08 Jul GS 2019 art 146
GS 2019 Article 146 – CWeb (Committee for the Official Website)
- 1.1 Report of the Committee for the Official Website (CWeb) (220.127.116.11)
- 1.2 Letters from the following churches: Burlington-Ebenezer (18.104.22.168), Barrhead (22.214.171.124), Toronto-Bethel (126.96.36.199), Grassie-Covenant (188.8.131.52), Burlington Waterdown-Rehoboth (184.108.40.206), Taber (220.127.116.11), London-Pilgrim (18.104.22.168), Orangeville (22.214.171.124)
- 2.1 GS 2016 (Art. 49) gave the CWeb the following mandate:
- [4.3.1] To maintain the existing website and associated technical functions;
- [4.3.2] To revise the content of the website whenever necessary;
- [4.3.3] To continue the project of digitalizing Reports brought to past synods and to ensure that all reports for GS 2019 are available on the website before the next general synod;
- [4.3.4] To investigate the effectiveness of the website and to implement changes as considered necessary and desirable, focusing on the following matters: design and layout of the website, greater usability for smart phones and similar devices, menu structures, searching capabilities and greater use of graphics. The CWeb should also investigate whether or not it is possible to get permission for publishing links to the Psalms and Hymns of the Book of Praise on the website;
- [4.3.5] To use paid, professional services, if necessary, to complete 4.3.3 and 4.3.4 in a timely fashion;
- [4.3.6] To serve GS 2019 with a report to be sent to the churches at least six months before the beginning of Synod, including a financial statement and a proposed budget.
- 2.2 The committee members have kept in touch with each other through Slack, an online chat and collaboration system, and the committee also had seven online meetings using Skype to discuss and provide updates of projects and progress.
- 2.3 Brs. Jeremy Koopmans, Jonathan Reinink, and Darryl Shpak looked after the technical side of the website and email functions, while Rev. T. Roukema helped maintain the website content, served as the main point of contact for emails received by the committee, and also served as convener for Skype meetings.
- 2.4 The terms of brs. Jonathan Reinink and Darryl Shpak are completed. Br. Reinink has indicated that he is willing to remain on the committee for a second term. The CWeb recommends sr. Christie Hoeksema, member of Attercliffe, to be appointed to the committee.
- 2.5 A significant part of the committee’s work involved regular maintenance of the existing website and associated technical functions, as well as the revision of website content whenever necessary.
- 2.6 The CWeb reports that the canrc.org website receives significant traffic.
- 2.7 The CWeb continued to provide canrc.org email services to the ministers, with an assessment of the current service (see Observation 2.13).
- 2.8 The Guelph-Emmanuel CanRC and Guelph-Living Word CanRC are the last two churches that maintain their website on the canrc.org web servers.
- 2.9 Through the work of Rev. J. Chase, the CWeb completed the task of continued digitizing (scanning and OCRing) all past Synodical reports in searchable format, which are available on the federation website.
- 2.10 The CWeb was mandated to significantly improve the federation website, which, based on the committee’s analysis, resulted in a complete rebuild of the website.
- 2.11 While the new website has many new features and capabilities, the newer platform does not provide web hosting services for individual church websites, email addresses for ministers and others, and a ministerial email list.
- 2.12 The CWeb communicated with the SCBP regarding hosting content of the Book of Praise. The SCBP advised the CWeb to include the prose section only on the website and indicated that they work further with the copyright holders of the Psalms and Hymns.
- 2.13 The committee has historically offered email services to the churches, although the current implementation has not been satisfactory to most ministers. Over the years, the CWeb has noticed a decline in the usage of canrc.org email, and currently, very few ministers use canrc.org email accounts in favour of other email options such as Gmail or Hotmail as their ministerial email. Since the current implementation of email services is “old and simple”, the CWeb recommends “to pursue and, as soon as is feasibly possible, purchase an email service for the canrc.org emails that will reliably provide quality email service and usability.”
- 2.14 The CWeb offers three possible solutions, maintain the current email service, discontinue the service and encourage ministers to use their own personal email accounts, or move the email service to a more reliable and robust provider with a substantial increase in cost.
- 2.15 The committee recommends that, “if GS 2019 determines that the canrc.org email is beneficial and of importance to the churches”, to purchase G Suite Basic email service for the canrc.org email at a cost of $10,300 CAD per year.
- 2.16 With the transition to a new hosting platform for the federation website, webhosting for individual churches will be phased out. With Synod’s approval, the two Guelph churches will be informed that the hosting of their websites will expire in the Fall 2020.
- 2.17 GS 2016 gave the CWeb a budget of $10,000, of which $5,800 was designated to implementing change to the federation website, and $3,250 to the project of digitizing past synodical reports. Since the scope of the committee’s mandate to update the website exceeded the amount budgeted, the church appointed to administer the General Fund, Carman-East, granted an increased of $3,000. These are one-time cost, which do not need to be repeated.
- 2.18 Ongoing expenses CWeb are for website hosting, which currently includes email services, and domain name registration. From 2019-2022, the projected cost is $1,250 CAD per year.
- 2.19 Burlington-Ebenezer comments, should Synod accept the committee’s recommendation to implement G Suite, “this is a significant expense that is already under budgeted.” It suggests that Synod instruct the CWeb to propose a migration plan so that users of canrc.org will be inclined (or compelled) to use it, since most people do not like changing email services, even if it is change for the better.
