Mailman E-mail Lists

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As of 02 April, 2020, we have transitioned to a new system for e-mail lists, based on the popular Mailman platform. We have replaced the legacy lists that were in place for most Sunday School classes, small groups, and teams, as well as the very important and popular church-wide “broadcast” list. Additional lists likely will be added in the near future.

Everyone who was a member of one of the legacy FCUMC e-mail lists has been subscribed to the corresponding new e-mail list. Please update your personal contacts database to reflect the new @ferncreek.church e-mail addresses for your lists and begin using these new addresses going forward.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that may be helpful:

What exactly is an e-mail list?

Sometimes called e-mail reflectors or listservs, an e-mail list is simply a service that allows for sending an e-mail to a single address and having that e-mail automatically re-sent to a large number of subscribers (a.k.a. members).

Remind me again, what is the purpose of these mail lists?

There are basically three primary uses for these lists:

  1. In most cases, these lists should be used to promote discussion and interaction between the members. This is particularly true for Sunday School classes, small groups, and teams. Especially in these times of “social distancing,” we encourage you to take advantage of these lists to maintain a regular dialog with your fellow team/group/class members. Just make sure you’re subscribed, then send an e-mail to your group’s address to start the discussion!
  2. All the lists should be used for important announcements. This is the main purpose of the church-wide “broadcast” list (and the reason why everyone should subscribe to this list). But you can and should be taking advantage of the same capability for all the smaller lists. Got some news that applies to your group? Send a quick e-mail! Team leaders–take advantage of this capability to keep your team informed of things that impact your particular area!
  3. Finally, FCUMC will be stepping up our game soon with respect to the church calendar. Invitations to meetings and events will be sent automatically to the appropriate teams, classes and groups when the event is added to the church calendar. If your team leader calls a meeting, you will immediately get the invitation, and it can be added automatically to your calendar. Likewise, if an event is canceled or rescheduled, you will be notified immediately, and your personal calendar can be updated automatically, if you like. And don’t worry–if you keep your personal calendar on a piece of paper on the refrigerator, these meeting invitations will arrive in “human-readable” format, so you can manually update your personal calendar. Old school or new school, you’ll always be up-to-date. Look for more details on these calendar invitations, coming soon.
What lists are available?

Here are the new lists that are ready for use as of 02 April, 2020:

Alpha-Omega FCUMC Alpha and Omega Class
Broadcast FCUMC church-wide broadcast
Children FCUMC Children’s Ministry Team
Choir FCUMC Choir
Comm-Admins FCUMC communications administrators
Communications FCUMC Communications Team
Compassion FCUMC Compassion Class
Council FCUMC Church Council
Evangelism FCUMC Evangelism Team
Finance FCUMC Finance Team
Friendship FCUMC Friendship Class
Higher-Ed FCUMC Higher Education and Campus Ministry Team
Inspiration FCUMC Inspiration Class
L3 FCUMC L3 Team
Lay-Leadership FCUMC Lay Leadership Team
Outreach FCUMC Outreach Team
PDO FCUMC Parents’ Day Out Board of Directors
Potpourri FCUMC Potpourri Class
Praise-Team FCUMC Praise Team
Safe-Sanctuaries FCUMC Safe Sanctuaries Team
SPR FCUMC Staff-Parish Relations Team
Trustees FCUMC Board of Trustees
UMM FCUMC United Methodist Men
Wesleyan FCUMC Wesleyan Class
Worship FCUMC Worship Team

The list above will likely change over time. You can always find the latest, complete listing of available FCUMC e-mail lists here on the Mailman List Info Page:

https://mail.ferncreek.church/mailman/listinfo

If you don’t see an e-mail list for your favorite FCUMC team or small group, just ask. We’ll be happy to make one for you!

What lists should I join?

Everyone should join the church-wide Broadcast list. You should also subscribe to each of the lists specific to your Sunday School class, your small groups, and the teams/committees to which you are assigned.

