Changes to GCI’s website hosting

This announcement from GCI IT Manager Bret Miller, is a reminder about the changes announced in December 2016 concerning GCI’s website hosting services being discontinued in mid-2017.

We currently provide website hosting and support for many GCI churches, camps and other ministries. We believe that a more efficient, consistent and secure way to maintain these sites is to have local entities work directly with a web hosting company. This avoids a middle layer of support that can sometimes delay service if Home Office staff is not available. Web hosting companies are well-equipped to upgrade, monitor and maintain security on the hosted sites in a consistent and cost-effective manner, without the necessity of technical direction from GCI.

Therefore, our central web hosting services will be discontinued by mid-2017. Please start now to evaluate the options available for your local website(s). Because 2017 will be a very busy year for the Home Office staff as we prepare for our Denominational Conference in August and the pending Home Office relocation, the sooner you move your site to a hosting service, the more likely we will be able to help you with that move.

The most common question we are receiving at the Home Office is whether we have a recommendation. We are recommending DreamHost “Happy Hosting” shared hosting for U.S. churches and camps because it’s a fairly simple process to apply for it, and the hosting itself is free for non-profits. The local church or camp will need a new domain name if you are using one of our domains (__.wcgweb.org, __.gcichurches.org, or __.gci.church). That currently runs $12.95 per year at DreamHost. Some of you already have your own. Registering it there simplifies the setup and renewal so that’s what we recommend though you can register it separately if you wish. Here’s how it works:

  1. Contact our legal office (legal.office@gci.org) to ask for our 501(c)(3) letter and a statement saying your church is covered by our group exemption. You’ll need both in PDF.
  2. Sign up with DreamHost for shared hosting and your domain name. Note that you can use the option to “do this later” if you already have a domain name. This will require a credit/debit card.
  3. Submit a support request to DreamHost asking for non-profit hosting and attach the two PDF documents to the request.
  4. Wait for them to approve it. At this point, they will also refund the cost of the hosting plan.

Once you have the free hosting, we’ll be happy to help you move the website, or move it for you, as our time permits.

We have been a DreamHost customer for many years and while they’ve had ups and downs, so have all the hosting companies we’ve dealt with. They have served us well, and that’s why they earned our recommendation. There are cheaper options out there if you don’t qualify as a U.S. nonprofit organization.

Note: DreamHost offers a managed WordPress service called DreamPress. Other website hosts also tend to offer similar services. We have NOT had any success moving a WordPress website hosted with GCI to any of these services. Therefore, we would strongly recommend moving it first to simple shared hosting and then if you want to pay for the upgraded service, let your website hosting company do the migration into their upgraded service. We do not believe the upgraded service is necessary for most church or camp websites.

As for the “template” we announced, that will be for WordPress and probably won’t be available until August or September at the earliest. For websites running on WordPress, it should be fairly easy to install the new “theme” as WordPress calls it and activate it to get the new look without much change to the content.