The community met for Conversation and Cake on Sunday 9 December. Conversation & Cake is a monthly meeting on Epiphany Island when I share what has been happening in our ministry and listen to views and ideas from members of our community. Below you can read what I conveyed to those present and the responses/discussions in italic. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion by adding your comments. We like to hear from members of our community.
This Conversation and Cake is rather late in happening. November passed in something of a haze due to my father’s death. I found myself doing just what absolutely had to be done, and much of that was at the last minute. Hopefully things will be better in future months.
Beginning with finances, we are not doing as well as we would hope to do but are not too far from our targets. I recognise that this is a time when people are spending a lot on gifts and so on, which is inevitably going to impact on giving to our ministry. By the end of November we had raised 43% of our annual goal, 7% short of where we should have been after six months of donations. As we only raised 69% of the November goal, Cady has increased the monthly target which is now L$100416. When I looked before the noon service we had raised L$3064, 3% of our needs for the month of December. So many churches in SL have had to close, merge or move to smaller pieces of land. We are really fortunate to be able to keep going as we are despite the recession hitting many people. Our continued survival is due to your generosity, so thank you.
I mentioned last time that it would be good to have another leader of the German Evening Prayer service. Since that time, Heatherly Addens has volunteered and been approved as a worship leader to work alongside Wave Rodenberger in leading on Wednesdays. Once I have Heatherly’s biography I will put it on the blog. This news was met with enthusiasm. Unfortunately at the moment hridaya is unable to take Tuesday and Thursday compline as she is recovering from ill health.
We have had no further offerings of social events where we can gather as a group. Hopefully that may happen in the New Year. Currently we are meeting at the various Posada venues. We have hosts for every day, some hosting for the first time this year and some who are old hands at hosting. It’s been very interesting to see how each person has welcomed Mary and Joseph. Several of us have attended the handover of the figures from one host to the other. This has led on occasion to a slightly late start to Evening Prayer but I think that’s ok. Today at 5pm Eve Compton is hosting a concert and skating. The Posada continues until 24th when Mary and Joseph return to our stable which will be set up in the Peace Garden. Cady is going to make a Posada memory book for both this year and last combined.
At the last C&C we were still waiting to hear if we had won an award in the Christian New Media Awards. I finally contacted the organisers, having heard nothing, and found that we had not won or come second. At this point Freezing burst into tears and we had to consider if we need towels available at C&C. Last time all the tissues ended up in Ana’s pool. We received this from Sean Skinner (Social Media & Team Coordinator of the Premier Media Group): “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your entry and congratulate you on making in to the stage you did in the awards. We were truly impressed and inspired as a team by the presence you have in Second Life and by your continuing ministry - we wish you all the best in it, and hope you will enter again next year.” I have no idea who entered us for the award in the first place but we could always try again as Sean suggests. Charlie considered that it might have been an angel. Freezing has added the case to his unsolved casebook.
We continue to be visited by people who are studying online church. I have also had an email from a person involved with Fresh Expressions in Canada who came across us in Phyllis Tickle’s latest book Emergence Christianity – you can read an excerpt here http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5kHPH2Ii21UC&lpg=PP1&ots=dR2dhKbLbt&dq=phyllis+tickle+emergence&pg=PT13&redir_esc=y
Cady told us that Phyllis had contacted her about our ministry some time ago. I’ve answered some of this person’s questions and hope they may join SL and find out more by belonging to our group. I think it’s exciting to link up with others worldwide who are interested in doing church differently.
We had two ideas from the community last time. Harper suggested a prayer rail to be added near the votive candles in the Cathedral. During discussion we all thought it might be nice to have candles in their current place and by the north door chapel. Cady was hoping to have a go at designing something that would suit. I’m not sure how that has gone. Cady has been working on ideas and will install them sometime soon so we can take a look. She will put candles in the chapel also. Caelin agreed that the votive candles are something she likes to see and use and would like more of.
Ana suggested a community wall showing pictures of our members. We were not sure where it would go and just what form it would take. Czari had suggested ideas should be forwarded to the Leadership Team but none has arrived. Ana considered having a go at a possible format but has struggled. Freezing has kindly agreed to help Ana. Once again, I’m not sure where we have reached with that one. The fence around the pool in the corner of the Cathedral courtyard was suggested as a possible position for the wall, as long as it didn’t block the view. Alternatively in the Parish House. The Peace Garden would become cluttered if it was there. Freezing and Ana will work on this together.
