Despite the season's first significant snowfall and very difficult driving conditions, about 60 people gathered on the evening of November 15 to hear from James Kelly, founder of FaithTech. His talk "Bridging the Gap Between Faith and Technology" was held at Voices.com, one of London's companies on this year's Deloitte Canadian Technology Fast 50 list.
FaithTech is a growing movement of Christians interested in all things faith and technology. Founded in nearby Waterloo, Canada, they now also have chapters in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, and Silicon Valley.
Their vision is to become a global hub for FaithTech conversations, integrations, and innovations. James shared a real story to illustrate what this means. One of their early events was a suicide prevention hackathon. 8,000 people search Google every month asking how to kill themselves. The winner built a website, which at the time had just three words on it - "You're not alone." howtokillyourself.org/ has since evolved significantly to include resources for anyone who lands on it and includes local contacts.
His story about this website however, went a big step further. One of the developers working on the project was out for a coffee with a friend one day, describing some of the design elements of the project she was working on, without naming it. Her friend was immediately very deeply moved and asked whether it was howtokillyourself.org. She answered yes, and asked in return why and how she knew. Her friend tearfully explained that only the night before, she had landed there after searching for ways to end her life.
FaithTech accepts that technology has unalterably changed us and our culture. They also realize that many tech workers wonder what their place in the church is, and how to exercise their faith practically. Especially when many of those in the church, including pastors, seem so hesitant about embracing the change. James says forcefully that "we must stop thinking about what is not good [with change from technology] and instead recognize the enormous opportunity we have to impact the world."
Those in attendance were from all walks of life, most motivated change agents from the tech and faith communities.
James implored us to rid ourselves of any barriers in the way of working together to ask what problem can we solve creatively with the right people building the right thing. I sense many more conversations to come!
Dennis Ensing, Chief Executive Officer of the South Western Ontario Angel Group (swoangel.com)