After the noon SLT service, members of our community met with members of the Leadership Team to hear updates on our ministry and to have a chance to share ideas and ask questions. The wording in italic below is my initial contribution. I then summarise the conversation which followed.
At the last Conversation and Cake I suggested that we would not be able to meet our tier payment this time. I now have up to date figures. It seems that we are only about $46US short of our target, about L$12,000. If we could raise that by the end of May we should be ok for another year. Not only that, we have proved that we can survive financially on donations only even in a time of recession. Hopefully we can find other ways to raise money in the year to come. The current setting on the donations baskets has been left since April, so the donations there cover both months in world. As our tier falls due at the end of May, calculating our budgetary needs from June to May makes sense.
I have suggested that this year we set a budget of the minimum that we need to survive, rather than building in contingency as we did in the year 2011-12. It would be nice to think that this time next year we will be in surplus.
I had mentioned in the service sheet what our need is to be able to pay our tier. As a result I was offered a gift to cover half of what is needed, which is very generous indeed and a wonderfully encouraging piece of support from the community. Others there offered to help where they could. A sponsor was suggested but the risk of anyone being in that position is that it might compromise the independence of the ministry. Ideas were suggested for items to sell on the Marketplace, where it’s possible to have part of the purchasing price sent to someone other than the seller. One member is learning to build and may be able to build to order if things are not too complex. Tails seem to be the early success here. We recognised that creating in SL is time intensive. Those of us who are not creative in SL are amazed at the creativity we see in others.
It was agreed that setting a minimum budget for survival might be better than building in contingency. In the year 2011-2012 we made generous allowances for increase in the price of the tier. We also added 20% to the budget to try to build up surplus so that we are not living hand to mouth. As God seems to be giving us what we need at the last minute, perhaps he prefers us to live hand to mouth of course!
Since our last get together we have two new welcomers: Kat Ketevana (queenkate71) and Geekesse Resident. Of course, we would be happy to have more. I posted the requirements for welcomers on the blog when I wrote up our last Conversation and Cake. The Teams page is being updated with photos as soon as I can get hold of them.
We also have two new worship leaders. Hridaya Resident is leading Compline (Night Prayer) for the American time zones at 6pm SLT on Tuesday and Thursday. This complements the work Denise is doing on Sunday at 6pm SLT. I do commend the service to you if you are in that time zone. Wave Rodenberger is now available to cover some Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer times. In June the Leadership Team have agreed to begin having Wednesday Evening Prayer in German as we have quite a number of German speakers attending our daily offices. I am currently working with Wave and others to produce a good translation of the Common Worship service into German. This arrangement will be reviewed after two months. On Wednesdays there is a 2pm SLT service in English so hopefully that will mean no one misses out on a chance to worship. English speakers will be able to attend the German service as the service sheet will have both German and English in it.
There seemed to be some surprise at the suggestion that we have a German service. Klingon was suggested as another language to use (for all the Trekkies) and Esperanto and lolcat! A Universal Translator such as in Star Trek would make it so much easier to have services accessible to people using different languages of course. I stressed that this is an experiment to see how it works out. One person expressed a hope that she might learn some German by attending. I was not so sure of my ability to learn Klingon for preaching purposes in the future! Hellfire and brimstone were the suggested topics for the Klingon sermons. Elvish was another suggestion (as you can see, the conversation was not all of a serious nature).
There is a new group in SL called JesusForce, and evanglisation team, led by Neochaos, which wants to reach out to mostly German speaking people and help them to come to faith in Jesus. It’s hoped that those who come to faith can be introduced to churches in SL or RL as JesusForce is not a church and Neochaos believes that new believers should be part of the family in a Church. JesusForce is not designed to support new Christians long term. All are welcome to all we do on Epiphany Island. It could be that some of these new Christians will join in the German service in the future. Neochaos may offer Alpha for some of these new believers. ZoeRose Eiren has a great deal of experience of Alpha but not in German!
