trinity stained glassClient: Trinity United Church of Christ
Location: Chicago, IL
Size: approximately 8000 congregants
Membership age range: All ages
Solution: PhoneTree 96-Port Rackmount System

An Active Church From the Beginning

Trinity United Church of Christ was founded in 1961 in Chicago during the pivotal Civil Rights movement. Carrying on the mantle of liberation that was passed from predecessors in the Congregational Christian Church, Trinity has been an advocate for social justice and civil rights from its very beginnings.

Trinity UCC has a new Pastoral Vision, announced in fall of 2014, with four distinct pillars that calls it to be:

  • A Christ-Centered Church
  • A Liberation Church
  • An African-Centered Church, and
  • A Community Centered Church

These goals manifest through worship and bible study, ministry, history, cultural celebrations, community service and activism.

Some of Trinity’s ministries include:

  • church in society ministry
  • math tutorial ministry
  • prison ministry
  • drugs & alcohol recovery ministry
  • Immabasi (health and wellness) ministry
  • domestic violence ministry
  • worship & arts ministries (5 different choirs), drill team, drama ministry, mime ministry
    and much more!

To aid in its ministries, Trinity has birthed five corporations – a federally chartered credit union, two senior housing complexes, The Endeleo Institute (a community development and growth operation), and Trinity Childcare Center.

One of the largest initiatives is Imani Village – a 30-acre mixed use development that will include senior housing, low income and market income housing, retail space, a school, a health facility and urban agriculture. Imani Village is being developed about 1 mile down from the church on the south side of Chicago.

Growth Necessitates a More Sophisticated Communication Strategy

With so many ministries and activities to keep track of, and a membership that has grown to approximately 8000 congregants – communication can be challenging. So how does Trinity manage church communication?

Daryle Brown, Executive Director-Multimedia and Communications, explained that Trinity’s large size and diverse demographics require many different communication methods.

Our weekly bulletin is the primary means of communication. It’s anywhere from 16-28 pages long, and is published for each Sunday’s worship services. We also have a mobile app that we use to highlight major activities. It has an event function that works well for us.

The internet is part of the toolkit as well.

We update our website banners often to make sure they are current with the top 2-3 events coming up. Social media plays a role too. We have about 5,000 followers on Twitter and almost 10,000 followers on Facebook. We also have a YouTube channel (nearly 4,000 subscribers) where we post service and musical highlights.

With so many communication options, some might think that an automated calling system is unnecessary. Daryle would disagree.

We  give congregants the opportunity to choose how they want to receive messages. Many of our ‘senior saints’ in particular prefer phone communication.

Trinity uses their PhoneTree system at least once a week, sometimes twice, to send voice calls – typically regarding upcoming special Sunday events, or events that fall outside normal activity times. A couple of examples:

  • For Black History Month, Trinity used a calling post to promote a remembrance event that traced the journey of West African ancestors and their descendants from enslavement all the way to freedom and present day Chicago.
  • Recently Trinity promoted a stewardship conference that was focused on developing financial management skills.

Controlling Delivery of Communication Is an Important Consideration

In the past Trinity paid an outside vendor to handle all messaging. It became quite costly, and leadership decided to go with the PhoneTree 96-Port Rackmount – an onsite automated calling solution the church controls – to handle their calling.

Switching to PhoneTree was a very cost-effective move. It provides more convenience and control since we handle our own sends.

No need to wait on a third party to process and send a message when the church can send it directly.

We especially like that posts can be recorded on an iPhone from anywhere so the pastor doesn’t have to be sitting in front of the PhoneTree unit to record the message that will be sent.

Keep an Eye on Trinity United Church of Christ!

Given the fast pace of technological change and a diverse congregation, it’s impossible to choose just one best-method for church communication. Trinity United Church of Christ has had great success by relying on a variety of communication tools to meet differing preferences within the congregation. Based on their previous success, we believe Trinity United Church of Christ stands out as leader to watch in the world of congregational communication.

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