A web template for the Scottish Episcopal Church

One of the things that I’ve been working on recently is the idea of a web template for the Scottish Episcopal Church. The idea is to come up with a very simple WordPress theme that can be used in different situations across the church, particularly for churches and other bodies which are formally part of the SEC which don’t already have a web presence that they are proud of.

There has been quite a bit of interest in this, particularly from some parts of the church who feel themselves to be web-challenged and short of cash.

Now, this is not a magic wand. Nor is it the final answer to how everyone should communicate. It is simply a tool that will help solve some problems and won’t solve others.

The template is in the form of a WordPress theme, which means that it can be used to produce websites that are relatively easy to maintain.

It will be freely distributed at no cost. Does that mean you get a website for free? No, but it does reduce your costs. You will still, most likely, end up paying for web-hosting from someone. However, dioceses could set up sites for churches if they want to and individuals could opt to resell web space with the template installed. You can’t charge for the template though, that will always be open source, whilst any image containing the Scottish Episcopal Church’s logo will be freely licensed for use by any official part of the church – that means congregations, dioceses, chaplaincies etc. It is not suitable for mission organisations, parachurch organisations or pressure groups, who will all have their own distinctive identity in any case.

In order to use a website using the template, someone will need to have certain skills including: being able to resize photographs, typing text into text boxes to put posts online, changing dates in a date-picker, being able to log in and out of a site and remember a password and ticking boxes to assign posts to particular categories. None of these is are particularly difficult and could be learned in a couple of hours.

In order to set up a website using the template, some other skills are needed, including: being able to obtain web hosting with a working WordPress installation, uploading of a file containing the theme, changing the settings on the site to allow or prevent discussion (comments), thinking about the structure and sections needed, assigning menus to the contents of the site. Those tasks will not be for everyone, but they should not be regarded as being only for computer geeks and professionals.

There is still some work to be done on this before it is released to the wider world, but knowing the keen interest in it, I’ve put together some websites which use the prototype that I’ve developed.

So, what about the sites built using the prototype. In order to demonstrate what is possible, I’ve dreamed up the Diocese of Bass Rock and a number of ministries within that fictional diocese.

So, here is what the Diocese of Bass Rock’s website might look like: The Diocese of Bass Rock.

Any of the sections of any of these websites can be replaced. The menu headings are for the person setting up the page to determine, the template makes no presumptions about the shape of ministry anywhere.

Here’s what the simplest possible web page might look like, for a very small outfit that just wants a decent one-page site to give very simple information: St Anaglypta by the Skerry

Here’s a more extensive site, similar in complexity to the diocesan one: The church of St Eucalyptus on the Rocks.

And here is an example of how someone might use the template to support a different kind of ministry, that of a university chaplain. In this case, the site has some articles on the front page, a couple more accessible by menus and also a chaplain’s blog: Bass Rock University Episcopal/Anglican Chaplaincy

Like I said, these are built with a prototype which might well change. These sites are offered more as proof of concept than being the last word. For those who like to know these things, the WordPress theme is based on Hybrid, by Justin Tadlock.

Also, I’m aware that the most tricky part of this venture is yet to be begun, which is writing some documentation and offering pointers to people as to how to get started.

I’ll be putting a notice about this in inspires online next week, but for now, think of this post as a sneak preview.

If you want to ask questions or make comments about the project, I’m all ears.


  1. Rosemary Hannah says

    I must say I did enjoy them, but there is the slight fear real entries might be less amusing.

    I am not sure that a liking for the web and IT is in any way correlated with past experience, or training or anything. I have a customer in her late eighties who has taken to my smart phone like a duck to water, having never had any background in anything like it. Sad thing is it worries her husband so much she is not likely to get anything like it … but it just goes to show. At least now she knows what others are talking about.

  2. I really like the examples that you made. The template looks nice…not too fancy, but not super plain either. I think that it would be really helpful for smaller congregations to advertise online.

  3. Thanks for the sneak preview, it looks great!
    Just what we are looking for in our church in Monifieth.
    The programs that we are using just now are out of date and difficult to use, so we are needing to re-do the whole site.
    Very grateful to you for your hard work in putting this together.
    Looking forward to trying out the real thing.

  4. Hilary Moran says

    Looks great. Will be great if a lot of churches take your offer up and use it. Well done.

  5. Trying it out (not on main site yet!) – see above link. It seems an awfully wide header for a fixed-width layout (surely responsive would have been better?) Otherwise it’s looking great, and I look forward to trying out more of the features!

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