The Fellowship Hall, a Journey

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The Fellowship Hall, a Journey

Unread post by Rick »

Nearly twenty years ago, I created my first message board. 2003, as a subdomain of a little Christian website I once ran called Beckman Family Ministries. After a year and a half and 8,700 posts, the community grew into its own website,, where it would exist until 2008, garnering over 24,000 posts in its lifetime.

A lifetime that would see numerous style changes, countless forum rearrangements, numerous partnerships with other ministries whose forums we hosted, and so much more. One of my current best friends was a guy I got to know originally via that old community, and numerous other friendships were made too.

I'm not sure why exactly I lost interest in the Hall around 2008, and that I didn't keep a backup of its database is one of my single greatest regrets. I tried reopening the Hall in 2010 with a simpler forum selection, but after a handful of posts -- and my deconversion from Christianity -- I lost interest again. The domain name expired, was briefly for sale for a ridiculous price by the former registrar, and then disappeared from the web entirely.

That is, until, last winter. Riding a wave of joy as a result of some pretty major changes in my life, I decided to try recreating one of my most successful projects: The Fellowship Hall. Remarkably, the domain name was still available and with no markup to the price, so I jumped on it.

But phpBB, the software I had always used, was showing its age, and I struggled in getting back into the swing of things using its systems. I bounced between setting the Hall up using it, WordPress's message board addon bbPress (which turned out to be extremely feature limited versus phpBB, despite being far more modern), or some other solution. Things briefly were getting off the ground but my unfamiliarity with phpBB became too frustrating for me to keep up with. The fact that I once developed a few phpBB modifications made it all the more frustrating!

Still, I had to take the plunge and get this thing live again. Maybe it won't amount to anything. Maybe the web's too caught up in Facebook and Twitter to have conversations on sites like this anymore. Who knows? I sure don't.

If you're here, you're a part of this new experiment, and I am grateful for you.
Rick Beckman
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"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." — Horace Mann

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