Since May 25, 2010, Orangethorpe United Methodist Church has had a new web site. Nowadays it's the "in thing" to blog, providing to the whole world one's daily observations about all sorts of trivial events. Although this page may look like a blog, it's not.
I'm jotting down some comments here about how OUMC's new site came to be "official" and about my journey down a "long and winding road" toward building the site and making it more useful to the people of our church. I may also include reminders to myself about things I'm working on. Like a blog, it will read in reverse chronological order, so you can see more quickly the latest happenings.
The usual disclaimer — what you see here are my own personal opinions, which don't necessarily reflect the official policy of the United Methodist Church, or any of its subdivisions. :~)
April 10, 2016. I had a few minutes to kill before going to church, so I put the time to good use by copying some 2007-2008 photos from our Latino Ministry's galería de fotos to the bottom of the list of entries in OUMC's photo album. This is only the beginning! There are lots more great pix from the Latino web site which which deserve to be a part of our "big picture", and which I will merge in as time permits.
June 27, 2015. After trying to create several pages for our photo album containing 20 or so beautiful pictures, I turned to Orangethorpe Learning Center's photo album for a technique we've been using there for more than ten years — putting photos into a "slide show" format where only one photo at a time needs to be displayed. Please take a look at OUMC's "new photo album" for a new version of our seder page, photos of Pastor Vernon Story's memorial service, plus a collection of several dozen photos which Tom Tran sent me after a recent combined Orangethorpe-West Anaheim youth meeting. This is very much a work in progress, and I'll continue it by adding new photo pages, and by converting some of the more unwieldy pages in OUMC's "old photo album" whenever time permits.
December 23, 2014. In case you didn't notice, OUMC's web site was down most of the day yesterday, and was down intermittently during the preceding week. There's yet another cryptic explanation from Hosting Matters' tech support person: "The issue: the domains are using the LVS nameservers, and the LVS domain was not renewed by them and doesn't appear to be something that will be renewed, so those nameservers are no longer valid. I changed both domains over to use our nameservers, which are attached to a domain we used for shared hosting and that is on autorenew so will never expire. Both domains will pop back up on their own with no further action required, as that change propagates." Once again, I must apologize, and beg the patience of all you OUMCers and other visitors to our site. Merry Christmas!
October 25, 2014. Today I renewed OUMC's domain name registration (oumc.net) at NameSecure through Dec. 6, 2019.
August 18, 2014. The web site goes down for several hours. Manny discovers it before I do and alerts me. Visitors are getting a big, ugly message:
July 1, 2014. Once again, I have to change the name of our current minister(s) wherever it appears on our web site, as pastor John arrives, and pastors Tom and Sergio depart. That's the way it is in the United Methodist Church!
June 9, 2014. The OUMC web site is down most of the day, due to the confusion involved in its web hosting account being acquired from LVS Online by Hosting Matters, Inc. We apologize for this situation. It has been corrected, but we'll monitor our service carefully and do whatever it takes to continue making this web site available to you.
March 31, 2014. OUMC is having lots of trouble with its "internet service provider" and Manny is forced to change our e-mail address to a more reliable web mail address. You can always find current e-mail addresses for the church and its pastors at our "links & contacts" page. The outages did not affect this web site, which is hosted by a different service.
March 2014. I'm removing the meeting summaries from our web site. Even though about 80% of our members responded to a survey a couple of years ago by saying they believed the information in the summaries should be readily available, there have been just enough complaints about summaries being on the web site that I don't want to be bothered with this issue any more. If you would like to find out what happened at some meeting, please contact me, and I'll see if I can find the information for you.
February 2014. I've been in the habit of flagging new items in various tables of contents like this – NEW FEB 2014 or UPDATED JAN 2014. One of our site's regular visitors complained because she thought she should be able to click on the part IN RED and be taken to the new page. I'm trying some simple changes to pages such as our photo album index which will make it possible to click on the whole line, whether or not it includes the red material, and be taken to the desired page. See how you like it!
June 9, 2013. I'm experimenting with the appearance of our pastors' and lay members' pages. I changed the formatting of these pages in pp.css from 10-point Verdana to 12-point Calibri. Will anybody notice? Please let me know what you think of this change.
April 25, 2013. We're making available a warm farewell letter we sent to Pastor Louise and Scott Fairweathre-Baxter on the occasion of their departure in 1997. There may be more such odds and ends lying around in our files which we'll add from time to time.
