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Top online stories of 2006 show range of emotions, events in Churches of Christ

You’ve clicked and scrolled, read and voted. And we’ve kept track. The top Web-read stories of the year at www.christianchronicle.org may surprise you. The events that shaped this year for Churches of Christ were both historic and tragic. One was anticipated and planned for years in advance, another so unexpected that the shock of it captured the world’s attention for nearly a month. And along the way you laughed – at yourself.
We have recorded more than 9 million Web hits in 2006, with 1.6 million-plus of those representing stories, reviews, editorials or columns being read.
Which ones rose to the top, and why were they so compelling?
Without further ado, the most-read online stories of 2006:
10. Longtime member shot and killed outside Texas church: When a 43-year-old member was gunned down in September outside the Greenville Avenue church in Dallas as worship began, many became concerned about personal safety and domestic dispute issues. The story of Alveda Edwards’ murder and her husband’s arrest captured local headlines for several days.
9. Kentucky church members killed in crash of Comair Flight 5191: Clark and Bobbie Benton of the Fort Logan church in Stanford, Ky. were on their way to Aruba for a romantic getaway when their plane went down shortly after takeoff. The August story captivated Christians from across the country, as it connected the irony of a happy couple celebrating their marriage with the tragedy of a fatal plane crash.
8. Unity discussion takes center stage at Freed-Hardeman:Unlike an earlier event in 2006, the focus of October’s forum featured speakers both for and against closer ties between a cappella Churches of Christ and instrumental Christian churches. No matter the personal opinion, it was represented in some form through this story and at this discussion.
7. The lighter side of our church life:”You might be a member of the Church of Christ if …” In February you laughed along with thousands of others at Bobby Ross Jr.’s Inside Story column. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it sounds best when accompanied by No. 728b in your songbook.
6. Legendary golfer Byron Nelson, a faithful church member, dies at 94: This beloved church member — as well known for his stroke as his generosity — drew an outpouring of love and good will when he died in September.
5. Winkler pleads not guilty in husband’s slaying, says she’ll seek bond: A minister is found shot to death, his family is missing, his wife is arrested in another state, then later released on bond. Talk show hosts go into a frenzy, speculation abounds, motives clash. Three of the year’s top 10 stories revolved around Matthew Winkler’s death in March and the subsequent events.
4. Ministers exchange Bibles at convention: When two prominent ministers — one from an a cappella Church of Christ and another from an instrumental Christian church — exchanged Bibles at the close of the North American Christian Convention in Louisville, Ky., readers wanted to know all the details.
3. Hundreds gather for funeral of slain Tennessee minister: On a day when the nation was straining for a glimpse of the Winklers’ three daughters and wondering how the Fourth Street church in Selmer, Tenn. was holding up, interest in this story was quite high.
2. Honduras clinic partners with Virginia med school: When a college of medicine launched a program to train future generations of doctors to treat patients in Third World countries, many were curious about the full story.
1. Winkler’s funeral set; wife awaits arraignment: The same day that Mary Winkler was booked into the McNairy County Jail for his murder, her slain husband’s funeral was scheduled by his parents at the church where he had ministered. The most-read story of the year by far, this topic generated more editorials, letters to the editor and stories than any other topic in 2006.
In contrast, here are the 10 most voted stories of 2006
1.Ministers exchange Bibles at convention – (228 votes)
2. The lighter side of our church life – (167 votes)
3. Winkler’s funeral set; wife awaits arraignment – (164 votes)
4. Fighting untrue characterizations: a Christian response to Nancy Grace – (149 votes)
5. Dialogue: A conversation with Alan Highers – (134 votes)
6. Legendary golfer Byron Nelson, a faithful church member, dies at 94 – (130 votes)
7. Unity discussion takes center stage at Freed-Hardeman – (123 votes)
8. Hundreds gather for funeral of slain Tennessee minister – (107 votes)
9. Winkler pleads not guilty in husband’s slaying, says she’ll seek bond – (93 votes)
10. Winkler posts bond, released from jail pending trial – (87 votes)
And now for the 10 most voted polls of 2006
1. Do you support fellowship between a cappella Churches of Christ and instrumental Christian Churches? – (2701 votes)
2. What is your position on instrumental music in worship? – (1462 votes)
3. How often do you attend worship services? – (1069 votes)
4. How interested are you in 2006 talks between churches of Christ & instrumental Christian Churches? – (860 votes)
5. What does your church do on Sunday nights? – (665 votes)
6. In which decade were you born? – (640 votes)
7. How interested are you in developments in the Winkler case? – (629 votes)
8. Will you see “The Da Vinci Code” after its release? – (580 votes)
9. Summertime always brings weddings … and anniversaries. How long have you been married? – (543 votes)
10. How often do you eat out on Sundays? – (530 votes)
What do you think of this summary, and of the stories read the most online in 2006? E-mail [email protected] to share your thoughts.
Dec. 12, 2006

Filed under: Staff Reports Top Stories

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