How do I join/subscribe to a list?

There are several ways to join (subscribe to) a list. Let's say you want to join the hypothetical "Example" list. The regular address for this list would be example@ferncreek.church (so once you're subscribed, that's the address you would send to for your message to be re-transmitted to all the members of the Example list).

Here are two of the easiest options:

Option 1 - Send an e-mail to the list's -request address

  1. Since the regular address for this list is example@ferncreek.church, in order to subscribe, you want to send an e-mail in this case to example-request@ferncreek.church. (For other lists, use [listname]-request@ferncreek.church.) In the subject line of this e-mail, just type the word "subscribe" and nothing else.
  2. You will soon receive an e-mail in response, requesting you to confirm your address. If you don't see that e-mail in your inbox within about 30 seconds, check your Spam folder (or perhaps a different folder like "Updates" in Gmail). Simply send a reply to that e-mail without changing the subject. You don't have to type anything else in your reply.

Option 2 - Subscribe from list's information page

  1. Go to the FCUMC Mailman Info Page and click on the link for the list you wish to join.
  2. In the first box on the page, type in your e-mail address. We'd prefer that you type your name in the second box, but it's not required. In fact, nothing else is required.
  3. Click the "Subscribe" button.
  4. You will soon receive an e-mail in response, requesting you to confirm your address. If you don't see that e-mail in your inbox within about 30 seconds, check your Spam folder (or perhaps a different folder like "Updates" in Gmail). Simply send a reply to that e-mail without changing the subject. You don't have to type anything else in your reply.

Whether you choose Option 1 or Option 2, that's all there is to it! For lists that are "open," you should now be subscribed, and you should receive a welcome e-mail. For lists that are "closed," you will first receive an e-mail indicating that one of the administrators will have to manually approve your subscription, but that approval should usually happen within a few hours.

Option 3 - Ask an administrator to subscribe you

For this option, see the answer to "What if I am not comfortable subscribing or unsubscribing myself?"

How do I leave/unsubscribe from a list?

There are several ways to leave (unsubscribe from) a list. Let's say you want to leave the hypothetical "Example" list. The regular address for this list would be example@ferncreek.church.

Here are two of the easiest options:

Option 1 - Send an e-mail to the list's -request address

  1. Since the regular address for this list is example@ferncreek.church, in order to unsubscribe, you want to send an e-mail in this case to example-request@ferncreek.church. (For other lists, use [listname]-request@ferncreek.church.) In the subject line of this e-mail, just type the word "unsubscribe" and nothing else.
  2. You will soon receive an e-mail in response, requesting you to confirm. If you don't see that e-mail in your inbox within about 30 seconds, check your Spam folder (or perhaps a different folder like "Updates" in Gmail). Simply send a reply to that e-mail without changing the subject. You don't have to type anything else in your reply.

Option 2 - Unsubscribe from list's information page

  1. Go to the FCUMC Mailman Info Page and click on the link for the list you wish to leave. The same link to this "list information page" can be found in the footer of every e-mail you have received through the list.
  2. In the bottom box on the page, type in your e-mail address.
  3. Click the "Unsubscribe or edit options" button.
  4. On the next screen, click the "Unsubscribe" button.
  5. You will soon receive an e-mail requesting your confirmation. If you don't see that e-mail in your inbox within about 30 seconds, check your Spam folder (or perhaps a different folder like "Updates" in Gmail). Simply send a reply to that e-mail without changing the subject. You don't have to type anything else in your reply.

Whether you choose Option 1 or Option 2, that's all there is to it! You should receive an e-mail confirming that you've been unsubscribed.

Option 3 - Ask an administrator to unsubscribe you

For this option, see the answer to "What if I am not comfortable subscribing or unsubscribing myself?"

What if I am not comfortable subscribing or unsubscribing myself?

Don’t worry! Any of our administrators will be happy to make any changes for you. We encourage you to try to self-service first, but if this all seems like too much to handle, just contact us. As long as you know how to receive your e-mail, someone will take care of getting you set up however you like.

Why change from the old system?

It’s a long story, but without paying for a significant upgrade, the old system was locked into a state that required a lot of manual intervention, wasn’t scalable, was pretty inflexible, and was resulting in a lot of people not successfully receiving the e-mails.

By comparison, the new system is much more flexible, scalable, and allows users to make their own changes (although some lists may require owner/administrator approval for some changes). And most importantly, the new system should be far more reliable–no more lost e-mails.

What’s up with these new @ferncreek.church e-mail addresses?

Without getting into the technical details, we didn’t want to change anything with our existing @fernreekumc.org e-mail system for the staff, which has been working well. So we acquired the new ferncreek.church domain, and built these new lists on a separate platform.

Will FCUMC staff e-mail addresses be changing?

No. All @ferncreekumc.org addresses for the FCUMC staff will remain unchanged.

Are subscriptions restricted on any of the lists?

Most lists for Sunday School classes and small groups are initially open, such that anyone can join. The official team lists require approval from that list’s owner or administrator. Over time, if spam from bogus subscribers becomes an issue, all lists might require approval to join.

Can I join a list with multiple e-mail addresses?

Yes! In fact, this is quite a common practice if you want to stay in touch at home and at work.

Who are these list “owners” or “administrators?” What do they do?

The list administrators, a.k.a. list owners, are the people who have ultimate control over all parameters of a mailing list. They are able to change any list configuration variable available through the administration web pages. They can also manage members (a.k.a. subscribers), as well as perform all the functions of a moderator (see below).

The church secretary and several members of the Communications Team, have administrator rights for all FCUMC mail lists. In some cases, team leaders also have administrator rights for their specific lists.

What about these list “moderators?” Who are they, and what is their role?

The list moderators have more limited permissions; they are not able to change any list configuration variable, but they are allowed to tend to pending requests, such as approving or rejecting subscription requests (for “closed” lists), and disposing of postings that the Mailman software decides needs manual review, based on the settings for the list.

Some FCUMC lists have volunteer moderators. For some smaller lists, there is currently no moderator; these functions will be handled by an administrator. This could always change as required in the future.

Who is allowed to post to these lists?

This varies by list. The church-wide broadcast list, of course, is restricted so that only a limited number of staff members and members of the Communications Team are allowed to post to it. But most lists will be open initially, allowing anyone to post to them.

Typically, once a list e-mail address is discovered by spammers, the administrator will have no choice but to tighten this down and allow only members of the list to post. We hope to avoid this for a while, but it’s often inevitable. Once a list is restricted to posts only from members, the administrators and moderators will have the ability to “whitelist” certain non-members, allowing them to post (e.g., many of the church staff are already whitelisted).

Can I see who is subscribed to a given list?

Again, this varies according to the settings on the specific list. Initially, for many lists, only the administrator can see the list of members. Over time, we are likely to open this up to allow members to view the membership list. If subscribers are allowed to see the subscribers list, this can be done from the "information page" for the list.

How is spam addressed?

Managing spam is one of the key functions of the administrators and moderators. Initially, most lists will be very “open” (e.g., allowing anyone to join, and anyone to post). But once spammers discover these lists, the administrators will likely need to take measures such as approving all new subscribers, and allowing only subscribers to post to the list.

Does Mailman save an archived copy of e-mails sent to the list?

By agreement with our hosting provider, we have disabled this feature for all lists. If there is a strong requirement, contact the Communications Team and we may be able to accommodate it.


Do you still have questions? Or any comments or suggestions on how to improve these e-mail lists? Leave a note below!

2 Comments:

  1. Sue,
    You are so welcome! Thank you for your email comments. They are very uplifting!
    Take care, stay in and stay safe!!!

  2. Thanks Kathy. You know what we want, just to be included at FCUMC. Love ya

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