Mennonite Church USA Convention 2009 will take place in Columbus, Ohio, June 30 to July 5, but people who don’t make the trip physically can still experience convention on the Internet like never before.
The Executive Leadership communications team will provide Web and social media coverage of the churchwide convention for the first time this year. In addition to the official convention web site there will be a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well as a Blip.tv channel.
The overall strategy for using social media to keep all parts of Mennonite Church USA connected to the convention was shaped by communications intern Tim Blaum of Goshen, Ind., and Web content manager for Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership Chris Rahe.
“We see this as an opportunity to experiment and seek new ways of allowing convention participants to help us tell the story of what happens at conventions,” Rahe said. “We know that Mennonites are increasingly taking cues from our society, and we want to make sure we’re communicating in ways that allow us to interact and be relevant in the 21st Century.”
New videos will be uploaded to YouTube and Blip.tv daily during Convention 2009. Videos will include exclusive interviews with some of the speakers and presenters, other scenes from the convention and daily video updates.
To access the Convention 2009 videos, visit the YouTube site here.
Twitter users inside and outside of Columbus will be able to interact in real time by following the MC USA Twitter link where convention goers will be able to post about their experiences 140 characters at a time. A hashtag of #MC_USA09 has been suggested for all convention-related posts. Twitter accounts are not necessary to see the posts.
Others may be more comfortable with Facebook. Mennonite Church USA has had a Facebook page as well as a convention Facebook group since last year, and the pages will be regularly updated throughout convention. People can join the convention group by going to www.facebook.com and searching for “Mennonite Church USA Convention.”
Fans can upload photos and videos, post on the wall and join in convention discussions on the discussion board.
Rahe and Blaum are looking forward to reaching out in new ways.
“Social media are a great tool for the church to extend the Columbus experience to others outside the city,” Blaum said. “It also helps integrate with other communities in new ways by interacting with individuals who notice our activity in Columbus via our presence on the Web.”