LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT US:
We are an "emerging" church, which means you should throw out any churchy expectations you bring. We meet in rented space, have no pastors or other paid staff, seldom hear a sermon, and we don't make too big a deal about finances.
Visit our current website, http://www.thetablefellowship.net/ and read the copy to get to know The Table. 30-75 people attend on Sunday, we meet in a sunny building lots of windows on top of a beautiful hill overlooking a quiet college town in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. We have communion every week, time and space for reflection (talking in groups, art expressions, walking the stone prayer labyrinth, being outside, or sitting quietly), and lots of good music (we love to sing and are led by several talented singers, musicians, and a composer).
We use the table metaphor and stories of Jesus at a table with his friends a lot because they're fitting for our little group: you find nourishment and sustenance around a table, fellowship with your family and friends, the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup (communion or eucharist). Numerous table stories from the New Testament remind us that tables are messy places, with crumbs and stains on the table cloths, loud talking, the passing of food. Faith is messy, too, and we seldom get it right, but Jesus welcomes and accepts us anyway. We're considering calling the blog "Crumbs From The Table."
HERE IS WHAT WE NEED:
We need a home page and, if it differs, a secondary page. Deliver as a PSD. Please include a favicon design as part of your submission.
You don't necessarily need to design a logo graphic--graphical treatment of our name "The Table," would suffice--but if you have a brilliant logo design, that's a plus! The tagline "An emerging Mennonite church" can be placed in the logo or can be elsewhere in the home page design, or, it can just be part of the welcome paragraph.
OUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS:
The people we are and attract are intellectual progressives, tired of church as usual. Many are socially-minded college students, seminarians, professors, internationals, and peace-and-justice grad students who care deeply about (and frequently visit) other parts of the world. We want authentic dialogue about faith and what it means for our own lives and for our world, but also we just want to receive Jesus' friendship and share it with others.
WE LIKE THESE DESIGNS:
Our worship style is contemplative and reflective, yet joyful and celebratory. We want our website design to reflect dignity and grace, yet to have a lively, open feel to it. It should be contemporary, yet rooted in tradition. If it helps to know our artistic tastes, the table in the middle of our circular meeting space is often set with beautiful fabrics, candles, pottery, etc. from other (non-North American) cultures, acquired either from our travels or from Ten Thousand Villages, a Mennonite fair-trade retail chain (check out their site).
Checked Design Meltdown for church website ideas and really didn't care for most of them. They're either too producty, too praise band/megachurch-evangelical, or too alternative/grungy. The Lake Ridge example (hereafter referred to as LR) comes the closest because it's simple, inviting, and has subtle graphic ornamentation that gives it a bit of richness. The blue feels a bit cold, though. The welcome statement is gentle but hard to miss (and should only be on the home page IMHO). Having different photos at the top of each secondary page is nice, but that common welcome statement pushes the content too far down.
The colors and feel of Stonebriar (found on CSSBeauty.com and hereafter referred to as SB) are nice, especially the texture at the top with the tapestry/floral look. I like the prominence and style of the service times and location with the map link and the what to expect link. Below that point, it's blah until you get to the "this week at SB" footer. I like the colors and texture of the "this week" feature, though we probably have no need for that content ourselves. Too bad it's below the fold--it would look nice balancing the orange hues at the top if it were a side feature above the fold.
We'll probably want a photo area like LR and SB, but perhaps want it tied in with the welcome/who-we-are text better than SB does. Given the amount and type of content we have, a layout more like LB's might be better: vertical nav (that nicely breaks that header boundary) and content to the right of a sidebar.
We find the religious designs at major template websites nauseating! If you're thinking doves, white chapels, bibles, and little crosses, don't even bother!
WE ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE (or we don't want to see) THIS IN OUR DESIGN:
Design should be fixed width, centered horizontally like LR and SB, but narrower than SB (964 px). More like LR's 814 px or a tad bit bigger is good.
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