There is much to report on this week, so apologies for a long post! I will share with you both a synopsis of the fascinating discussions being carried on in the “Being Christian in SL” discussion group, and a report from the Epiphany Leadership Team meeting that was held this past weekend.
“Being Christian in SL”
The “Being Christian in SL” discussion group continues to go strong, with many folks stopping by on Saturday afternoons (it starts at 11am SLT, and tends to go on for some time after that!). A wide range of topics are discussed related to this theme.
This past Saturday, there was an interesting conversation related to how we express our Christian identity in SL, and whether it differs from how we do so in RL. Most of those present shared that they bring their real personalities with them into the virtual world, and that religion plays a similar role in their lives in both worlds. One member shared a lovely story of how she stopped in one afternoon, and encountered an opportunity to pray with two of her SL friends at the cathedral, and how she was touched by that.
When asked how they bring their Christianity to those they encounter in SL, some stated that they tend to stick to “Christian” areas of SL. That raised the interesting question of the value of staying within your own community, and perhaps the danger of leading an insular existence and missing opportunities to witness to others (either by word or deed) the effect that their relationship to Jesus has on their lives.
The topic of sin was also brought up. Sin in SL is often equated with sexual sin, but the other temptations of SL were discussed, mainly that of neglecting RL responsibilities, which some shared as a real issue for them at times. Also addressed was the desire for an organized way for us to come together and pray for the needs of those within the community.
If any of these topics resonate with you, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below, and/or to join the group on Saturdays to continue these wonderful discussions!
Leadership Team update
The Epiphany Leadership Team met this past Saturday, to review current issues and to make plans for the future. Interestingly enough, many of the topics on the agenda were also matters that came up in the discussion group.
Epiphany Code of Conduct
The Leadership Team has been considering the need to establish a code of conduct for visitors to Epiphany. The hope is that by spelling out what our expectations are regarding behavior here, it will help prevent misunderstandings and needless conflict on either side. Also, we have been approached by a member of another Christian group in SL, who inquired about using our worship facilities for their group, until they were able to put up a church building of their own. In order to respond to both of these issues, the Team has put together the following Code of Conduct regarding the use of our facilities:
“All are welcome, regardless of creed or affiliation, to use any of our facilities for private prayer and meditation. However, formal services of any nature MUST be approved by the Leadership Team. Requests for use of these facilities will be reviewed, and approved using criteria that we have established (available upon request). [Briefly stated, these criteria have to do with determining that these are legitimate religious groups, and with scheduling concerns.]
Any requests for use of our facilities for ceremonies of a sacramental nature (such as weddings, baptisms and Eucharistic celebrations) will NOT be considered at this time.
Activity taking place within our worship spaces must be respectful of the sanctity that we accord these spaces. Anyone who violates this directive will be given a warning to desist in such behavior. Any further activity may result in being banned from this region.”
The need for a volunteer coordinator was raised, to coordinate the organization, scheduling and training of community members who wish to serve in this capacity. Hildeguard Psaltery agreed to take on this role. She will consult with Mark on how to establish training guidelines and protocols, and will communicate with the community when these are in place.
Community Bulletin Board
The idea has been put forward by the community to have a group bulletin board, that group members can use to communicate with one another. This could be used to promote events, to share needs that group members may have, to help orient newcomers to SL, as well as other things that we haven’t thought of yet! I have agreed to set up this board, and I will accept and review submissions for postings.
Anglican Clergy in SL
Hilde suggested that it would be helpful to establish a sub-group within Anglicans in SL for real-life clergy members. This group would consist of those SL clergy who wish to participate, and can substantiate to the Leadership Team that they hold RL clerical credentials. This will help differentiate those RL clergy members from visitors who may be role-playing as clergy, as well as give those members of the community the opportunity to meet and discuss how they can offer their unique gifts in service to our wider community.
During the discussion group conversation, the desire was expressed that a method be developed for members of our community to share their prayer requests with others. This may take the form of a prayer list and/or organized prayer groups. I proposed to the Leadership Group that this may be a task that could be charged to Hilde, who would work with me, and with the proposed clergy group, to explore how we could best implement this concept.
So as you can see, we have much in store for the community! As always, we invite your input and suggestions. And thanks to all for giving me the opportunity to share in this fabulous ministry adventure!