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The Internet has opened doors for people to connect over long distances. People chat face-to-face with someone thousands of miles away as if they are sitting across the table. Social media platforms available on smartphones make connections instantaneously.
A new door will be opened for the online students of Liberty University with the launching of a new website, dubbed “Online Communities” at http://liberty-university.churchonline.org/ on Sept. 17.
“This website will provide interactivity among the students as they participate and attend services,” Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore said. “You not only get to view what’s happening on campus, but participate with what’s happening on campus.”
According to Moore, Liberty University has wanted to replicate the community experience provided to those on campus to the online side of the university.
“We’ve been thinking about it for a number of years, trying different things, starting different programs,” Moore said.
“Naturally, we thought that this technological innovation provided a platform upon which we can deliver more of the community components that make the spiritual atmosphere here so strong.”
According to Mark Hine, the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, the website will also provide spiritual support through chat rooms, live chat and prayer support.
“Chancellor Jerry Falwell wanted a way to reach out to our online students and connect them more closely with Liberty and with each other,” Hine said. “He also wanted an effective way to minister to this population spiritually in a manner similar to our resident campus ministry. He cast the vision, supported our efforts and Director of Online Communities for Student Affairs Ted Whitney—along with great assistance from our IT department—has put the initial platform in place.”
Hine said that he would like to spend some time assisting with prayer requests, and Moore said that he plans on participating in the website’s ministry once it kicks off.
“I might slip in as a counselor occasionally online,” Moore said. “I will for sure be talking lots about it.”
Moore, Hine and the various staff members who are involved in this project have expressed their excitement about the website’s future.
“We are thrilled to roll out this new platform to specifically engage our online and resident students in campus events,” Whitney said. “We want to give all students more access to events happening around Liberty University so that they feel engaged.”
Moore said that he is looking forward to seeing the online community, which includes over 80,000 students, have the opportunity to enjoy more of the Liberty experience.
“I’d love to see our inboxes filled with students talking about how this online community platform not only has provided them the opportunity to experience the unique Liberty experience, but it’s also had a tangible effect on their lives,” Moore said.
Hine said that he is looking forward to connecting with online students and to hearing their thoughts about Liberty.
“Technology gives us the ability to overcome distance and language barriers and minister to students around the world like never before,” Hine said. “Only eternity will reveal all that occurs as a result of this wonderful undertaking.”
Ted Whitney encourages interested Christian Service volunteers to contact his office about live-chat moderator opportunities. Contact Mr. Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 434-592-3413.