Three faculty members in our Doctor of Ministry program have all contributed pieces to a new e-book that was put together in the last month to reflect the new online reality of religious interactions due to the COVID-19 Crisis.
Scott Thumma, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Donna Schaper, Faculty Associate in Religious Leadership, and Michael Piazza, Faculty Associate in Congregational Renewal, are all represented among the 30 essays included.
Congrats to all three! Details are shared in the following Press Release.
Network for New Media, Religion & Digital Culture Studies publishes first eBook, The Distanced Church
Digital Religion Publications, an imprint of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies, announces the publication of its first eBook. “The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online” is an experiment in trying to create an accessible international dialogue between church leaders, theologians, and media scholars. The book is a collection of 30 essays in which pastors, professors, priests, and entrepreneurs explore the challenges and opportunities created for churches during the current global COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past month, most churches around the world have been forced to close their doors due to the need for social distancing and local lockdowns in order to fight off the spread of the virus. The result has been an unplanned and swift transition towards technologically-driven forms of gathering. Many church leaders have felt out of their comfort zone while experimenting with doing church online. At the same time, scholars and theologians have been studying new trends in how churches are performing worship online. These experts have also found themselves in the spotlight recently, being asked to offer practical and theological advice to religious leaders on churches and technology during this time of transition.
“The Distanced Church” brings together these two groups in a format where they can offer lessons learned, answer questions that have been raised, and present insights gleaned from researching and doing religion online. Contributors come from ten different countries—within North America, Europe, and the Antipodes—and represent 12 different Christian denominations including Mainline, Catholic, and Nondenominational churches.
The project is spearheaded by Dr. Heidi A Campbell, professor of communication at Texas A&M University and director of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies. She has studied religious groups’ use of technology for two and a half decades. Her goal was to collect key stories and research expertise reflecting on the response of churches to the pandemic, and to publish them in a quick and timely manner. The goal is to get this material out to those who will most benefit from a project of this nature—religious communities wrestling with the sudden move from offline to online ministry through digitally-mediated contexts.
Written, edited, and published within three weeks over March and April 2020, this edited collection is offered as a free eBook available in PDF, ePub, and a mobile-friendly version. The PDF version of “The Distanced Church” is available as of April 20, 2020 online. The ePub version will be released online on April 27, 2020. All versions can be downloaded freely via the OAKTrust Digital Repository at Texas A&M University: https://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/187891 AND https://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/187892