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Student Story: Richard Propes (MDiv Connections)

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Richard Propes
(MDiv Connections)

RichardIs it possible to find God on Facebook? "Tweet" spiritual truths? Turn MySpace into a sacred space?

As part of my Ministry Formation experience here at Bethany, it's my mission this academic year to learn how the Internet can be used to build, support, grow, and empower a community of believers. I'm serving on a first of its kind church plant leadership team for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana planting what is known as DisciplesNet Church, an emerging church of the Indiana Disciples of Christ.

Approached by DisciplesNet's founding pastor, Deb Phelps, because of my history of advocacy work and experience in both web-based activism and ministry, I am tasked with serving as DisciplesNet's Minister of Community Life and Care, providing prayer leadership and pastoral care, developing web-based support programs, and serving as the church's liaison with the community at large.

DisciplesNet is committed to mending, tending, and extending the "net" of Jesus Christ by using the Internet, social networking and other forms of technology to glorify God and reach individuals who are often underserved by the church--if they are even served at all-such as individuals with physical, mental and developmental disabilities, shut-ins, the elderly, individuals who've been wounded by organized religion, those who simply don't feel comfortable in churches and many others.

In addition to regular live webcast worship services, DisciplesNet will be offering 24/7 pastoral care, devotions, prayer, web-based small groups for fellowship and spiritual growth, an arts community and much more.

In this powerful ministry experience, I have quickly learned that creating a sacred space on the World Wide Web comes with its own unique set of challenges and obstacles including the challenge of building authentic community, the challenge of not emphasizing technology over a relationship with God and host of others.

John Smith
(MDiv Connections)

classMy wife Barbara and I first visited Bethany in June 2009. After spending two days meeting with faculty and staff I returned home even more uncertain. Did I really want to devote the time this program required? Was I willing to learn computer skills that didn't even exist when I finished college in 1972? Was I willing to make the eight-hour drive that would occasionally be necessary? Was this really what God was calling me to do at this time in my life? From the very beginning, I came as I am, but went not as I came. Little did I know how this Bethany tag line would time and time again ring true for my educational experience.