Below is the report of Conversation and Cake #10. 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 held on 24 February 2013. Text in italic was commentary made to my report.
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, by the end of December we had raised 49% of our annual goal – L$531361 out of L$1068375. At the end of January we had raised 55%, L$590365. When I took a look earlier in the day we had raised 26% of the February target i.e. L$31740 out of L$119565. The date is 24th February which means we would anticipate having around 48% of our target already raised. We have a challenge ahead to raise what we need by the end of May but I’m sure we can do it. I did some calculations last time which showed that each of us would need to donate $80 US, 60 Euros or 50 Pounds over the year.
I was asked when the tier is due. It will need to be paid at the end of May, giving three months to raise the money we need. For those who were unsure of where to donate we explained that we have donations fonts and baskets around the sim, the easiest to find being just inside the main cathedral door. Alternatively Paypal can be used via the link on our blog. It was suggested we could try some fundraising push. A concert was suggested. This is something we have considered before but never managed. We have also had two club evenings hosted by Vaino. These were not for fundraising but could be run again with tips being given to the Cathedral. Czari suggested some kind of contest such as are run for RFL. Everyone was encouraged to think what might be done. A social team, as mentioned in previous C&Cs would possibly be able to do something like this. It was also suggested that we pray about the financial situation.
I had some feedback from Harper Ganesvoort who suggested we have a prayer rail in the Cathedral. She likes it very much. It seems that Barney agrees as I caught him standing on the kneeler of the rail and trying to light a candle the other day!
Charlie was content as long as Barney wasn’t raising his leg to put the candles out!
Although the idea of a community wall has not progressed a lot further, some thought has been given to it. It seems the best way forward would be to use a mesh design. Not everyone might have a viewer installed which can show mesh, though many will. It is possible to put signs around the sim so that anyone who sees them will be known to have a viewer that cannot see mesh. The sign will ask the person to contact me and I can make sure they are linked up with someone who can help them find a suitable viewer. Ana has done that for Charlie recently as his computer struggled with some viewers. You can see an example of the sign.
The sign which is only seen by those without mesh capability caused some consternation and didn’t seem to be working as it should. Some people will need to install new viewers to see mesh. This can be a problem with older machines.
There are likely to be further problems with viewers in the near future as LL moves to server side baking. This is something that is being discussed on the various forums about SL. We hope to be in a position to give good advice to our members as time goes on.
The mention of baking caused even more consternation! Kultainen wondered if it concerned making cakes, which led to Freezing’s mouth watering. As Cady pointed out, it’s to do with how an image is displayed in SL. This article will help you understand if you are not sure what is being talked about. http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/avatar-baking-and-the-clock-has-started/
No further work has been done on the blog but it will be changed eventually. As I said last time, we have no date for going live as yet.
Work has mostly been done this month on the survey which was agreed to last time. Ana has put in a lot of thought (and talked to members of the Leadership Team on occasion also). The survey has been checked by the LT and has undergone minor changes as a result. The survey even has a name – FRED. F = Finding, RE = REliable, D = Data. The survey has been designed to be similar to the one in 2009 so that results can be compared. Apart from demographic data, we will once again ask for input about our church here with relation to the ‘Seven Marks of Healthy Churches’. The language describing these has been simplified to make it easier for people to complete the survey. We are very much aware that many of our members are using English as a second or other language. Also, using ‘church-speak’ is not helpful if that’s something people are not used to. There are some free text boxes where people can write what they want. The survey will go live sometime this week, certainly by Sunday. I will send out a notice when it is available to be accessed via the blog. As Ana can’t analyse the results until May, we will let FRED run until the end of April. When the results have been analysed we will allocate a major part of Conversation and Cake to a discussion of them. That should be May or June.
Czari considers it a very good idea as the community has changed a lot since the last survey was undertaken. She was a little startled to find just how much time had passed since the last one.
As I said last time, we had had four people volunteer to help with the technical work around the sim, on the blog, and so on to support the work of the churchwarden. Since our last C&C the Leadership Team has agreed to offer the four volunteers the opportunity to form the new Technical Team. Three of them have so far replied: Ana Stubbs, Wave Rodenberger and Czari Zenovka. In addition, ZoeRose Eiren from the LT has indicated an interest in working with the Technical Team. The job description is given here:
The Technical Team
The Technical Team…
- Works under the authority of the LT, in particular the churchwarden
- Acts as consultants to the LT, contributing advice on any proposals made by members of the LT or community.
