A lot of Methobloggers got e-mailed invitations a couple of weeks ago to attend an online chat about the UMC's new website, billed as the first "faith-based social networking site".
This is exactly the sort of institutional buy-in that the Methoblogosphere has been seeking for two years now. But, unfortunately, I had a meeting at that hour that I could not get out of.
But I respect Janice Laurente and United Methodist Communications for seeing the value of the Methoblogosphere and thank her for the invitation.
The social networking end of the website is very impressive. It isn't just a neglected Conference website message board. It's a flexible software setup called 7Villages. One can create different online communities within this larger UMC context. There are many present for different churches, conferences, and interest groups.
It's a very fluid program that takes advantage of the Army of Davids available through communications technology.
What will this mean for the UMC? There are 433 registered members of this Methodist society so far, and it's growing rapidly, day by day.
At the MethoBlogCon dinner, each of us introduced ourselves and spoke about what the Methoblogosphere means. I said something like this: "Our denomination is battling schismatic forces, tearing us away from united community. The Methoblogosphere is a counterweight to these tendencies, bringing people together who strongly disagree with each other. We find that we have some differences, but so much in common. Our friendships show vividly what we have in common. So as much as I may find myself in routine disagreement with my brother Jonathon here, I can't imagine ever schisming away from him. That is what the Methoblogosphere does: it helps keep us united for mission."
And that is what the new UMC website can do on a much larger scale.
Here is Beth Quick's more comprehensive review, as well as thoughts from Josh Tinley.