Freezing suggested that we look at the blog and give it some sort of new design. He offered to look at it and see what he could come up with. He has sent me a link to a possible new design. Do take a look and see what you think. http://wp.me/2SwMI There was an extensive discussion about Freezing’s ideas. The colours are nice but the layout looks plain. The more modern header met with approval although it was difficult to tell that it is SL. Freezing pointed out the limitations of WordPress without CSS editing, something that can be paid for. White not a great colour, a bit eyeball-burning. There is a lot of white space in the template. The grey text is a problem for many people to read. Black would probably be better. Also, the text should not be too thin. Possibly larger also. CSS editing would allow changes to be made in whatever way we want. Ana and Freezing will consider this further and come back with more ideas.
Attention turned to the Week’s services page. Freezing had been changing it and was considering adding Google Calendar support for events. Ana agreed with the idea of the Google Calendar but not the format. She suggested a feed on the front page. It would not be necessary to list Morning Prayer seven times; this makes it difficult to tell what isn’t Morning or Evening Prayer. Ana questioned why we need to manually update the signs for coming services in the chapel and outside the cathedral when information can be fed into SL via the web. That would be the advantage of a centralised calendar. The signs can be updated from the web but Cady was not aware whether they could be linked to a Google Calendar; it hadn’t been possible previously. A central calendar could be updated by the person who does the schedule. Currently the signs can be very much out of date if people forget to update them. Freezing noted that the WordPress side of things is limited by what they Google embedded plugin allows.
A problem with the current blog is that there is no indication that it has been updated. No date stamps. Joyous noted that the current page gives more information about events like the Friday socials and the Bible study.
Appreciation was expressed for the talents available in our community and for Ana and Freezing in particular.
Another suggestion is that we rerun part of the extensive survey we did nearly four years ago. Ana has made the suggestion and said she would analyse the results. She suggests we look at the marks of a healthy church and at the demographics. Timing wise, she suggests Lent 2013 which would be four years on from the last survey. We have changed a lot since then so this could be very helpful to revisit.
It might also be helpful to check that we have picked up all the suggestions from the past if they are still relevant. That might be something members of the community would like to consider.
If you want to look at the previous demographics, they are here http://slangcath.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/1013/
Results concerning the marks of healthy churches are here
Ideas that came out of the various discussions are here
Charlie expressed the hope that the survey could be simpler. He would like to see it more focused on our ministry in SL rather than covering the range of Anglicanism. Able wondered if the survey was complicated or the subsequent analysis. Joyous wondered if in SL a healthy church is defined by old people or young. Ana considered the original survey to be simple but wordy. It is still available if anyone wants to see it. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=g5DR38YRZWd_2bxSq5Smg7hQ_3d_3d Most of the survey was multiple choice with the final page for free text. Multiple choice surveys are very difficult to design and can become directive. Even if people ask for things in the free text area that we can’t offer, that is still useful information. Able considered some of the results to be inconclusive and wondered why the question would be asked in that case. We also had wide ranging discussions when we did the last survey, in world over a period of weeks. Freezing wondered how we spread the word about the survey. Last time the events in world were extensively advertised to the community and it was on the blog also.
Regarding Christmas services, we will be having a carol service on 23rd at noon SLT. Gareth will be leading that and will need volunteers to do various readings. Do contact him if you can help out – it’s best to use a notecard as his IMs can get capped. On 24th the Posada will come back to Epiphany at 2pm. On Christmas Day we will have a special service instead of Evening Prayer in the Cathedral at noon SLT. We usually have a Covenant Service combined with an Examen around New Year. It’s a service of reflection on the year past and rededication of ourselves to serve God in the year to come. I am not sure what might be the best day to have this service. It could be on Sunday 30th at noon or as a special service on New Year’s Day at 2pm SLT. Any thoughts? Sunday was thought to be the better day to hold this. More people will attend. In the US people will be watching football on New Year’s Day. In the future we will need to move the service to the Sunday after New Year’s Day probably.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor