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. Here is the report from the 16th June meeting. Comments made by those present are given in italics:
I have to apologise that for part of the time of this meeting I was not hearing voice. I therefore missed some of Celberon’s exuberance (he’s not quite the same in text as in voice).
As usual I will report on various aspects of our ministry. Do feel free to add comments, ask questions and make suggestions as we go along.
Beginning with finances, I can now give you some figures for the whole year as the accounts are now in order for the year 2012-13. We set out with a target of $4125 which was made up in this way:
Tier of $3540 plus 5% in case of increase giving $3717
Payment for our collaboration software of $24 a month giving $288
Provision for buying things for the sim $120
Our income is generated in PayPal and in world, giving us payments in both dollars and Lindens. This inevitably means that all our figures regarding donations are approximate as we have to convert between currencies. Bearing this in mind, we raised $3761 last year which was 91.2% of our target. We spent nothing on the sim at all, but did spend the $288 for our software and would have expected to pay $3540 for our tier, as there has been no increase. That would have required $3828 leaving us with a shortfall of $67 which is not bad at all. Fortunately, as I said last time, our tier has been returned to the non-profit rate which means our total expenditure this year has been $2058 leaving us a healthy surplus over the year.
Celberon began to celebrate at this point, having been very patient with all the details.
For those who like pictures, you might like to see a diagram of our giving over the year https://www.dropbox.com/sc/z0q3wjlrvblj93i/lrYVjXH1i0 You can see that the level of giving varied quite a lot in the different months though I would say that the general trend is upwards.
You might think that we could now relax totally and pay next year’s tier out of our surplus. However, I think if we cannot raise enough each year to cover our expenses we should be asking if this ministry is serving its purpose any more. The budget set for this year is therefore just enough to cover what we need for the year. In fact I have set it for 11 months as we receive our invoice in April and I would like to be able to pay it within the 30 day period allowed.
The budget is as follows:
Basecamp $20 a month for 11 months = $220 (We are now using a slightly cheaper version)
Churchwarden’s budget $10 a month for 11 months = $110
WordPress upgrade $30 per year
Total = $2130
10% for contingency bringing the total to $2343 for the 11 months from June 2013 to April 2014 inclusive.
The monthly target for fund raising should be $213 which is L$53250 using an exchange rate of 250 Lindens to the dollar which seems to be representative of recent average rates.
It’s interesting to note that the level of giving is significantly down this month, being only 10% of this very low target earlier today. We should still have the in-world donations at around double the percentage as the number of the day of the month, eg today the 16th we should have raised 32% of our monthly needs.
Able Shepherd has taken on the role of Treasurer and I am grateful to him for his work and for the pretty picture! I hope that he will soon be able to do a Treasurer’s report for the blog.
Celberon expressed his thanks to Able for the accounts. As Joyous said, Able was not with us for C&C as he was at his farewell event in the RL parish he is about to leave.
Czari Zenovka has agreed to be Secretary and Celberon Donardson is Vice Chair.
Ana confirmed that Celberon is taking his duties seriously and has started on the vice already!
Other changes are that Denise Difference is taking some time out from leading Sunday Compline. We are immensely grateful for her dedication and hope that one day she will feel able to return, perhaps not for every week but at least for some of the time. Currently Celberon Donardson is leading this service. It’s not at an ideal time for him. I do hope we can find someone else who also feels called to lead at that time. Do contact me if you think this is something you would like to do. You can find details of the requirements for Worship Leaders on our blog http://slangcath.wordpress.com/the-teams-2/worship-leaders/requirements-for-worship-leaders/
MimseyBorogove Susanowa is now going to help with leading the Bible Study one Sunday a month. I hope to be able to return to leading now and again also.
Joyous confirmed that Mimsey will be leading on the fourth Sunday of the month, with her first session being on 23rd June.
Another change which is further in the future is that Bishop Christopher, under whose authority we work, will retire in September. We are now actively seeking episcopal oversight from another bishop.
As I said last time, Ana has taken on the task of Acting Churchwarden. She has been very busy around the sim generally tidying up as well as making obvious changes. We continue to look at the signage outside the cathedral, and eventually all around the sim. Recent changes mean that the prayer ministry team board has moved so that it’s near the votive candles. There is likely to be a redesign of the prayer request box at some time. The suggestions and volunteer boxes are now on the right of the main cathedral door as you come out. They are going to be redesigned soon also. We have a simplified system for people to join the group, using local chat. I have updated all the notices outside the Cathedral. They are likely to be contained in a single notecard at some point. The notecard delivered when people arrive at the Cathedral may also change a little in time.