- Advises the community on security issues/vulnerabilities for the sim or individuals, as well as changes in technology within SL and their implications.
- Makes suggestions to the LT which aim to improve, simplify, or make more efficient what we offer technically on the sim, blog or other interfaces with the public.
- Offers technical support to newbies (in addition to the general support offered by members of the community)
- Completes work requested by members of LT in order to support the life of the community.
- Maintains an awareness of the sim, fixing and/or reporting any problems
Members of the Technical Team…
- Must agree with our vision statement and doctrinal statement
- Must have been active in the community for at least three months
- Must be well known to at least two members of the LT
- Must have the necessary technical knowledge
- Must agree to SL name and avatar picture going on the blog.
- Are encouraged to write a short bio for the blog but not required to do so
- Must be prepared to gain familiarity with the sim, the blog, the FB page, etc.
- Give edit perms on their objects to the Churchwarden and other Technical Team members.
- Should take on specific tasks where appropriate, either one-off or regular tasks
- Should have a probationary period and regular reviews
In addition, from the Churchwarden’s job description:
Together with the Technical Team, he or she should ensure the smooth running of the Cathedral, the sim and other aspects of the ministry. This work includes but is not limited to
- Provision of items needed for services, such as candles or video screens, at the request of Worship Leaders
- Management of land and estate settings
- Management of group roles and settings
- Diagnosis and repair of sim problems
- Set up and maintenance of scripted tools, such as HippoVISIT or notecard dispensers
- Landscaping and terraforming, including seasonal landscaping and décor
- Purchase of items needed within the budget provided
- Updating of signage and notecards on the sim
- Sending out weekly and special events notices
- Training of new volunteers.
- Maintenance of the blog.
I am hopeful that forming this team will allow our ministry to function better, with issues on the sim and so on being resolved quickly and enhancements being suggested to increase the enjoyment we have of the sim.
Joyous noted: I didn’t see “must be able to reconstruct portions of the cathedral if a LT member accidently destroys it. (For those not aware, in Joyous’ early days on the Leadership Team, she managed to ‘disappear’ the undercroft of the Cathedral which Cady had to help restore). Ana mentioned that she can reconstruct the chapel and wondered if that was enough to qualify for the Technical Team. Freezing pointed out that Ana can reconstruct the chapel as an aquarium and I added ‘or a pond or an ice rink’.
The very long list of jobs needed to keep the sim running amazed Charlie that Cady did it all by herself. Others agreed. As I pointed out, much of the work has been hidden and taken for granted.
In the process of deciding on a job description for the technical team we have also completed job descriptions for all other roles: The Leadership Team, The Lay Pastor, The Churchwarden, The Vice Chair, The Treasurer, The Secretary, Study/Discussion Leaders, Worship Leaders, Prayer Ministry Team, Pastoral Team, Welcomer Team and guidelines for outside DJs who may come to play here. We have also changed some of the titles members can wear. You will now see Prayer Team, Pastoral Team, Leadership Team, Epiphany Technician as titles as well as the more familiar Cathedral Welcomer, Lay Pastor, Anglican.
Charlie wanted to know who is in charge of the vice. I offered the job to him but he refused. Czari wondered if keeping an eye on Charlie was part of the Tech Team’s job.
As a result of the decision to expand the Leadership Team, I have asked each current member of the Team if they wish to continue in that role or not. I hoped to have this finalised by the end of January but it took longer than expected to complete the job descriptions due to my RL commitments. I think it’s time to recognise it as a separate calling, not necessarily one that goes along with leading worship or study or helping with the technical aspects of our work for instance. So far three members of the current team, plus myself, are continuing and one is stepping down. I expect to have the full picture by the end of the week. I have asked all to recommit to the role, bearing in mind the new job description. I have suggested a sabbatical if someone just needs a couple of months’ break. If someone leaves the LT I see no reason why they should not return at a later date. Once we know how many members are staying, we will be in a position to offer a chance to join the Team to others. We have had one volunteer; if anyone else would like to volunteer, please let me know. I will give full information at the next C&C.
