I’ve had many conversations with ministers, members of congregations, lay leaders, staff, and others about our upcoming move to Boston’s Innovation District. Some say it’s just a building. Why should we care? Some say the current buildings are our heritage, our roots. How could we possibly move?
The primary goal of your UUA staff is to serve you and our faith. A new facility opens a new world of possibilities we could only imagine before. Incorporating modern technology that has eluded us for years is now a priority and doable. For our day-to-day work, this is a must. For partnering with you for our future, there is simply no other alternative.
In this monthly update, Mark Steinwinter, the UUA’s director of information technology services, shares his thoughts on deepening our connections through improved technology.
Rev. Peter Morales
Technology at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a means to three primary ends:
- Make it easy and affordable for people to connect with each other.
- Make resources available to congregations and constituents when and where they are needed.
- Amplify staff capacity to better serve our congregations and our movement.
The move to 24 Farnsworth Street has inspired a fresh look at the technology used by our staff, gives us an opportunity to improve how we serve congregations and Unitarian Universalists everywhere.
Consider the phone system. Over 15 years old, it doesn’t fulfill the needs for mobility and flexibility that are hallmarks of a modern workplace. When a lay leader wants to call me with a technology question, they should be able to reach me whether I’m at my desk, elsewhere in the building, or at General Assembly. And if they have the right technology, we can have a video chat that will deepen our connection.
When visitors come to our new hub, they’ll want to access the Internet with their mobile devices using wifi. Today, they have to deal with spotty and unreliable coverage in our three buildings. That often interferes with their ability to connect and interrupts our IT support personnel. At 24 Farnsworth St., we’ll invest in an entirely new wireless network that will offer secure, red hot service everywhere, so visitors can expect to work online, usually with no involvement from the IT folks.
Today, the UUA webcasts weekly worship and “All Staff” meetings from the chapel, intended primarily for off-site staff. Our IT staff spends hours every month running the cobbled-together technology that makes the webcasts possible. The lighting and sound are often sketchy, but it’s better than nothing and we get by. But imagine a rich program of worship and presentations in our chapel, like an exciting workshop at GA or a TED talk. And imagine a seeker finding their way to us online and watching the live stream and tweeting to their friends what the “UUs are up to.”
These are a few of virtually unlimited possibilities that modern, affordable off-the-shelf technology makes available today. I pledge to oversee the upgrade of our telephone, audio/visual, wireless, and other technology systems with an eye toward bringing us into deeper engagement with one another and the world at large.
Director of Information Technology Services