Freezing grinned when he heard how many tasks were to be added to Ana’s to do list, while Ana slowly sank below the surface of her pond. However, as a member of the Technical Team, Freezing is likely to get involved as well rather than standing on the sidelines grinning.
I do encourage you to explore regularly to see what is changing. There are steps down from behind the Parish House and also from the south east of the Cathedral down to the chapel area. If you head down to the chapel you will now find you have to take a very long walk down as Ana has lowered the land in that area allowing the water to be that which is under the whole sim, very attractive to look at. You will notice that the Meditation Garden is much easier to see and access now. I do recommend spending some time there as it’s very pleasant and peaceful.
In the process of remodelling the sim, we have acquired some impressive cliffs. Ana would be interested to hear your view on the two possible colours for these. If you either walk on to the bridge behind me, or move your camera there, you should see that the cliffs to the west of the bridge are in tones of grey while those to the east have more of a brown colouring to them. Take a look and see which you prefer.
Giertrud expressed a preference for purple cliffs, being representative of mountain’s majesty, although we were only offered a choice of grey or brown (she was feeling silly). Freezing and Heather preferred the darker colour but Kagome was too tired to care. Freezing considers the darker rock to look better with the grass. Light grass would suggest lighter rock. As Giertrud pointed out: ‘Aren’t rocks usually heavy not light?’ Ana was grateful to get the feedback though didn’t seem inclined to add purple to the colour choices.
As I mentioned briefly last time, new paths are likely to be put in place soon, removing quite a lot of the paving around the Cathedral and perhaps making navigation easier for visitors.
At this point, one of our rabbits, Lenny, decided to try scuba diving in Ana’s pond, causing a distraction to Giertrud at least.
We hope to have a tour of Epiphany Island created, with paths and signs making that much better to follow.
The added advantage, as Freezing pointed out, is that the sim would look less like a parking lot.
The current benches are very full of scripts which is not ideal. We would like to replace them with simpler ones. First we would like some idea of where our community would like the benches to be. Ana has made a map to help us visualise the sim and point out where you like to spend time.
Unfortunately plans went awry as there was no map to see and discuss. Freezing treated Ana to a squint. We were requested to give Ana a five minute break to get organised. Giertrud didn’t need the map as she requested that the benches be in the sky.
We are considering whether those in the European timezone might like an opportunity to use the fishing dock on the island occasionally as a social event. We used to have a Friday social for this time but it didn’t really develop and was stopped. We need to turn scripts on in order to allow fishing so would need to do it at specific times. Would this be something that would interest people? It’s worth pointing out that it’s possible to buy bait from the vendor and 20% of the payment goes to our funds – hopefully a fun way of fundraising.
There was some interest in this as a possibility but not everyone thought they would have time to go fishing. Freezing became a little distracted by watching Celberon stab himself repeatedly in the eye with a drinking straw. Celberon burst into a rendition of ‘O Happy Day’ but I’m not sure that the two events were connected (It seems unlikely that anyone can be happy about poking themselves in the eye even if the Bible tells us to rejoice in all circumstances.)
Whatever the reason for his outburst, it gave Ana more time to retrieve her map. Nine minutes into the five minutes requested, the map was ready. Freezing thought it looked very good, good enough to be a cake. Then he saw the pins on it.
Freezing Sorbet: “So, the red pins indicate the location of enemy forces….”
But Ana put him right. Ana Stubbs: Basically, the pins on the model show the current location of benches. We’d like to know if there are any favourite spots on the sim where you’d like a bench to be put.
A bench by the water’s edge near the Meditation Garden was suggested. Ana pointed out that it is already there.
Freezing noted that the dock area is pretty sparse on seating, but he wasn’t sure if people make much use of that area. He also suggested rethinking the seating where C&C is held. It was suggested that we could use the gazebo by the labyrinth as a seating area. There is already a bench there but it seems to be better to meet closer to the cathedral. (Lenny the bunny continued to be distracting at this time.)
Ana has left the cake, err map, out by the pool in the courtyard so that people can take a look and make suggestions for positions of benches. She is happy to hear any ideas you may have.
I have added some pages to the blog and updated it with the new roles I have announced. We have agreed the budget that includes upgrading the blog. I hope that will happen soon. Currently people from 148 countries have visited our blog in the last 15 months or so. Most come from the USA, which is about 2.5 times the number of visits as from the UK, Australia and Canada provide about a quarter as many visitors as from the UK, followed by The Netherlands, The Philippines and Germany.
I added that obviously many who visit our blog are not specifically looking for us or even for a Christian blog of any sort. As Ana pointed out:’ I’m going to guess that the person searching for “abbey of st. wulfstan, worcester” wasn’t looking for us.’ The blog is a way for people to access us who wouldn’t get Christian input in other ways.