- 2.20 Barrhead supports CWeb’s recommendation to implement G Suite since the email service has been “valuable for communicating and sharing information in a timely and efficient manner with colleagues and for soliciting/providing advice on pastoral matters.” Further, “opting for a different provider makes good sense, even fiscally, if it means that all CanRC ministers and missionaries can take part without undue hassle.”
- 2.21 Toronto-Bethel favours the approach “to discontinue and phase out email hosting as most ministers use their own email which works well.”
- 2.22 Grassie-Covenant is “not convinced that the benefit of providing a professional email service is worth $25K [for three years] to the churches.” And, “the perceived advantage of an unchanging “canrc.org“ email extension only works within the confines of the Can. Ref. Churches. Any movement outside of Canada or to other federations … would still require a change of address.” Grassie-Covenant disagrees with the proposed change of email services, and suggests that “email service be discontinued and phased out.” The church requests that “CWeb be asked to advise ministers on alternative solutions for confidential group conversations.”
- 2.23 Burlington-Rehoboth suggests that “the amount set in the budget for paid email service is much too high” and suggests an alternate solution.
- 2.24 Taber feels that “regardless of how much money is invested in the email program, ministers will still be more comfortable using other encrypted email options that are available.” “It is not prudent to create a technologically advanced email system if it will not be adopted by a large percentage of users.”
- 2.25 London-Pilgrim comments concerning a “canrc.org” email service that allows for an email address that does not change and is professional, “we do not consider these benefits to be worth the expense for the G Suite Basic email service.” Since the church sees the ministerial email list as a valuable means of communication for ministers, they ask that the committee be tasked to look into “an alternate mailing list that would be economical for the churches.”
- 2.26 Orangeville indicates that it does not support CWeb’s recommendation to implement a robust and reliable email service because the services offered will not be “of practical benefit” to their minister, the canrc.org email address used by the clerk is auto-forwarded to a Gmail account, that “the committee has failed to demonstrate any additional benefit for G Suite Basic, other than a perceived ‘level of professionalism’”, and that “the cost of continuing to provide [an] ongoing email service, for a service that is not likely to be fully utilized … is quite significant.”
- 3.1 The CWeb has fulfilled its mandate, including:
- 3.1.1 Digitizing all past Synodical reports in searchable format and making them available on the federation website;
- 3.1.2 Implementing changes on the federation website “considered necessary and desirable”, resulting in a website that is fresh and modern;
- 3.2 While Barrhead supports the CWeb recommendation (Observation 2.15), Toronto-Bethel, Grassie-Covenant, Burlington-Rehoboth, Taber, London-Pilgrim, and Orangeville do not support the recommendation. Burlington-Ebenezer suggests a plan so that ministers will be inclined or compelled to use the new email service.
- 3.3 Based on the letters from the churches, GS 2019 does not support the recommendation to implement G Suite Basic.
- 3.4 Burlington-Rehoboth suggests an alternative solution which the committee has not investigated and would need time to evaluate.
- 3.5 Since the current email service is fading into extinction and moving the email service to a more reliable and robust provider at a significant additional cost is not acceptable, the remaining option is to discontinue the service and encourage ministers to use their own personal email accounts (compare with Observation 2.14).
- 3.6 Even if email hosting is discontinued, “canrc.org” email addresses can still be used as public-facing addresses by ministers and other church-related officers. These “canrc.org” email addresses can be set up to forward email to personal email accounts for incoming email. It should be noted, however, that the personal email address would be used as the origin for outgoing email.
- 3.7 The ministers appreciate the email list service which allows them to communicate with each other confidentially, to share information and concerns, and ask for advice from colleagues.
That Synod decide that the CWeb has fulfilled its mandate, and:
- 4.1 To thank br. Darryl Shpak for his work on the committee;
- 4.2 To appoint two new members to the committee with six-year terms;
- 4.3 To thank the Rev. J. Chase for his work of digitizing all past Synodical reports;
- 4.4 To thank those involved in the development and implementation of the new federation website;
- 4.5 To request the SCBP to seek an arrangement with copyright holders which would allow the entire Book of Praise to be hosted on the official website;
- 4.6 To confirm that website hosting for the churches is no longer part of the CWeb’s mandate;
- 4.7 To approve a budget of $6,000 for the period 2019-2021 for ongoing operations;
- 4.8 To mandate the CWEB:
- 4.8.1 To maintain the existing website and associated technical functions;
- 4.8.2 To revise the content of the website whenever necessary, including:
- 126.96.36.199 Posting news items and documents upon submission by ministers and clerks of church councils, and by officers of ecclesiastical assemblies who are authorized to post press releases or news items related to classes, regional or general synods.
- 188.8.131.52 Annually auditing the site’s information against the yearbook, and
- 184.108.40.206 Maintaining pages for synodical committees with their current mandates and contact information;
- 4.8.3 To make synod reports available on the web before the next synod;
- 4.8.4 To discontinue and phase out email hosting;
- 4.8.5 To provide email forwarding from “canrc.org” to personal email accounts for ministers, clerks, and others when requested by clerks of church Councils;
- 4.8.6 To advise ministers on alternative email list services for confidential group discussions, and if an email list service is implemented for the ministers, to function as the administrator of the list;
- 4.8.7 To appoint one of its members to validate and submit to the treasurer of the General Fund all expenses being submitted for committee work;
- 4.8.8 To submit a report on its activities to the churches 6 months prior to the convening of next general synod.