PE Churchnet shares this reflection on its 20 years of linking local Christians in Port Elizabeth and surrounds
The vision and mission of PE Churchnet was born 20 years ago with a single page posted to the internet on November 27 1998 (see that page here: http://www.pechurchnet.co.za/post/oldhome.php )
Shaun Gouws posted the page out of a growing frustration with the lack of communication (and therefore unity) between local churches and their member Christians.
The idea was to use the Internet — then relatively new — as a medium to provide a universally accessible platform where information could be made available about anything and everything relevant to Christians in Port Elizabeth and surrounds — what is now known as the Nelson Mandela Metro.
With support from Erik Momsen and the leadership of Bluewater Bay United (Community) Church, Shaun’s vision expanded rapidly.
Over the next couple of months he met with close on 50 pastors and leaders to discuss ideas, many of which were implemented and remain a foundation of PE Churchnet’s activities today.
In May 1999 Shaun was released to go into the ministry of PE Churchnet full time.
The last 20 years have provided many challenges and seen some extremely tough times, but by the grace of God we have been able to persevere through these.
We believe that the services PE Churchnet provides to our local community are unique and to the best of our knowledge there is nothing similar anywhere else in South Africa.
Our online Christian Business Directory has been running since February 1999 and we believe is the longest-running of its kind in the country and possibly the world.
Our primary tools are our website, which now comprises several thousand pages, as well as regular email communication with churches and individuals. We interact with a wide range of Christians from almost every denomination.
Over the course of the last 20 years we have, at various times and ways, partnered or worked alongside ministries and Christian organisations active in the Nelson Mandela Metro including the Transformation Christian Network, Nelson Mandela Bay Prayer Network, Kingfisher FM, Gateway News, OM, African Enterprise and many others.
Our prime mission after 20 years still remains to be an agent for unity among believers in Jesus Christ in our metro, hence our slogan “Linking Local Christians”. With God’s help and by His grace alone, we are building the net, one link at a time.
There are a number of main areas of our website which include a calendar, the Christian Business Directory, the Church Directory, classifieds, a Ministries Directory, music, news, and resources and links.
Timeline of PE Churchnet’s growth:
- November 27 1998 — Port Elizabeth Church Net launched with a single web page.
- February 9 1999 — Our domain pechurchnet.co.za was registered.
- February 12 1999 — The first business was listed in our online Christian Business Directory.
- May 11 1999 — Shaun was released into the work of PE Churchnet full time as a “tentmaking ministry”.
- October 1 1999 — The first edition of our weekly E-Newsletter was mailed out. This was sent out every Friday for several years.
- Early 2000 — We sent out our first E-Calendar; since 2002 this has been sent out weekly on Mondays, 52 weeks of the year.
- Mid 2004 — We sent out our first E-Classifieds; this is sent out weekly on Thursdays, 52 weeks of the year.
- December 2010 — We printed and distributed the first annual supplement booklet to our online Christian Business Directory.
- June 2016 — We launched our new mobile-friendly website.