Gave up on upgrading the Gnome desktop environment, after it appeared to have broke the apache web server and associated components of WordPress. Had to strip out all of Gnome and all the components that appeared to be associated, and then rebuilt the server platform. After a few last glitches, it appears that all is running again. I will have to think about reinstalling any desktop environment.
Many thanks to ‘iceflatline’ (http://www.iceflatline.com/2011/11/how-to-install-apache-mysql-php-and-phpmyadmin-on-freebsd/) for his write-up on putting this all together.