Church Computer User's Group

CCUG was an early computer users's group for Christians and Churches in the UK.

The following article, used without permission, was printed in the final newsletter.  It is published here as a matter of historical record.

CCUG - A Brief History

Looking back at past issues of Church Computer I note that the first issue of the germinal newsletter was published on 28th. April 1982. It was just three duplicated A4 sheets, folded together to make a 12 page A5 booklet, of which only 10 pages were printed on. How things have changed in the world of IT since then!

In the eighties the early adopters of the new computer technology for church use needed all the help they could get. The technology itself was very new and untried. A multitude of different machines meant that people often wanted to know how a particular task could be done on their machine. Specialist programs were often unavailable and one often had to sit down a write a suitable program from scratch. So ideas were eagerly sought after and exchanged and CCUG flourished. At one time it looked as though growth of membership would soar into the tens of thousands.

Now the technology has settled down (for almost everyone) into either a PC-based machine or a MAC-based machine. The skills required to use these machines are readily available. Few congregations could not boast a large handful of competent people, and of course there has been a great take up of computer use amongst the clergy/ministers. Many tasks can be accomplished with standard office programs for the PC and the MAC. Where specialist software is required suitable programs for most things are available from a range of Christian software houses. We have to conclude that the obvious needs for CCUG are not so apparent. This is born out by the fact that CCUG membership, which grew and grew, year on year, peaking at well over 2,000 members, had by the late 90s plateaued out at around 1200 paid up members, and each year new members barely made up for those who didn;t renew.

Over the years the Executive Committee has repeatedly asked itself whether CCUG's usefulness had come to an end. For many years we concluded that there was still a continuing role for us, but other factors started to come into the equation. Most of us on the Executive had been around since the early days, and were not getting any younger! Some of the small band of volunteers that kept the show on the road had retired, others had greater responsibilities within the church or within their secular employment that made it more difficult to give any more time to CCUG. We found it difficult to recruit new and younger helpers, and the burden of writing for the newsletter fell ever more heavily on the few left.

All these things moved us to the conclusion that change there must be. The crunch came in 2003. First we decided that we would cease to issue the regular printed newsletter Church Computer, and the annual Church Computer Directory. Instead we published via the medium of the web and sought to build up our presence on the web.

We also discontinued the practise of having a stall at Christian Resources Exhibitions. This was a major expenditure each year, which we accepted willingly because we always saw the CRE’s as being one of the few times when we could meet members face to face to face. However it was difficult to justify a continuing presence there in terms of providing new members; many who joined at a CRE left within a couple of years.

With costs at a minimum - it doesn't cost much to maintain a web presence compared to the costs of the previously printed materials - and with everything available to anyone who cared to look, the concept of membership seemed unneccesary. So the end of 2003 also saw CCUG cease to have paid-up members.

For a while the new system went well. This web site was developed - it went through a number of evolutions - and the CCUG Directory was successfully made available in a searchable database-driven format. Unfortunately, however, new material and new ideas continued to be in short supply, and eventually dried up altogether.

In 2006, the Trustees, in consultation with the remaining members of the Executive Committee, took the view that CCUG's life was over and you are reading the result of that decision.

Before signing off, may we thank all members who have supported CCUG over the last 24 years.

May God bless you in all that you seek to do in his name.

Outgoing Trustees: Martin Adams, Paul Haworth, Nicholas Smith, and Graham Spicer and not forgetting the original author of these words, the former chairman and founder of CCUG, Stoker Wilson.

Miscellaneous information uploaded by David Phillips