Well, the dust is settling after last week’s churchwide assembly. Like most of you, I was not in Minneapolis—I was keeping track of assembly actions from afar.
It was the first assembly I haven’t attended in many years. Before I came to be the editor of Lutheran Woman Today, I worked in ELCA communication services. For churchwide assemblies, I edited and proofread news releases. One thing that struck me last week was how much has changed since those days—especially the communication technology.
At the assembly in 2001, we were still printing out news releases on paper and stacking them on a table in the newsroom for visiting reporters. We also produced a recorded summary of the day’s stories that was available on a telephone call-in line. Doesn’t that seem hopelessly quaint?
This year if you wanted to keep up with what was happening at the assembly, you could go to ELCA.org and watch the plenary sessions in real time through streaming video, complete with captioning. You could visit the many photo galleries to look for people you might know. You could view videos of the news conferences and plenary sessions at your convenience, long after they took place.
There were plenty of bloggers writing about this assembly, including some on ELCA.org. Or you could follow the assembly (as I did) on Facebook and Twitter. From a multitude of cell phones, text messages about assembly actions were sent to Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and friends back home–long before the communication staff could put out a news release or post a Web update.
The new communication vehicles are part of the story of the assembly. Clergy, congregation members, news media, global partners, and other interested parties did not have to wait for official ELCA communications or for the announcements at church on Sunday—they could find out what was going on and react to it immediately.
I think this is mostly a good thing, although it has some drawbacks. With information coming at us so quickly and from so many sources, how do we recognize what is accurate? How do we know that someone’s perspective is balanced and fair–and not manipulative? How do we keep from being overwhelmed? When I feel bombarded by information, the temptation is to shut down and ignore it—it’s just too much to sort through. (Take a look at the multimedia page from the assembly to get an idea of what is available.)
So, how did you follow the assembly news last week? How did you keep in touch?
Kate Sprutta Elliott is editor of Lutheran Woman Today magazine.