Last time we looked at some of the suggestions for improvement from within the survey. We looked at suggestions for services and were just moving on to Other Activities, beginning with Discipleship. Items with an asterisk in front were suggested in the previous survey also. Do feel free to comment on any of them.
(*) Resources and depth to help people grow spiritually.
Leo suggested an Alpha course which had also been mentioned last time. He also suggested a theological seminary in SL (he obviously has big ideas!). We have Able and ZoeRose who have experience of leading Alpha in RL. There was a suggestion that we might want more ordained people to help with the course. As Leo pointed out most leaders of churches in SL are lay people. I explained that it’s not so much that there are few ordained people in SL as it is that they enjoy being ministered to rather than ministering in another place. Leo also suggested partnering with other churches, making a United Churches in SL. (We would like to work with other churches of course if possible.)
We talked about having special studies on Epiphany. This is something that Celberon would like. We need to recognise there is a mixture of needs as people are at different points on their faith journey. There is always the problem of what time to run something and who will do the work. I had already brought to the attention of the Leadership Team the idea of a seasonal approach to doing things in church, maybe concentrating on seekers for one season, those wishing to develop their faith in another and so on. We use Lent courses and try to find one online that everyone can access.
Sense of connection to the wider Church history
I could offer a study on the Creed as I did this for one of my assignments on my theology degree course. This would connect with our history.
I presumed that this meant Sunday School as in the USA where it’s for all ages rather than in the UK where it’s usually just for children. Kagome confirmed that Sunday school is for children and adults in the states. She went on to explain further: Adults do studies like at the episcopal church I attend, they are studying a book by N.T. Wright, I think on the book of Colossians.
We talked about inviting people to Epiphany for a dance or a social, having Christian musicians playing and bringing non-Christians to hear them. Possibly people attending other functions would then return.
Take the opportunity to offer “in-your-face” evangelism to those whom Christ is stirring up to ask questions. The beauty of Epiphany is its potential for anonymity: you can wander in and ask questions without your friends knowing that you are exploring Christianity.
Ana suggested an appropriate response to this: we walk up to them and yell ARE YOU SAVED?
Perhaps TimeSurfer is not yet used to Ana’s sense of humour as he questioned if we really would do this.
Leo pointed out that some people might find Ana’s suggested approach offensive, which was exactly the point she was making. As she said: Sorry, sometimes my sarcasm font doesn’t come across.
Leo suggested: how about placing the library above ground..rather than placing it bellow the cellar. i find it hard to access it..i find the crypt spooky
There is nothing around the sim which mentions resources. Possibly welcomers may not be very comfortable with evangelism but they could point people to resources.
Ana: we could have something in the cathedral. We were thinking of having a bookcase, weren’t we.
We are not sure how many people visit the sim as Cady has the visitor logs, something Ana will sort out with her. Leo noted that people often seem to pop up on the sim when he is logged on. We could advertise a Question and Answer session on Christianity; grill a vicar. A notice could be put on the easel outside the cathedral where people land.
Maybe consider “missions” to some of the Opensim grids?
- The sim could be more colorful.
KagomeShuko Krogstad: wizard of oz? will we all need to wear silver (Book) or ruby red (movie) shoes?
The paths should all be yellow like the yellow brick road.
- There aren’t any toilets on the sim!
- Explore interdenominational initiatives to increase SIM occupancy
- Trust in God
- Have faith.
Support of Members
- (*) Work on inviting newcomers and making them welcome
- (*) Designated greeters (x3)
There was quite a long discussion on how our welcomers might be better recognised. Uniforms was one suggestion, which Hage liked the idea of.
Ana pointed out a practical issue with this: I can’t imagine getting a uniform on a hippo, for example.
Hage seemed sure that Ana could create hippo uniforms.
Freezing added this to the construction of the Hippo latrine on the to do list.
Freezing’s suggestion: Stickers “Hello, my name is Dave”
Hage suggested a banner that is easy to memorize. A fishtail on a white background as the fish is a biblical symbol.
A big balloon over the heads of welcomers was suggested. Ana muttered something about a use for all that hot air.
Freezing: We’ve hit gold, boys! Get the shovels!
Encouraged, Ana proceeded to add candles to the map-cake. Freezing then became very excited, moreso than Celberon in his exuberant moods.
Freezing: Oh! OH! Can I blow them out!!! We are so going to have to keep this cake for special occasions.
On this exciting note Conversation & Cake came to an end. Those who had survived it in its entirety took their leave.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor