In the process of the survey we were given many good ideas about what members of our community would like to see being offered in addition to what was offered at the time, and how we could improve what we offered. Below is the list of ideas and each has a note of where we have responded (in italics), if we have done so. Obviously this survey was conducted two years ago and so not everything would be exactly the same as if we were to ask the questions today. If you have ideas which you would like us to consider, do let us know. We are always pleased to hear from you.
SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVICES
- For Anglicans, liturgy arguably reflects doctrine. If the Cathedral is ‘branded’ as being the Anglican Cathedral in SL, then in my view it has an onus to be faithful to the liturgical tradition.
All our liturgies are either published Anglican liturgies or follow the format of a Service of the Word, which is acceptable in Anglican churches.
- Use of agreed upon forms of service
Any worship leader must agree the format of services used with the Leadership Team.
- Have a default service that someone can step in and lead if leader doesn’t come
- More services
Since this survey was undertaken we have increased the number of regular services offered significantly.
- More variety across the Anglican tradition-spectrum
We offer a wide variety of special services at points in the Church year, particularly in Holy Week.
- Use chapel more
The chapel is used twice on most days for the daily offices.
- Healing service – with laying on of hands
Our first healing service was held in Lent 2011.
- Foot washing
- Ashes on forehead
Ashing has occurred on Ash Wednesday 2010 and 2011
- Service of Repentance/lament
- Affirmation and recognition of calling
The Leadership Team and others ministering on Epiphany Island have been commissioned for service in the Cathedral.
- Altar call – kneeling at the communion rail and being blessed
This has happened on one occasion, in an impromptu fashion.
- Memorial services where the community comes together to come to support someone facing bereavement, recently bereaved or approaching the anniversary of bereavement.
We have had a special All Souls service. Memorial services have also been held both on Epiphany and elsewhere. We also have a Remembrance/Veterans Day service.
- Corporate renewal of baptismal vows.
- Daily prayer
This now takes place twice a day, three times in Holy Week 2011.
- Outdoor service once a year
We use the Peace Garden for the service when the Posada returns to Epiphany each year, for a service on our Founders’ Day 2011, and incorporate the Peace Garden into Palm Sunday services and Easter Day services.
- Mass on the Grass
- Café Church – once a month have church around tables and chairs
- Stations of the Cross
This takes place on Good Friday.
Several of the services used are from Celtic sources or include prayers of a Celtic nature.
- Blue Christmas (for those who have lost someone during the year)
- AIDS service
- When there is a big event in world (disaster, etc) hold service around it
We have had a special service to remember 9/11. Nothing for a recent disaster so far.
- Bring a Friend Sunday
- Music in services
We are currently investigating copyright issues to allow us to do this.
On the advice of our bishops, we do not offer communion in world.
- Shake hands for peace
- Touch each other – eg group hug
- Do more with visual in cathedral –pictures, videos, banners
We have used videos during worship, pictures on occasions and banners for decoration.
- More congregational participation: leading intercessions, doing readings
Members of the congregation have done readings and occasionally intercessions. It would be good to develop this further.
- Guest preachers
Helene has been guest preacher at another church and we had a guest preacher in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010.
- Bell to be rung
Bells have been installed in the Cathedral and can be rung at service times. Unfortunately this wouldn’t work as it might have done in the past in RL, to summon people from their homes in time for the service! We do send out notices and IMs before services as a reminder to community members.
- It would be good to have music playing when people arrive
We are working on this.
- Have a service somewhere else, with owner’s permission
- The sermons can also be delivered to reflect the priesthood of all believers and the gifts of the spirit.
- Have sermons in text, awareness of members with hearing problems
For many services the whole of the wording is in text and voice, including the sermon.
- More languages and/or translators
- Keep services relatively uniform so people get used to them
Helene uses a standard format of services on most occasions, though the prayers within the service may vary. Gareth uses a small number of different services with which people soon become familiar.
- Use same response if applicable – makes copy/paste easier
This is something which is borne in mind when writing/adapting most services.
- Keep time zones in account in scheduling worship and in wording of worship
We continue to examine what time zones we can reach with our services and hope to offer more services at times for different countries as leaders become available. In general all references to time of day are removed from services.
- Diagram to help new people in copying and pasting
Verbal instructions are given at the beginning of services.
- Alpha Course in the Cathedral’s cafe.
This is under consideration as are other courses.
- Other nurture courses
- Maybe offer inquirers/seekers classes.
- Workshops on things such as Centering Prayer, praying the Labyrinth.
Our labyrinth includes some guidance in notecards.
- More study or discussion opportunities
We hope to provide another study group in from July 2011 and are looking at the feasibility of restarting the discussion group.
- More small group activity like Bible studies where people can get to know one another
- Guest lectures
- Spiritual direction could be provided
- Bible study in the evening
- Saturday discussions
- Notecards should perhaps be made available on topical issues and what the Church’s position is on them – issues such as human trafficking, human sexuality, fair trade, war, pornography, interfaith relations etc.
- These notecards / position papers should also cover SL issues such as Gorean practice, BDSM, issues of image and self expression, ethics. As a faith community we should not be silent about these things!
- There could be a program of exploring Spirituality offered, such as:
a) Praying through the Lord’s prayer
b) Franciscan spirituality
c) Rule of life and St Benedict
d) Lectio Divina
e) Conversational prayer
f) Spirituality in art and music
- The names of people offering prayer ministry at the Cathedral should be on the board outside church AND there should be markers outside the Cathedral that (if members of the prayer ministry team are willing) flag up whether that person is online or offline, and can be contacted for anyone who wants someone to come and pray with them.
This is all in place now outside the Cathedral.
- Prayer ministry in group setting
This is something we have considered but not taken further so far. Prayer ministry was offered in the recent healing service.
- Open prayers during Bible study
- Prayer guide for use if you cannot make it to the services
The service sheet is usually available from the last service and can be used by individuals at a later time. We have provided prayers for peace when we were remembering 9/11.
- Prayer groups
We have offered for some time to link up people who wish to pray together in groups but so far no one has shown interest in doing this.
- More info on prayer support
We have comprehensive information available.
- Anglican prayer beads may not be as well known as the rosary
- More evangelism
- Ecumenical and interfaith contacts
- Reach out to other Christian sims
We hoped to meet with other Christian leaders but several ministries have been undergoing change recently. This is still on our agenda. We have offered prayer and practical support to other ministries on occasion. We are also happy to share our facilities with other Christian ministries. We also advertise events being offered by other Christian sims.
- Working with other SL churches to provide an ecumenical presence in SL. Perhaps joint activities at times, or something to that effect.
We investigated doing a joint Bible study with another ministry but this has not happened so far.
- Mission would be great, as well as reaching out to others in need
- What secular groups should we approach?
- Is there a mission sub-group? What are the immediate and short-term goals? I think that the Cathedral is relying too heavily on being an ‘attractional model’ of church at the moment.
- We should identify the leaders of any non-Christian groups we are members of and talk to them. This is parallel to RL chaplaincy support.
- My SL partner and I enjoy dancing and it is very difficult to find a place in SL that is not vulgar.
Regular socials/dances take place at two different times to accommodate different time zones.
- Other social activities to get to know each other would be great as well
- I would enjoy being part of a community.
I believe that community is developing with regular attendees at the various events and services.
- Attempts to build community interest groups
- Sailing, flying or other topical recreational interest groups
- History buffs group, or other topics reading a book and discussing it maybe
- Perhaps events that would draw others in SL who are not actively seeking Christian community.
- People need to be engaged for a 30 minute to one hour social time after each service
It’s common for people to stay to chat after services, though some have to get back to RL.
- Music outside services – eg concerts or small gatherings
Some early discussions have taken place about this.
- Game night
- Visit other SL places. What about having a social activity at some other non Christian sim? Christians having fun together! Should we arrange an AoSL social at say Club Rockaway, for example?
This is in the early stages of planning.
- Movie night
- Opportunities for artists, musicians, writers
In the early days of our ministry there was an art exhibition. We have displayed work created by a community member.
- So much built is not being used
We now use more of the sim for activities. We have teleporters to help members explore the sim and now have a map which facilitates teleporting. The sim has been split into four parcels to allow different activities to go on without one interrupting the other.
SUPPORT OF MEMBERS
- Have times when people will be present on sim and post these
- Greater/more presence (more than the scheduled events).
Leadership Team members are encouraged to be present on the sim whenever they can, though not at pre-arranged times.
- Having someone always on call instead of needing to be IM’d
- Welcomers are very good, showing people round. Many have done this quite naturally. There is a way to show if the owner of a sim is online so that someone can make contact and ask for a tour.
We are looking at ways to make our welcomers more obvious to the community and would like to build a bigger team of welcomers. Leadership Team members are always happy to give a tour to anyone.
