Here, rather late I’m afraid, is the report on our last Conversation and Cake get together on Sunday 15 April.
At the last conversation we had talked about finance. At the time of this meeting it was apparent that we will not meet our target in order to pay the tier for the year 2012-2013 which falls due in May. We are probably short of about $1000. The target seen in world has been high because we set a budget to try to provide for the future and to account for increases in prices. As things stand, we will not have raised what we actually need, with no contingency built in. The way to manage is to borrow some money effectively from the months to come but that means that by this time next year we will need to have raised the tier for the year plus the $1000 borrowed. When we consider that in September 2010 Linden Lab suddenly doubled the tier we had to find, I think we did very well as a community to collect what we needed. It has been quite a difference to adapt to. We really appreciate all the generous donations we receive.
Our current source of income is donations. As we have not yet been able to fulfill our hope to become a charity, we cannot apply for grants or claim tax rebates as can be done in some countries. It was suggested that a church seeing us as a mission extension would be good. I have followed up two contacts which members of our community have suggested but so far had no response. It would be wonderful to work with RL churches, providing their members with all that we enjoy in addition to RL church.
It was suggested that an article in the Church Times in Britain might raise our profile. There was an article some time back. We do seem to be well known, with colleges sending students to study us as part of their course. It might have been nice if such colleges made a nominal donation to us of course. Going forward we need extra sources of income and probably more members. We hope to progress the idea of memorial plaques which would bring in some income for us. We have around 550 members and that is reasonably representative as we deleted members from our group who had not been in SL for a long time. Each was sent a personal message and invited to rejoin at any time.
We talked last time about welcomers. There have been no further volunteers so far. Welcome is vital as part of building our community. The task is not onerous. Welcomers do not have to commit to being present at a certain time. They are simply asked to hang out on the sim when they can to greet anyone who visits. There was a request for a mini job description to be posted for the community to know what is required in case people think it’s a bigger job than it is.
The current requirements are:
• Agree with our vision statement and doctrinal statement.
• Be a member of our community for three months.
• Agree to SL name and avatar picture going on the blog.
• Be prepared to gain familiarity with the sim.
• Encouraged to write a short bio for the blog but not required to do so.
We talked about the many services we had over Holy Week and Easter. Feedback was good with some members experiencing some of the special services of the season for the first time ever, having never attended them in RL before. ‘Deeply impressed’ and ‘effective’ were some of the terms applied to the services. At some services numbers were low but the important matter was that they were meaningful occasions for those who came. We had larger groups than usual attending Evening Prayer, which was encouraging. After a busy Easter Sunday service there were a lot of people milling around, some having worshipped with us for the first time. It was a very difficult time to make sure I spoke to everyone and inevitably a person got missed. It was suggested that all the community should work to welcome others after services to spread the load and avoid missing people. Having people labelled welcomers might help. We do work hard at welcoming others but can always improve. Every member of the group can add other members. That alone would have made things easier to manage. We could remind those in the Cathedral at the end of big services to engage people they don’t recognise in conversation.
We went on to talk about the blog. At the time we had reached 92 countries since 25 February. (The total is now 102 countries). Our Facebook page tends to bring people to the blog. On 1 April we had 190 visits due to the April Fools joke about the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury coming to an agreement about online church and sacraments. We are always happy to receive content for the blog from the community. Any member of the Leadership Team can upload it.
It was suggested that we organise a benefit concert. I was able to share that a community member was looking into getting us a classical musician to do a concert. There was a question about the use of music on Epiphany. We are trying to understand the licensing rules which are very complex. We wondered if paying Able not to sing to his guitar could prove to be a good revenue stream!
Once again, those gathered indicated how useful it is to have these conversations so that they can understand better what is going on at Epiphany.
Members stressed how important it is to reach out to people in SL and some said they would be telling their friends about our ministry. We were told of the positive impact it has had on some gathered there.