I’ve not received any contributions for the blog since we last met but am still open to doing so. The last time I looked, the blog had had visitors from 106 countries.
Last time members said they would tell friends about our ministry. I know from seeing it happen, that it’s easier for people to come here if they are brought by a friend. Once here, I am confident they will be welcomed and included. If you want to place information on your land or in your house, Cady has designed a low prim information kiosk which you can use.
I mentioned last time that we are well known. We were contacted last Sunday by Reba Riley who has a project to visit thirty different faiths in her thirtieth year of life. We were actually her 36th visit and represented online worship. We had a very interesting conversation with Reba after last Sunday’s service. If you want to know more here is the blog address: http://www.thirtybythirty.com/about.
Cady is going to go to the wrap up party in RL in June so we look forward to hearing some news of how that goes.
Able Shepherd then shared about the Prayer Ministry Team: The Prayer Ministry team was formed out of a vision for this ministry to be fuelled by prayer. There is a heartfelt desire to invite God to be at the centre of all that we do. It seemed really important to me for people with a heart for prayer to come together to pray for the ministry exercised here and the people who make Epiphany what it is – its members and visitors. Pastoral support is so very important, and in setting up the Ministry Team we have a group of people who are all willing to meet anyone with specific needs on a one to one basis, to give a listening ear, and to pray with and for that person. Helene will run through how that can work in practice and how members of the team can be contacted in a moment. It is also important to try and practice what we preach, so we meet up weekly to pray together. We pray for each other, for the ministry here, and for the people who have asked us to pray for them in pastoral encounters. We have met with people to pray for them, often spontaneously. We have also gathered together to pray for specific people or specific issues. One of the things that has surprised me is that people don’t tend to make contact with us using the contact point outside the Cathedral which shows who the members are and when they are online. Most of our encounters are spontaneous, but we wanted people to know if and when we were available. Helene will run through some of the practicalities then I am happy to field any questions.
Helene: I think Able has covered most of it. To the left of the Cathedral door is the list of members with cubes to touch which page us. If we are online the cube is green and we can answer you by IM and arrange to meet. As Able says sometimes we meet one to one, sometimes we meet with several of us and one person who needs prayer. We keep what is shared confidential.
Able: We have also been involved in occasional services where people in the congregation have been invited to come forward for prayer / healing ministry
Helene: That’s something we could do again. I believe it was appreciated when we did it last time.
Able: Prayer requests that people submit on notecard are generally included in intercessions in services.
Helene: and we do see a lot of candles lit for prayer also. I think that’s a simple way for some to offer prayer.
Able: A key thing about the ministry team and its members is the encounter and discussion they have with community members.
Helene: I tend to follow up people I have prayed with to assure them I’m still praying.
Able: There have been times when I have met someone to pray with and it seems appropriate on occasion to invite another member of the team along if the person is willing for that to happen and as Helene has said whatever that person shares is confidential. We have also done prayer walks around Epiphany to pray for specific parts of Epiphany, where socials take place, the Cathedral following the new build that Cady did and so on.
ZoeRose shared that there has just been the first National Fresh Expressions Conference in the USA in March with Graham Cray as one of the speakers. It seems it went well, though blew the minds of some. Experiments are starting on new ways of doing church including some where there is no large meeting but simply a meeting of small groups in the community. ZoeRose has been telling people about our ministry in SL. It seems that many church leaders have not heard of SL. Of course, she has been treated to funny looks, as has happened to the rest of us. ZoeRose is going to demonstrate what SL is all about to those who are open to learning about it. It’s up to us to spread the word about what we do where we can. For some it’s a culture shock as they try to understand what ministry such as in SL is all about. There are still people who think that the internet is the devil’s playground and is populated by dangerous and deranged people. Some tend to think that SL is simply a series of games which are no use to anyone. SL is being promoted more as a game environment by Linden Lab than in the past. We need to work on overcoming that perception.
Something that SL does really well is providing a way for people from all over the world to meet and have conversations such as the one we were having, and to have fun together at the same time.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor