Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

FREE WordPress theme for churches

Tim Bednar is offering a free theme for WordPress that makes building, customizing and maintaining a ministry, para-church, nonprofit, political or small business web sites as easy as cake.

Ashford, the free WordPress theme for church and charity websitesBased on his recent work on Greg Boyd’s new WordPress-driven site, Tim has made available his “Ashford” … a free WordPress theme is designed specifically for those who build and maintain church and/or charity web sites including:

  • Volunteers – people who want a ministry web site (e.g. youth group) but do not have an “official” church web site
  • Administrative staff – people who need to maintain a web site in addition to the thousand other things they need to get done
  • Solo pastors – men and women who need to be a jack-of-all-trades and do not have the time to fuss with a web site

Realizing that most WP themes are not really created for normal people who are responsible for building and maintaining web sites, Tim has created a neat-n-free theme that offers the following general functionality:

  • Administer InPlace makes it as simple as possible to build and maintain your site.
  • Theme Configurator gives you all the power without having to hack a single line of code.
  • Subthemes give you more than a choice between different color schemes.
  • Search Engine Friendly HTML optimizes your web site for the best rankings.

Along with those, fun and friendly features that help you ‘… avoid high maintenance church website design,’ Ashford provides these church specific features:

And for you geeks out there:

  • HTML markup validates as XHTML Strict
  • CSS uses a 16 column grid system based on Nathan Smith’s 960.gs
  • jQuery is used to abstract behaviors from the markup
  • jQuery Curvey Corners is used to make it easy to round corners (class="roundme")
  • Custom widgets come pre-loaded with theme
  • No plug-ins are required

So how do you get started? Here’s how I’d do it from scratch:

  1. Get an account with a host service that offers automatic installs for applications; WordPress specifically in this case. DreamHost a nice tool for this – though some of their shared server speeds ain’t so hot. Otherwise, download and install WordPress on your hosted site yourself.
  2. Download and activate the Ashford theme
  3. Choose your web site preferences
  4. Build every page with the help of InPlace Administration
  5. Customize your sidebar with widgets
  6. Add content including images and other media
  7. Visit Tim Bednar’s Ashford Theme blog page – often (or at least subscribe to the site’s RSS feed).

Bednar says it’ll take all of 9 minutes. I just IM’d him and told’m him he needed to re-factor his figures as it only took me 3, and that was because I had to upgrade to WordPress 2.6 on my testbed site!

Kidding aside, I complimented him on some really fine work as I know I’ll be experimenting with it them as part of a long put-off effort to update my now 4 year old article on using blogs as “Blogging: Web Publishing on the Cheap” and an overdue update of a more recent post entitled “10 ways WordPress 2.5 will help you manage your church blog.”


  1. Pingback: Web Sites of Interest » links for 2008-07-31

  2. I noticed it has the capability to retrieve Google Calendar information and display it on the front page. Is this built in or did you do that, Dean?

  3. Sounds very interesting. Has anyone done similar for drupal?

  4. I have recently created two free WordPress themes for churches to use. Neither of them look like blogs, but still feature the benefits of WordPress as their content management system. Please stop by http://www.organizedthemes.com and let me know what you think of them.