Joyous volunteered that it is she who is stepping down. That will happen on the same day as the Pope steps down. Ana wondered if Joyous was moving into a convent in the Vatican. Freezing wondered about the special car she might have, a Joyous mobile. As Joyous explained, she is stepping down to allow some turnover not because she is unhappy. Charlie wondered if this is like compost but Ana seemed to think it must be apple or raspberry turnover.
No one has volunteered to help form a social team but that might be something we can take forward once we get the current changes completed.
Kultainen wondered what the social team would do. I suggested arranging events on Epiphany or visits elsewhere. Charlie hoped some would raise money. Czari suggested being a tourguide of Epiphany. It would also be important to enjoy ourselves, not just be concerned to raise money. Czari enjoyed the social aspect of the Posada and would enjoy social gatherings. Charlie reminded people of the Friday socials. Unfortunately they coincide with many other events in SL. It would be good to have events on other times. We’ve had an offer of a DJ for European times which seemed to suit some who were present. I encouraged everyone to think if they might like to be on the social team. There is no job description for the role yet! It would be good to spread the load by having more people involved.
Another change is that we now have a part of the Leadership Team collaboration software available for volunteers other than the LT. I have sent out invitations to everyone who volunteers, giving them the opportunity to join. They would not necessarily need to discuss anything but it would make it easier to give out information and receive reports of difficulties on the sim, absences and so on if we have most people as part of this project. I am hoping that more and more will take up the offer in the days and weeks ahead.
Czari said she loved the collaboration software. Mordecai wondered if that would help volunteers in being accurate with information when greeting. It would certainly allow documents, such as the one with information for welcomers that I need to update, to be shared. It would be possible to share best practice and even to create personal ‘to do’ lists.
The St Georg community has now changed its compline to Tuesday at noon SLT so that any German speakers from there can choose to join us for our German Evening Prayer on Wednesdays. I hope that connection between us will develop over time.
This is a Roman Catholic German church.
Hopefully now we have the Technical Team in place, the issues with the various boxes which should give out notecards can be resolved. The prayer box should allow prayer requests to be accessed but not at the moment. If you notice any other issues on the sim please let us know.
Charlie wondered if we are making as much impact on Facebook as we could. Do people come as a result of our Facebook page? I am not sure, but new people join the Facebook page fairly regularly. Czari mentioned that two people have come from asking about churches on the SL forums, which is another way to connect with us. Czari is doing sterling work there. Ana hopes to look into using Facebook more as a consequence of the blog revamp. There is also Plurk (defined by Ana as Twitter with its head on one side) which we do not use. http://www.plurk.com/Ana_Stubbs
Charlie originally found us as a result of googling virtual church. People find us in many different ways. That is one of the questions in the survey.
Are there any further suggestions or comments?
Mordecai liked the informal atmosphere of the meeting. I suggested that most of us like this way of being together and thinking about our community.
Czari: Thank you Helene, Leadership Team, prayer leaders and everyone!!!! So much happens behind the scenes to make Epiphany such an amazing and well-run community. And a special thank you to Cady for…sooo much!!!
Freezing: Can I make a suggestion for the sim? I know we’re already overwhelmed with ideas, but could we have more directional signage around the sim? Perhaps a four-way sign post directing new visitors to the different buildings? I just think we have a lot of buildings, but it really is hard to gauge their function sometimes. A sign or plaque at one or two might be helpful.
This idea was well received. We used to have signs around but as Cady pointed out, they used a lot of prims. Ana was unsure how much the teleporter is used. I had noticed signs in shops which not only pointed in the right direction but TP an avatar when clicked.
Mordecai: Could they be in more than one language as we’ll have the German congregation for compline?
These ideas are likely to go on the Technical Team’s ‘to do’ list which could grow very long. Czari suggested a meeting of the team to share who is good at what skills. Freezing decided to hide and examine the contract for a get-out clause. Some of the sharing of skills can be managed in Basecamp, the collaboration software.
Charlie was very pleased to see so many volunteers. It would not be wise for anyone to do more than they should as they risk burning out. As I said, if we all do what we can it will be more than enough but before it was all done by very few.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor