NEW YORK (GBGM) - UMCommunities, a retooled electronic forum for connecting United Methodists around shared interests in Christian faith and mission, is now live and available. It is at umcommunities.org and is sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
"We see UMCommunities as a way to promote networks around issues and concerns in the faith journey," said the Rev. Christopher Heckert, associate general secretary of the international mission agency.
The site was formerly called 7Villages, set up in 2007. Some 258 groups and 520 individual participants in 7Villages have been transferred into the new format, which became live on May 5. It offers the possibilities for personal blogs and discussion groups.
The purpose, Rev. Heckert added, pointing to an online statement of purposes, is to provide a "safe place" for persons not only to share their journeys but also "to deepen their faith and commitment to God's mission, and connect with like-minded people in order to respond to the needs of the world."
Users, who establish free memberships through registration, need not be United Methodists but most likely will be. The site contains member-established feeds and groups from United Methodist general agencies, annual conferences, congregations, regions, organizations, and theological emphases. Sections of the site include feeds, groups, people, and posts.
UMCommunities has adopted three basic rules of Christian conduct expressed in 18th century England by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists. Those are, in paraphrase: "Do as much good as you can, do as little harm as you can, and stay in love with God."
7Villages was not primarily Methodist in original content, but most people who joined were United Methodists. The name-change recognizes the demographics of use and the fact that the General Board of Global Ministries will now take an active role in the oversight. More United Methodist content has been added. Missionaries, mission board staff, and others interested in mission are being encouraged to open discussion groups or write personal blogs.
To set up a free UMCommunites account, go to umcommunities.org. Then, while logged in, go to umcommunities.org/all_groups.asp and join some of the groups, such as Global Ministries.