March 31, 2013. On this Easter Sunday morning, something happens which warms this tired old webservant's heart — Barbara Johnson reports that a young man sitting near her says he learned about our church via its web site!
December 31, 2012. After adding Pastor Tom's "quizzes" article, I was prompted by my mention on our pastors' page of "articles by our former pastors..." to think, "hey, why not feature a different old article each month!" SO, you can now see a link on that page and on our NET archive page to a 2003 article by Pastor Karl Stuckenberg. Check it out! I'll try to remember to change the links each month to feature a different article.
September 24, 2012. After helping serve dinner to a lot of people down the street tonight, I came across my 1993 newletter article describing our first Hot Meal Ministry dinner. I think it still makes good reading, so I've added it to our web site. I also came across an e-mail from 2002 which I sent Pastor Karl regarding this ministry. It was transmitted the morning after an "interesting" Church Council meeting.
Let's see if I can find some more articles from days gone by. They'll be listed on our history page whenever they become available.
September 2012. We've had several lay members bring the message at Sunday morning services recently. Some of them have been kind enough to turn their messages over to me so I can post them on this web site. Please see what's available by going to our lay members' page.
August 2012. I've started adding photographs to our news page to illustrate the events described therein. If you're trying to print the page, the photos may or may not print correctly. As we move news items to the archive page, the photos will "trickle down" to our history files. Steve Joe, and others, have been busy taking pictures and they'll turn up throughout the OUMC web site!
April 24, 2012. At the Church Council meeting this evening, I express my concern that nobody ever visits the church's web site and distribute a did you know? handout. It's based on materials I was trying to have included in the newsletter and Sunday bulletins last year.
September 23, 2011. I'm removing the following material from our calendar page. I think I must have written it during the first few months of this new web site:
September 1, 2011. OUMC has now returned to publishing a regular newsletter. Thank you, Pastor Tom Tran! How long that will last is anybody's guess. However helpful it might be to have something which is published on a regular schedule, remember that your church's web site continues to be the source of up-to-the-minute information.
August 23, 2011. The OUMC newsletter, THE NET, will resume publication some time soon. I decide to move the space its pages occupy into the main OUMC domain, instead of keeping it at 92833.org, where I put THE NET back in 2002 when Pastor Karl decided to make it available on the world wide web. So now, the newsletter entry page is at www.oumc.net/net/ instead of oumcnet.92833.org. If you had THE NET among your favorites or bookmarks, you may wish to update its address.
August 19-22, 2011. The OUMC web site is down. It seems I never received the invoice from the service which hosts our site. They suggested that my Internet Service Provider's spam blocking program may have been treating the invoices as spam. Incredible! My ISP is none other than Time Warner-Roadrunner, which Gail suspects has some kind of problem delivering her e-mails to OUMC members.
July 1, 2011. When I wake up this morning, I realize there are lots of pages where I need to change our pastor's last name from Griffith to Tran; I hope I didn't overlook anything.
May 2011. I start trying to insert a did you know? item in the weekly order of worship to remind folks that their church has a web site and to help them figure out how to use it. The item doesn't usually get printed.
February 22, 2011. There's some discussion of the web site at church council meeting this evening:
A March 2014 update on this issue — I'm pulling the meeting summaries off our web site. I haven't uploaded any in over a year. People still seem to be uncomfortable with the whole wide world seeing what we're doing.
February 13, 2011. More experimenting with CSS. I've been trying to make various types of pages – meeting summaries, news, pastors' and laymen's pages, etc. – each have its own distinctive appearance. One of the changes is color-coding the blank space on either side of the text. I'm not sure how well I like the results and may continue to change things around until I'm satisfied or until somebody else gives me better ideas.
January 11-15, 2011. I've added standard CSS formatting (via pp.css) to the pages which you can access from our Pastors' and Lay Members' Pages. I thought their literary contributions would look better with indented paragraphs. Except for that, this formatting template is similar to the one I'm using for the meeting summaries. See what you think!
December 26, 2010. Cascading Style Sheets are a feature of which every web site designer should make frequent use. Although I've used them for a long time, I must confess that I've been careless about implementing them at the OUMC site. While I did take full advantage of CSS for transcribing the history of OUMC's First Fifty Years (see 50.css), I didn't get around to using CSS for our meeting summaries until today, while recuperating from too much Christmas candy and other goodies. The summary pages now have a neat, uniform appearance, thanks to the formatting instructions contained in meetings.css. I thought these pages "looked funny" stuck to the left side of the screen, so one thing I changed was to center them horizontally. I hope that looks better to you too. I'm using meetings.css to format this page, and a few other pages to which it is well suited.
