Blog Posts by Monica A. Coleman

  • Community formation and social media: Online altar rails

    Posted Aug 19, 2014 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | In many traditional churches in my denomination (A.M.E. Church), there are altar rails. An altar rail is a wooden railing that distinguishes the pulpit area from the rest of the sanctuary. They are most common in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist communions. Altar rails are sometimes ornate with carvings in marble. Other times, they are made of plain wood.

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  • Social justice and social media: If #BlackTwitter went to church

    Posted Aug 20, 2013 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | For me and many other African Americans, this summer has been dominated by the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin. Shortly after the verdict was rendered, media outlets announced that one of the jurors in the case had a secured a literary agent for a book deal to describe her experience on the trial’s jury.

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  • Youth ministry and social media: A process theology perspective

    Posted Jun 25, 2013 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | There are three generations living in my home: my mother, my partner and I, and our teenager and our infant. Conversations over dinner often reveal how much has changed over time. And what has not. One evening, my mother tells my teenager that she is becoming more adept in her usage of Facebook. The teenager rolls her eyes as she says that no one uses Facebook anymore.

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  • Prayer and new media: A liberation perspective

    Posted Mar 19, 2013 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | Communal prayer is a tactile experience for me. In my denominational tradition, African Methodism, we come to a wooden altar at the front of the church, kneel, and pray. In my favorite worship experiences, the “Altar Prayer” portion of the Sunday liturgy takes twenty or thirty minutes.

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  • New media and public grief

    Posted Dec 21, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I come from people who visit graves. My maternal grandfather died when my mother was an infant. She grew up going to visit her father’s grave. I grew up the same way. Whenever I’m in the general area of the cemetery, I go to visit, now to the graves of my maternal grandmother and my father as well.

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  • Pinning God

    Posted Nov 16, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I dashed into the small coffee shop to get out of the rain. The sound of the rain echoed around me as I discovered that I had encountered more than a shelter from the weather and more than a place for a latte or espresso. Just behind the coffee beans, pastries, and made-to-order sandwiches was an Eastern Orthodox Church. That was when I looked around and saw the icons for sale near the front door of the coffee shop.

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  • What churches do

    Posted Oct 30, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | “Can your church help out with that? Isn’t this what churches do?” I heard that question on two separate occasions as I planned for the arrival of my firstborn child.

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  • Up all night

    Posted Sep 21, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I don’t sleep at night anymore. I have a newborn baby, with twenty-four hour needs that come in one hour intervals. My child does not know the difference between day and night and has already learned that I’ll be there whenever. So I don’t really sleep at night anymore.

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  • A sense of church

    Posted Aug 17, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I really enjoy the use of new media in churches. When I can’t make it out of the house, I watch worship services via livestream on my smartphone. I prefer to tithe via credit card on the church website, and I love that my church sends pictures and announcements via email twice a week. And if my church had its own app ... I’d be in technology heaven. This allows me to feel connected even when I can’t make it to church.

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  • Church voyeur

    Posted Jul 20, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | Please be patient with me God is not through with me yet When God gets through with me When God gets through with me I shall come forth, I shall come forth as pure gold

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  • Yellow pages?!

    Posted Jun 22, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | Last week, I opened my front door and found the yellow pages telephone book on the steps. I wasn’t sure why I received one since there is no home telephone line in the household. Imagining no use for it other than boostering a small child in a kitchen chair, I didn’t bring it inside. Instead, as I walked out the door, I picked it up and took it directly to the recycling bin.

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  • The context of salvation

    Posted Jun 12, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | "How are we saved?" At first glance, this seems like a simple question for Christians. “Through Jesus.” Right? Well, generally....

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  • Should black churches use social media differently? Part 3

    Posted May 15, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | When I first traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to do a case study of Community of Hope AME Church (COH) in Prince George’s County, MD, I expected to see a church of people age 35 and under. After all, I had watched worship online and danced to a gospel song with a D.C. go-go beat from the comfort of my kitchen. The church website includes the words “hiphop” and video games.

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  • Should black churches use social media differently? Part 2

    Posted May 04, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | In a previous blog post, I raised the question of whether or not black churches should use social media differently than churches with other racial demographics. I noted that while African Americans represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, 25 percent of blacks online used Twitter in May 2011. Recent numbers indicate that as many as 40 percent of Twitter users are African American.

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  • Should black churches use social media differently?

    Posted Apr 20, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | Martin Luther King, Jr., often said that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour of the week. More than fifty years have passed since King’s assassination, and yet many scholars believe that Americans still experience a racial divide during Christian worship.

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  • Psalm 23 in a new media age: Part 2

    Posted Jan 17, 2012 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | In my last post, I suggested that contemporary Christians might think of God in metaphors with more direct relevance to our everyday lives than we are offered in the 23rd Psalm. I honestly believe that thinking of God as a shepherd was meaningful and even subversive and revolutionary for the ancient Israelites.

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  • Psalm 23 in a new media age: Part 1

    Posted Dec 16, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I learned Psalm 23 by heart in the King James Version before I could read it in the Bible. Many young people raised in Christian families memorized this psalm for one of the Christian education events of a local church: Easter play, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, talent shows.

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  • #occupychurch

    Posted Nov 21, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | Since the Civil Rights era, many communities with which I affiliate have been “looking for the next King.” In some ways, this sentiment is a direct reference to the legendary leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., recently commemorated in the memorial on the National Mall. It’s also a reference to a desire for singular charismatic leadership to lead people in effecting social change.

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  • Sounds of church

    Posted Oct 19, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | A couple of years into my career as a minister, I learned a short phrase about the sounds of church from another minister. There’s an awkward space of time at the beginning of a sermon when the preacher indicates the biblical passage from which the sermon will draw and the time it takes for people to flip to that passage in their individual Bibles.

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  • Talk back

    Posted Sep 14, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | My parents called it “talking back.” Some people call it “sassing.” It’s that willful behavior that children have when they just have to respond to what they’ve been told—sometimes with attitude, snarky upturn of lip or obvious petulance. The admonition not to “talk back” is a few steps from the adage, “children should be seen and not heard.” It’s one way that many people assert authority and maintain power.

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  • Ministry of presence

    Posted Aug 19, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I’m an ordained minister, but I’m not good at all that the life of ministry requires. I’m particularly embarrassed at how bad I am with hospital visitations. Early in my ministry career, I delighted when I put the clergy pass on my car’s dashboard and parked in the specially designated spot. Someone from the church was sick and asked, not for the pastor, but for me.

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  • People of the app?

    Posted Jul 12, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I’m into new media. I have a website, Twitter account, four Facebook pages, a LinkedIn profile, an old-school Myspace page, and I’m thinking about adding Tumblr. I use my smartphone for GPS, finding restaurants, playing crossword puzzles, texting, emailing, and sometimes talking. I keep a separate iPod for music, photos, and different apps. I’m fairly tech-ed out.

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  • I met my pastor on Facebook

    Posted Jun 17, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I met my pastor on Facebook. I hate to admit that because I’m one of those people who only “friends” people who are actually my friends. I don’t care if we know 42 of the same people. If I don’t know you, we aren’t friends. We aren’t even associates. Not until we meet. Then (assuming we like each other enough) we can be “friends” on Facebook.

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  • Nomadic christian

    Posted May 17, 2011 | New Media Project

    By Monica A. Coleman | I didn’t plan to be a nomad. Yet in the last decade, a combination of school, work and family saw me in a new city—across the country from the previous city—every two years. While I had moving down to a science (checklists, procedures, the three day un-pack), I was not a very good nomad.

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