by Matt Gardner
Locating an Anglican or Lutheran church anywhere in Canada is quicker and easier than ever thanks to a convenient new website.
A joint venture between the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), findachurch.ca uses a simple interface to help users instantly find a church near them or in an area where they plan on travelling.
Web manager Brian Bukowski, who played the leading role for the Anglican church in developing the new site, said the idea evolved out of talks with ELCIC communications director Trina Gallop Blank.
While the ACC had long floated the idea of a church locator for Anglicans, the ELCIC had its own church-finding website which was then in need of redevelopment.
“She and I had a conversation and there it became clear that we were both looking for a solution,” Bukowski said.
The Rev. Dr. Larry Kochendorfer, bishop of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories and a member of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission (JALC), praised the joint website as a “great and visible sign” of the full communion partnership between the two churches.
“The fact that you can search for Anglican and Lutheran congregations at the same time opens up a whole breath of possibilities,” Kochendorfer said.
He noted that someone looking for an ACC congregation in an area not served by an Anglican church can, “in a very Full Communion way,” locate a Lutheran church in the same area, and vice versa.
The evolution of the website, he added, further reflected that communal spirit.
“The Lutherans have had a Find a Congregation online resource for quite some time now,” Kochendorfer said. “It was great that the ELCIC site could provide the starting point for the new joint Find a Church resource.
“By working collaboratively between the two national offices, my understanding is they were able to streamline the process and provide enhancements to the resource that would mutually benefit the wider Anglican and Lutheran communities.”
With the findachurch.ca domain donated from the Anglican diocese of Ontario, the new site was built from scratch to meet modern web standards, accessible on phone, tablet and desktop alike.
The landing page features a search box in which users can type an address, postal code or the name of a church, with the option of bringing up Anglican churches, Lutheran churches or both.
Search results will pull up a list of churches with each entry containing a street address, mailing address, contact information and map. Users who wish to narrow their results can also use the Advanced Search option, which allows them to search by province, diocese, synod or by using keywords.
An additional feature, Find a Person, is currently available only for the ELCIC, but may be expanded in what Bukowski refers to as “Phase 2” of the website rollout.
To ensure information is accurate and up-to date, users may contact the web manager at any time to request changes and offer feedback—with the latter helping to further develop the site as new features are added.
“We know that as it’s being used, people will use it in new and interesting and creative ways and have ideas to improve it,” Bukowski said.
“We’ll find weaknesses to it and we’re very much open to hear what people think, both in the positive and what could be changed to make it improved, because we see it as a living site.”