of stories that they are longing to hear.”
The bishop will assume that participants have “some awareness of social media,” he says, and will explain “how social media works and what problems it was invented to solve.”
For those who still doubt the importance of social media, Knisely will have a ready response. “I am going to point to the Wesley brothers,” he says, referring to the founders of Methodism. “When they were prevented from preaching in communities, they preached at the crossroads. Social media are the modern crossroads.”
Dembi says the commission believes that the conference can catalyze new evangelistic activity across the diocese. “What we’re hoping comes from the day is that people walk away with some tools that they can use personally in their churches to help them evangelize in their area,” she says. “So maybe people that may have been a little bit clueless as to what to do before, they’d come away with an idea of “this is what I can do in my own church to help evangelize better and use social media more effectively.”
The event is free, but online registration is required. Register online.