- Priest on call for confessions
- Support for members when having difficulties in RL
This kind of support is always available. Many conversations go on with members of our community who are struggling with problems in RL. Members of the Prayer Ministry Team area always happy to pray with anyone who would wish it.
- Lay ministry training in pastoral care
A pastoral care/listening course will be on offer in September.
- Follow up with people who have prayer requests. Maybe note card to ask if want contact
- Qualifications of pastoral care persons
Those currently able to give pastoral care are listed in our information about the Cathedral. They are either ordained or qualified as counselors.
- Follow up on people who leave
- It would be good to identify pastoral people and allocate them 10 people to friend them.
- As things stand currently, there are not effective structures in place for sharing of the responsibility for pastoral care.
Hopefully the structures are developing.
- System of referrals for pastoral care
Anyone can contact those available and ask for help. Leadership Team members who are contacted would refer people to the right help.
- Encourage people with pastoral gifts to identify themselves
- Some availability for counseling/discussion.
Counseling is available from Helene at the moment.
- Trained counselors besides Helene, Arkin, Gareth
- Is there a way to see who is a trained counselor?
Our information makes this clear. If a person is not listed in our information we have not approved their ministry on the sim.
- Someone who would discuss theology with me
Service leaders are happy to talk after the service if some issue has come up. We have two ordained members on our Leadership Team who would be happy to discuss with anyone.
- Pairing up people with spiritual mentors
- Make clear LGBT are welcome
Our vision statement makes it clear that ALL are welcome at Epiphany. We have members who are from all over the world, from different denominations and of differing theological persuasions.
LEADERSHIP TEAM AND COMMUNICATION
We made a commitment to communicate here.
- RL identities of Leadership Team members
All Leadership Team members give their RL identities and RL photos on the blog. Ordained members and the Lay Pastor give RL names on the notice board outside the Cathedral.
- Information on how Leadership Team are chosen
Currently the Leadership Team members are invited to join. They are chosen by the existing Leadership Team.
- Lack of transparency in operations is pretty strong across the board.
- We are working hard to improve our transparency in all our work. We report monthly on the work of the Leadership Team and always invite comments on those reports on the blog.
- Could use more visibility into the vestry and annual voting for the vestry members, like in “real” church
See above on our transparency. There are no plans for voting in members as we consider it to be too open to abuse.
- I would like the decisions and actions to be more accessible.
- How well does the Cathedral admit when things are not working? There have been crises in the past that have NOT been handled well – there have been a number of people who have left the group consequently. The Leadership Team should also be prepared to explore how the Cathedral is perceived by OTHER leaders of Christian SIMs.
Although I cannot answer for actions in the past, I believe we are able to admit mistakes. Should anyone find themselves hurt by the action of anyone in our community, I shall do my best to resolve the problem and an apology will be given where we have failed anyone.
- Statement of core beliefs that Leadership Team members embrace
We have a clear vision statement on the blog.
- More focus on what in particular the ministry is trying to do.
I think our current vision statement, revised after the survey was conducted , is fairly clear.
- What would help would be if there was a clear sense of identity for the community. If you analyze any church in RL you can illustrate what MODEL of church applies. It would be interesting to do such an analysis on the Anglican Cathedral Project.
- What is important then is to ask HOW the vision is realized in practice, and how do the various groups that exist at the Cathedral satisfy this vision? Also important to ask HOW can the vision be realized while the AoSL strive to be “A Christian community for those who call themselves: Anglicans, Episcopalians or members of the Church of England, Episcopal Church or any of the other bodies of believers who share the Anglican heritage.” The aim is wrong. That is like saying we will be all things to all people…so if you are in to New Age church, then come on in! (NB This refers to our previous vision statement.)
I believe our current vision and mission statements, though no doubt not perfect, go some way to addressing this concern.
- Figuring out what we believe, communicating that to the rest of the SL Christian world so they know who we are and helping them know how they want to deal with us. Deciding if we are Anglican or not – either deciding firmly that we are Anglican, or else changing name of sim accordingly so other Anglicans aren’t affected by our reputation.
I think our current vision statement on the blog makes it plain that we are Anglican and nothing else.
- People struggle to grasp what an Anglican representation should be in SL. Technically it should follow the resolutions from Lambeth. There should be a FAQ notecard which makes clear that our position is that of the Lambeth Conference. We should look up the resolutions and toe the party line
See above. Currently we refer to Lambeth 1.10 in our vision and also the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.
- Make it clearer how to contact Leadership Team
We have recently reviewed all our notice boards and content of notices, and the content of our blog. We are always happy to receive suggestions on how we can improve.
- Make blog more widely read
When posts bearing information such as Leadership Team reports or financial statements, a notice is sent out in world also. This usually results in extra visits to our blog. Also, we post at various key times of the Church year and this tends to lead to more visits to the blog.
- Information on budget: where money has been coming from, what money is spent on, what our upcoming needs might be.
Reports on the income and expenditure of AoSL are made on a regular basis. We have a designated treasurer who is always happy to answer further questions.
- I would like to see it spelled out if financial support is needed, and if so how to do it. I appreciate the discreteness of the donation box at the front, but for those of us able to support, it would be good to have a discrete way of finding out whether support is needed or if support should instead go to other charities in SL perhaps.
Appeals for donations are made in service notecards. We still have our donation fonts and baskets which give the monthly target for fund raising. We also have a thermometer which tracks progress towards our yearly goal.
- Newsletter with contributions from members
- Raise awareness of Epiphany in RL and in SL
Members of the Leadership Team are often asked to speak to researchers, media, conferences and so on. In this way, word is spread.
- Marketing to provide increased awareness in SL & RL
- More outreach away from Epiphany Island letting others know it’s here
We are nearly ready to provide a notecard dispenser which can be placed at the homes or businesses of community members. Any further ideas are very welcome.
- Reaching out to the whole SL community via marketing etc.
We reach out to other Christian ministries via the Christian Connection group, sending our notices that way each week. We list our events in the Events calendar in order to keep the community at large informed of our activities.
- I have real concerns that when a member of the congregation submits an idea to a leadership member for consideration by the team, that it is not necessarily passed on if that person doesn’t think much of the idea!
As far as I am aware, all ideas are brought to the Leadership Team for consideration. If anyone finds that has not happened, please contact Helene Milena (Lay Pastor) or Cady Enoch (Churchwarden).
- The seamy side of SL behavior needs to be counteracted by information in places like New Citizens Inc or Help Island as to where help can be found and that includes the church.
- It is possible to find out about this ministry but it is a little hard to find at the moment!
Do let us know what you think about the information as it is now presented outside the Cathedral and on our blog.
- Make a list of talents needed and ask for volunteers
- List activities needing volunteers
We have a list on a notecard which is issued from our volunteers’ box outside the Cathedral.
- Ask people to assist – some are to shy to volunteer
I agree and often approach people to enlist their help.
- Ask members to list what talents they would like to contribute
- A time and talents survey could be undertaken.
Perhaps enough time has elapsed since our survey to avoid survey fatigue and we could now do this.
- Just talking to people to get to know them better.
Many conversations go on which help us to know people and encourage them to offer their talents to our ministry.
- I would like to see other people’s ideas taken up for the development of the island.
We have recently incorporated some suggestions, such as removing solid barriers between areas of the sim and increasing the animals to be found there.
- It’s really important for people to be involved and for them to be prayed for by the community, commissioned, as should have happened with the prayer team.
Both prayer and commissioning are now part of how we operate.
- Consideration should be shown for why people are not stepping up to get involved AND if they do, how is discernment shown in their giftings.
- The site simply looks like a clone of an English Cathedral rather than a church that has followed Christ’s command to “Go into all the world…” resulting in a church and a site that appeals to Christians globally!
This is a difficult one to deal with. We did have NZ Christmas trees on the sim this year. Our Cathedral is of course an English cathedral!
- However informal, the Cathedral should have a recognized management of change procedure which is difficult in the absence of having a fully functioning PCC or vestry.
We moved to a conventional structure in our Leadership Team in September in line with our draft constitution. I would say we are now fully functioning.
- There should also be recognition that those ordained don’t have exclusivity on truth; and therefore considering leadership styles – maybe have something like a Leadership Team away day to work through some of this stuff, beginning and ending with prayer.
- I think my question about organized religion in SL is something like: how does one live out one’s faith in a world with such different operating principles from the one in which Anglican Christianity developed? In a reality with no sickness, death, or abject poverty, what are the works of mercy for SL? What would a Sermon on the Mount in SL list as the operating principles for the Christian life? How do Christian roots grow differently in a virtual reality? What does incarnation mean in a world of avatars? These are the questions that Christian leaders in SL should be musing on, in my opinion.
 See Adam, P. (2000), Living the Trinity, Grove Spirituality Series No. 1, Nottingham, Grove Books Limited AND Dulles, A.C. (2002), Models of the Church, New York, Doubleday