On Thanksgiving, my daughter and I joined my parents for our usual dinner together. This year, the minister of my father's small church and her sister ate with us, too. Over dinner, my father told me that he'd finally installed Ubuntu on his computer at home.
Sadly, Ubuntu 11.04 led to a heated debate (argument, I suppose) between my father and me a few months ago, which ended with him saying something along the lines of "Bill Gates for President," just to irritate me. (Don't pretend like you don't have these same kinds of arguments with your friends or family members!) My response to dear ole dad was something along the lines of, "Well it was easy enough me to install on the first try, but I'd be happy to come help you do it whenever you calm down." And that was the end of that discussion.
This time around, my pop installed Ubuntu 11.10 (on his own), which he thinks is dramatically better than 11.04. In fact, he likes it so much, he asked me what I thought about his minister using Ubuntu, which I enthusiastically supported. She's mostly online for basic web searches, email, and using word processing and spreadsheet applications.
Like I said, they have a small church, and I suppose you could say it's a pretty traditional, old-fashioned church (with a relaxed, casual-dress approach). With the exception of noticing one microphone, I haven't seen any technology introduced into their church services yet, but I predict that it will happen in 2012.
This brings me to my big question (and I'm not talking about THE big question, the one about the meaning of life):
What kinds of open source solutions are available for worship?
Here are four cool open source projects I found, but I'm curious about which other open source solutions are out there, so please leave your suggestions in the comments.
- OpenLP Worship Presentation Software: OpenLP (Open Source Lyrics Projection) rolled out version 2.0 in March 2011. OpenLP includes a searchable database of songs and lyrics for churches to project to their congregations. PowerPoint and OpenOffice presentations, video, and audio files can be run from within the program, too. OpenLP works with Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, Linux, Mac OS X (10.5 or 10.6), and FreeBSD.
- BibleTime: This free Bible study program's interface is built on the Qt framework. BibleTime 2.8.4 came out earlier this month. Visit bibletime.info to learn more.
- Zekr Qur'an: According to the project site, Zekr stands by the principle Never Profit Off The Prophet, which also means that this Qur'an study program is free and open source. Windows, Mac, and Linux users can all download Zekr, which is available in more than 20 languages.
- Caravel CMS: The Caravel CMS, which is hosted by Mennonite.net, was originally created to help non-technical users maintain website content. The CMS is free, open source, feature rich, and powers quite a few Mennonite church websites (among others).
Which other projects and applications are available for religious studies or for managing religious institutions and websites?