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Good Steward Awards 2013: Technology

SPECIAL NEEDS

grace-church_interiorGrace Church (Eden Prairie, MN)

Grace Church models a standard for accessibility in its outreach to individuals with special needs. For weekly worship, Tech Director Troy Hillstrom uses a Williams Sound assistive listening system consisting of a base station transmitter and personal receivers for listeners. He says it’s a necessity — not only for those with hearing loss, but also for language access/translation in the 4,200-seat worship center.

“In a large space, clarity is a huge issue,” Hillstrom explains. “We make a conscious effort to provide the message to all listeners.”

For language translation in the youth ministry, he uses portable body pack transmitters and headset and lapel mics. In the Hispanic youth ministry, personal receivers are used. Even overseas missionaries benefit from assistive listening technology, using it for language translation.

“[Hillstrom] mentioned that when they hand out the receivers in the worship center, people are usually shocked to have something available to help them. They’re happy and they come back,” adds Janet Beckman, vice president of marketing for Williams Sound. “One gentleman keeps his receiver because he uses it every week. When [Hillstrom] glances over to see him using it, he’s smiling and he’s engaged. That’s the payoff.”

Read more about Grace Church here.

 

GIVING SOLUTIONS

Shore_Fellowship_2Shore Fellowship (Egg Harbor Twp, NJ)

In the past five years, Shore Fellowship has been forced to close six times due to weather —  potentially devastating, financially.

“We learned that the only way to develop consistent giving, and remain financially stable during snow- or storm-related closings, was to ask the church to embrace online giving,” explains Executive Administrator T.K. Dennis. After Hurricane Sandy struck, for example, the church raised $100,000 for community recovery, mostly electronically.

Throughout the year, several strategies incite members to embrace electronic giving — and giving in general. “We send out quarterly ‘celebratory reports’ that offer a look at what God is doing in the lives of his people,” he explains. “A big part of this is always describing the ways people can give. The option we push most is giving online through Elexio Pulse.”

Additionally, weekend worship services end with a brief teaching on the importance of giving. “At times, we even walk the church through our giving process from the stage.” It appears to be working: Dennis says he always sees “a ton of faces planted in their smart phones” on Sundays — and not because they’re avoiding the collection baskets.

“If they’re anything like me, they don’t carry any cash anyway,” he points out. “So, without a credit card giving option, they’re not only unable to give, but they’re unable to participate in an important part of worship.”

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