The use of mobile technology among churches, congregations and other Christian communities is still in its infancy. Congregational mobile technologies project develops and applies information and communications technology applications to be used in connection with religious content and related church ceremonies and services. The project is being realised through multidisciplinary cooperation between the University of Eastern Finland's School of Computing and School of Theology. The Joensuu Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as well as the Church Council are also participating in the project.
The project develops tools and methods for using mobile environments in particular to support congregations and their members as well as to promote interactive and experiential church activities. The project increases the social capital of members of congregations by enabling them to become more closely involved with the religious life of the church through new operating environment. The project offers new possibilities for congregations to fulfill their duties by increasing the spiritual wellbeing of their members and society through the greater accessibility of different services. There is also international demand for the results of the project. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the church has a different position in the lives of communities and individuals and generally plays a stronger role than in Finland.
The project involves research cooperation from the perspectives of pedagogy of religion and computer science. The applications will be developed through methods involving user participation. These methods are based on computer science, especially usability research, but require the profound understanding of the areas of application provided by theological research.
The target groups of the project are church congregations and Christian communities as organisations and their members as individuals. The technologies to be developed in the project will serve to facilitate dialogue between these players, mainly when dealing with questions of spiritual life. The user groups include both ordinary congregation members and congregation employees. The results of the project are being studied, developed and turned into products by the congregation technology research, development and innovation cluster established during the project, whose members include research units and companies operating in this area.
European Social Fund (ELY Centre of North Karelia), 418 000€; The Church Council, 80 000€, 2013-2015.
Ilkka Jormanainen (ilkka.jormanainen at uef.fi)