During 2021 and 2022, the Commission on Congregational Mission set out to learn about some of the challenges of technology use and the church in light of the need for our churches to quickly pivot online, and to learn how the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin can support our churches with their technology needs. Many of our churches have been slow to adapt to online streaming and other modifications during the pandemic. But the Commission recognizes that this shift into incorporating technology into our church life is not going away. Below you will find a report and resource developed from their efforts.
Rural Internet Service: Rural Wisconsin faces some unique challenges in bringing adequate high-speed internet service to communities. Physical barriers such as hills, tree foliage, and water are part of the problem, but also the increased usage by telehealth and telework expansion that stresses the system. The internet infrastructure in rural Wisconsin is not adequate to provide the speed and bandwidth needed for the hundreds of thousands of people now utilizing these services. Another difficulty is substandard electronics. The large internet companies available in metro areas do not service rural Wisconsin. Rev. Russ Antos contributed to this report.
Computer Access: Dr. Carolyn Parker created a list of low cost tablets under $100 with information on each tablet and the store where to purchase them (see information below). The service Digital Bridge provides several free resources including low cost computers, low cost internet, tutorials on how to use Zoom and how to set up parental controls, recycling computers, and classes on digital literacy. www.digitalbridge.ngo . Colleges and universities may have computer donation programs to help. Microsoft provides free or low cost software for 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. Greater Mt. Zion has benefited from the donation of computers from Herzing University and has offered senior digital literacy classes at their church. Mrs. Linda Cutler contributed to this report.
Digital Literacy: many seniors do not know how to use computers, email, or Zoom, let alone Facebook or other aspects of digital life. Some of our pastors and churches have also been slow to adapt. Classes are offered through Greater Mt. Zion in Milwaukee as well as tutorials through Digital Bridge and Zoom itself to help people learn and become comfortable with the technology.
From these reports, Rev. Karen Sundland and the Commission created a Technology Needs/Volunteers survey for our churches. The survey can be accessed here. This survey will help create a database of tech volunteers from our ABCWI churches who can be paired with churches to address the technology needs also shared in the survey. The resources gathered on computer access and digital literacy are also to be shared with our churches in response to the survey. Furthermore, through a connection from the Commission to a South Carolina Cancer Clinic, computers were donated to the Region Office to help upgrade the technology in use by our region and to provide four laptops to pastors and seminary students in need. The application for laptops for pastors is found here. The deadline to apply is September 30th, 2022 and the application was emailed out to all active pastors and seminary students.
These resources and more will be shared on our website, www.abcofwi.org.
Tablets Under $100.00 (as of June 2022)
|Fire Tablet 7”display 16GB (2019)||Black||49.99|
|Fire HD tablet 8’ display 32GB (2020)||Black||89.99|
|Cooper Tablet 10” Android 32GB tablet computer, 8MP camera||Slate||79.99|
|ZZB Tablet 10” Andoid 32GB 8MP Camera||Black||79.99|
|VANKYO MatrixPad S8 8 inch Tablet, Android 9.0 Pie, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB Storage, IPS HD Display, Quad-Core Processor, Dual Camera, GPS, FM, Wi-Fi||Black||89.99|
|Vankyo MatrixPad S20 10” Android 9 tablet 32GB Bluetooth 5.0, 5G WiFi, GPS, USB||Grey||94.49|
|Gateway 10.1″ Android Tablet, HD, Quad Core Processor, 2GB Memory, 32GB Storage, 2.0 MP Front Camera, 5.0 MP Rear Camera, Android 11 Go Edition||Black, Purple
|Gateway 8″ Android Tablet, HD, Quad Core Processo, 32GB Storage, 2.0 MP Front Camera, 5.0 MP Rear Camera, Android 11 Go Edition,||Black, Purple
|Supersonic – 7″ – Tablet – 8GB||Black||72.99|
|Lenovo – Tab M8 HD (2nd Gen) – 8″ – Tablet – 32GB –||Iron Grey||94.99|
|Visual Land – Prestige Elite 10QL – 10.1″ – Tablet – 16GB – With Keyboard||Blue||94.99|
|Digiland 10.1” tablet 32GB||Blue||99.99|