December 2010. My favorite browser is Opera. I started using it about 1997, at a time when Microsoft's Internet Explorer was barely usable and Netscape Navigator wasn't much better. This month, when I upgraded to Opera Version 11, I came across a course at dev.opera on how to design effective, standards-compliant, web sites. I'm working my way through this course, reading a new lesson every two or three days. It's must reading if you'd like to build your own web site.
November 19, 2010. There are now two new links on the menu at our home page — to a lay members' page and to a photo album page. I decide to make all the various pages of photos from different events link back to this new album page, rather than to a news page which may no longer exist. Here's hoping everybody will enjoy visting these pages and that some churchfamily members will want to add their own contributions to them.
November 12, 2010. I change the contact information at NameSecure to list me as the contact person. Thank you, Tim Oehrke, for your help and patience!
November 11, 2010. I complete work on transcribing Jeanne Lindsay's beautiful 50th anniversary history. At least, I hope the job is done. I'm still not satisfied with the way some photos look. And it's possible there are still errors in my scanner's processing all those page images. Soon we'll celebrate our 55th anniversary.
The calendar page is now easier to print. Instead of a bunch of instructions which not everybody may be able to follow (and which don't work in all browsers), I've produced a pdf file which is ready to print. I'll update it each time I change the calendar.
October 24, 2010. The "what's new?" page was becoming big and unwieldy. I've moved all the "news items" from August and before into an archive. I'll continue to move material, as it becomes outdated, from the news page to this archive.
September 2010. Work continues on many odds and ends of web site design. I make a commitment to maintain the calendar page in such a manner that you can always print it on two pieces of paper, assuming you wish to have a paper copy to distribute. Some parts of it which you see on the screen will not be printed.
August 9, 2010. I just added several more chapters to Our First Fifty Years, including the chapter on Orangethorpe Learning Center. I found, and used here, the color photo on which Jeanne based her black-and-white picture of Faye Perkins helping kids with their homework. Couldn't find the original of the William Solares photo, but this one scanned pretty well from the book.
August 6, 2010. I'm resuming work on making Jeanne Lindsay's excellent Our First Fifty Years available on this website. A big problem is that a lot of its photos of the "good old days", which look beautiful in Jeanne's book, look terrible after I scan them and try to include them in web pages. Can somebody who knows something about photo editing help me???
July 8, 2010. There's discussion recently of whether some part of this web site constitutes a newsletter. My own opinion is that it does not. At least, if you think of a newsletter as something which involves regular deadlines, plus lots of work editing, printing, copying, folding and mailing pieces of paper to lots of people, like the old NET. I don't think we should be trying to produce such a newsletter any more.
What you'll see on the web site, though, is news! Some of it is in our "latest news" page, and in other miscellaneous pages which have links on that page. There's other news in the calendar page. Both of these pages get updated whenever something happens, or is about to happen, or is changed. You should visit them almost daily if you want to stay involved in the life of your church. For those who don't have access to the world wide web, Gail occasionally prints these pages and other information from the web site. These print-outs are available on a table in the narthex and can be mailed to anybody who is unable to attend church regularly.
July 5, 2010. Over the past week, I've worked on "technical stuff" which I hope nobody noticed. One important accomplishment was to make the "temporary" address of oumc.92833.org really redirect to the "official" address of www.oumc.net; I appreciate the help and feedback which a lot of folks gave me by going to that unofficial, experimental site, and I realize you may still have it bookmarked.
June 29, 2010. I submit the following update to the OUMC Church Council:
Dear church council members,
This afternoon, I completed a very important step in our transition to the new web site:
I changed the address of our new official site to:
That means that, whenever somebody sees that address in a directory or list of churches and clicks on it, they'll go to the new site. The actual pages are in the same places where I put them "temporarily":
That address will still work. And it'll give you the same set of pages as the other address. There are still some questions to be answered, such as whether to continue to use the web space I donated, or to acquire some other space and move there. All in due time!
And what ever happened to the "old" site? Who knows? Who cares? The service which was hosting it, AvaHost, was unresponsive to my attempts to get information. Tim Oehrke was very helpful to me while I was trying to figure out what to do, but he didn't have any better luck getting Ava's help than I did.
As always, visit your church's web site often, browse and enjoy. I'll make changes almost every day to try to keep its contents current. Let me know if you have questions about anything you see. And please contribute news items or other information!
June 21-29, 2010. It's time to move the new site to the hosting service where OUMC's old site1 resides. So I contact AvaHost, which hosts OUMC's old site.1 After a few helpful initial responses, they stop paying any attention to me. Nor do they respond when Tim Oehrke, who paid for our web space there, tries to get help. After several days of being ignored by AvaHost, we give up and decide to change the information at NameSecure, where OUMC's "domain name" is registered, to reflect the fact that our domain has moved. It didn't take more than a few minutes to make this change. See my progress report above.
June 22, 2010. My progress report to Church Council:
OUMC Web Site Progress
General. The redesigned church web site is up and running at (please note correct address):
Recent work. I've received and uploaded contributions from several churchfamily members, such as the latest Tomfoolery, photos and biographies of graduates, and photos taken at the women's retreat and at Hot Meal Ministry. Keep it up, brothers and sisters!
I started a page which contains a link to Tomfoolery, and which I hope will soon include any of Vern and Sergio's thoughts on any subject, in any language, which they may wish to contribute. Click on Pastor's Page at the home page to see it. Our pastors aren't limited to writing their columns on a monthly basis, as they were in The Net, but are welcome to submit them any time.
I added various tidbits of church news to a page which you may view by clicking on What's New at our home page. Everybody's contributions to this page are welcome.
Work in progress. I've thrown together a collection of pages from the new site which approximates the material formerly available in our newsletter, The Net. This information has been printed and placed on the table in the Narthex. It may be mailed out to members who are unable to attend services regularly and don't have internet access.
I've informed Sylvia and Rita, of the Preschool, of the new web site and am awaiting their input.
I contacted the company which hosts the "old" OUMC site -- AvaHost of Houston, Texas. I learned that their hosting service was paid for through the end of December, 2010, and that it costs $55.25 per year. It seems to include an unlimited amount of disk space. That's a reasonable price and I am investigating what will be involved in deleting any remnants of our old site1 and transferring the "new" site to their service. Our site would then have its former address of:
That address appears in all sorts of directories and lists. By moving our new site to the old location, we would eliminate forcing people to click on the "we have moved" message at the old site.1
May-June 2010. Now that the new site is really official, I place a "we've moved" message on the old site's1 home page to take viewers to the new site. I also try to clear away most of the "stuff" at the old site.1 It's a difficult process because the site maintenance package — Web Empowered Church (WEC) — is anything but easy to work with.2
May 25, 2010. It's "official" now! The following document was submitted to, and accepted by, the Church Council:
The new Orangethorpe United Methodist Church web site is ready to go. I only need your approval to be able to label it the "official" site, rather than an "experimental" site.
If you approve, I will change the church's "old" web site to include only a link directing visitors to the "new" site at:
There are still some technical issues to be resolved, such as exactly where the site will exist — at the service where the old site's1 files are stored, or in the space I've donated while working on the transition. In either case, there are are no costs being incurred by OUMC. I will keep Church Council advised of my progress, or of any problems I might run into.
The web site isn't my personal plaything. It is for you — everybody who attends or visits our church — to use. Please visit it, browse around, contribute information or articles, and make suggestions. It exists to help complement and enhance our worship experience at OUMC. It must reflect what is actually going on at our church.
Here are some ideas for features which could be included in the basic web site:
- A directory of all OUMC members, and regular visitors, replacing the directory which we try to print every few years which is usually out-of-date before it ever reaches our members. This could be in a special, password-protected section of the site.
- A newsletter substitute. We seem to be unable to produce the NET and make it available in a timely fashion. Even when we do, much of the stuff in it is a repeat of information from previous issues. Much of the NET's content could be put into the web site where it could be instantly (almost) updated. I've already started doing this via the new site's calendar page. Click on "our calendar" on the home page to see what I mean.
- Messages from our pastors in their favorite languages which they could amend or change whenever they wished.
- You name it! What would you like to see at our church's web site?
You're welcome to contact me any time with your ideas, or concerns.
April-May 2010. I'm busy creating a new site, the way I think it should be. It's a lot of trial-and-error work, with helpful feedback from several churchfamily members. I'm not using any kind of fancy web design software, just plain old-fashioned HTML.
April 28, 2010. I thought there was going to be an issue of THE NET coming out some time soon, so I submit the following article for publication. As it turns out, there's no more NET, but I thought it might be worth including the article here. I've inserted links in it so you can see some of the suggested features which have been put into practice:
A new web site for OUMC?
Our church's current web site, at http://www.oumc.net,1 has become obsolete and difficult to maintain. It contains much erroneous and unnecessary information. Your Church Council has authorized Chuck Carey to prepare a new site which will eventually replace the present site.
You can help Chuck by visiting the proposed new site, browsing around it, and giving him your opinion on any and all aspects of it -- its general style and appearance, ease of finding whatever you're looking for, and the sort of information it should contain, not only for our own use but for a first-time visitor or casual web surfer who happens to come across it.
You can also contribute to the new site. You're welcome to send Chuck information you'd like to see included -- articles about OUMC's history, its ministries, its people, etc. Chuck's e-mail address is "email@example.com". For the time being, the new "unauthorized, unofficial, experimental web site" is available to you at:
April 27, 2010. Why was a new site necessary? The following is a part of my presentation to Church Council tonight:
"An unauthorized, unofficial, experimental web site!"
What's this site – oumc.92833.org -- all about anyway? This is an attempt to demonstrate what Orangethorpe United Methodist Church's web site could, and perhaps should, be. Here's some background...
What's wrong with OUMC's current web site? Have you visited www.oumc.net1 lately? It was last updated some time in 2009 to reflect the arrival of a new pastor. There's a lot of obsolete and erroneous information there, as well as "boiler plate" text and graphics which don't have anything to do with OUMC. Some pages take forever to download or cause error messages. I was given access to the site about two years ago so I could make changes in certain areas. I managed to upload a nice photo of Pastor Sergio, but when I tried to make some other minor corrections, such as changing a few photo captions to identify people correctly, I got totally lost in a maze of templates, menus, lists, etc., and was never able to figure out how to do anything. I gave up! When I asked how we could replace all the photos of generic, politically-correct people with pictures of real people who attend our church, who are involved in real ministries, I got no answer.
The people who knew how to maintain our web site are long gone. That site is now worse than useless. It's an embarrassment!
What does OUMC's site cost? I searched through the financial documents I picked up at a recent church council meeting and couldn't find any mention of web hosting or web page software costs. The monthly megapath bill is obviously just for our internet connection and e-mail service, and not for our web site. But there must be records somewhere showing what we're paying to keep the OUMC web site going. Maybe we pay annually or quarterly? Maybe somebody (who?) donated enough to pay those bills? I don't know.
What can OUMC do? I've put together here a simple web site which contains valid information about what OUMC is doing, with some photos of the people who are involved in its ministries, to replace the current embarrassment. I'm adding new stuff to it every day. It will be mostly bilingual. "OUMC" and "Latino Ministry" are just one church. This new site may end up looking something like some other sites I've worked on:
- Orangethorpe Learning Center
- OUMC's monthly newsletter, THE NET, which has been available on line since February 2002
- OUMC's Latino Ministry site, which I haven't done much with lately
- Some information on our monthly food distributions
Anybody who wants to contribute material to the proposed site will be welcome to do so. Just e-mail me what you'd like to add and I'll format it and upload it within 24 hours and link it in to the main page. I would be glad to host the site for free, in the same web space where I'm hosting the sites I just mentioned, until such time as we can figure out where the old site1 is, what we're paying for it, and how to get rid of it.
Does OUMC need a web site? That's a good question. OUMC's English-speaking congregation may not be computer-literate enough to make much use of the world wide web. Hardly anybody in OUMC's Spanish-speaking congregation owns a computer. So, frankly, we don't really need a web presence for ourselves. But if we want to make known to any casual passer-by (a.k.a. web surfer) what we're doing, we need something. They should at least be able to see who we are, where we are, what we're doing, and how to contact us.
Correct information. I've always felt embarrassed to see so much misinformation in our church's newsletter, orders of worship and web site. If we can get a web site going which can be updated quickly and simply, it will be a source of information about our ministries and activities for our own members and for friends in the community who may wish to join us. Perhaps now people will show up at the right time and place for the right event.
If we do nothing, things will stay just as they are. If somebody in authority approves of this site, its "unauthorized, unofficial, experimental" label will be removed. Your comments and contributions are welcome.
March-April 2010. I create a few sample pages, borrowing odds and ends from other sites I had worked on, then print out a one-page handout to take to the next council meeting.
March 23, 2010. I attend a Church Council meeting, expressing my opinion that something should be done about the OUMC web site. The Council gives me its go-ahead to do something and to report back.