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.CHURCH?

Domains ending in .church are coming soon

David Topping, DSC Communications

For most everyone reading this article, there’s a good chance that your local church has a website with an address ending in “.org” or “.com” (or perhaps “.net” if all the applicable .org and .com names were taken). Starting in September 2014, another much more specific domain name option will be available to churches, with the addition of the new “.church” generic top-level domain (gTLD). What will this mean to churches? Will there be a “land rush” to grab the good names before they’re taken, or is this just another attempt to make money for the domain-name providers?

Names ending in .church are currently in a “sunrise” period (July 8, 2014 to September 6, 2014) during which holders of active trademarks registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) have priority access to register .church domains. However, it’s unlikely that local churches meet those qualifications, so the next option is to await a five-phase “priority pre-registration” period from September 10-16. The domain-registration prices during that period range from over $12,000 to a little under $200, so most will probably wait until unrestricted registration of .church names opens on Wednesday, September 17, at which point the annual price will drop to about $40.

But does a church need a .church in addition to their .org, .com, or .net? Probably not, but considerations supporting the acquisition of a .church name might include things like brand protection (preventing someone else from impersonating your church), getting a better name (“newlifecommunity.church” instead of “newlifecommunitychurch.com”), or launching a second website for visitors. The traditional top-level domains (.org, etc.) typically cost just a little over $10/year to maintain, so owning a .church name is almost four times as much.

There are some domain-name registrars (such as GoDaddy, a company based in Scottsdale, Arizona—see the link below) that are offering preregistration of .church names, but they don’t guarantee that you’ll eventually get the name you request—just that they will submit the request for you on September 17, the day of the open “land grab” for .church names.

For churches currently without their own domain names, or for those considering acquiring a .church, a point of possible confusion would be email addresses based on those names, as most church members would likely be confused when presented with an email address such as “” rather than an address ending in .org, .com, or .net. Time will tell if these new names will be adopted and used by churches, or if they’ll perhaps be treated more like the seldom-used “.biz” names.

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