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Posted April 25, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Knee-mail: Church's technology prayers answered

Don Louque announces the grand prize winner
Don Louque, vice president of sales and marketing at Global Technology Services, announces the grand prize winner in Microsoft's technology makeover sweepstakes during a press conference Thursday at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Christ Episcopal to get upgrade from Microsoft

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The Rev. Webster Gibson, of Christ Episcopal Church, knows God sometimes works in mysterious ways.

But when the church recently received word that it had been selected as the grand prize winner of a $50,000 technology makeover sweepstakes from Microsoft Corp., Gibson was a bit skeptical.

"I deal with the human condition," he said. "When someone comes to you and says they're going to give you something for free, my first reaction tends to be, 'yeah right.'"

The 250-member congregation certainly faced long odds when its administrative assistant attended a meeting in January hosted by local Microsoft Gold partner Global Technology Services in conjunction with the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber.

The informational series is an attempt by the technology giant to reach out to small- and medium-sized businesses at the grassroots level, according to Don Louque, vice president of sales and marketing for GTS. Participants learn ways their organizations can use Microsoft technology to work better and more efficiently, then enter their names in a drawing for the chance to win the grand prize.

Christ Episcopal, which has a Web site and publishes a newsletter, was encountering glitches with its server, and its computers had become outdated, Gibson said.

"We chose to put out a proposal. We knew we had to upgrade," Gibson said.

About a week ago, the church received word that its prayers had been answered. Christ Episcopal was selected from over 500 entries in Microsoft's Mid-Atlantic region, which covers six states and the District of Columbia.

Louque made the announcement Thursday at a chamber press conference outside the church at 114 W. Boscawen St.

The prize package includes a new server, firewall, up to 20 desktop computers equipped with one-year subscriptions to Windows Live OneCare, copies of Office 2007 Ultimate, a laser jet printer, universal power supply and 12 months of complimentary Comcast Business Class high-speed Internet service.

GTS will install the equipment and provide training for the church's eight staff members.

"It's a huge step," Gibson said. "It's like going from a patchwork [system] to one that's 25 years down the road."

GTS will sit down with church officials in the coming weeks to map out the organization's needs. Gibson said some of the items on its "wish list" include simulcasting church services throughout the building, music and Web site-development software, and technology for youth programs.

The new server also will allow the church to host its own e-mail.

Louque said while it's somewhat unusual for churches to embrace the latest technology, Christ Episcopal stands to benefit.

"Just like any other small business or organization, they can learn to use technology to their advantage."

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