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 from the 21st July meeting. Comments made by those present are given in italics:
The meeting began in some chaos as Celberon, as a cat, invaded Ana’s pond, shortly followed by Charlie. Ana felt as though she was being boarded.
Celberon may have swallowed too much water because his voice was broken up. As Ana explained: “he sou… li… thi…” As Celberon headed off to relog there were wishes of “the force – erm, voice –“ being with him and talk of Yoda and the dark side.
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.
We are now in our new financial year with a new basic monthly target for fund raising of L$53250. We raised L$65,372 in June which was 11.2% of our year’s target and obviously more than we needed to raise in a month. As Able was away we didn’t recalculate the monthly target for July but it can be adjusted for August. I saw that we had raised just 17% of our month’s needs earlier today, so donations are quite poor at the moment but hopefully they will pick up as the summer break in the northern hemisphere passes.
Celberon is continuing to lead the Sunday compline service. Around 6 people are attending, which is good.
Celberon thanked those who had supported him as he led compline.
Ana commented that she was glad people didn’t drown last week. Sunday prayers in the chapel, compline and Monday Morning Prayer were all held under water. This was because the sim was still flooded from our Sea Sunday celebrations. Able complained that he had water in the ear and couldn’t find the toilet. Charlie noted that Able wouldn’t have needed a toilet! Joyous reassured us that we only lost two or three to drowning in the flood. Celberon has a well-trained whale so he was ok.
We still need other worship leaders to provide cover for the compline services. If this is something you would like to do or if you know of someone who might be interested, do talk to any member of the Leadership Team.
Ana provided a link to the short film of Sea Sunday https://vimeo.com/70303655. Carla was sorry she had missed the day but by not being in the Anglican group she had not seen the notices, though we do try to put notices on an easel outside the cathedral and they can also always be found by clicking on the main notice board outside the cathedral. The situation has been remedied so Carla shouldn’t miss anything in future.
Work has continued on developing changes for the sim. At the moment there has been a focus on completing the change of how the notices outside the cathedral are presented and also some work on pathways around the sim.
Ana provided the suggested notice boards to go either side of the main cathedral door so that everyone could take a look. Here is a photo for those who were not at the meeting http://www.flickr.com/photos/anastubbs/9338227758/. At that moment Freezing logged on. At Ana’s shout of “Freezing!” Carla commented that it was tropical where she was and Able noted that Freezing had brought the sorbet. Not only that, he had changed clothes which was quite a surprise to those of us who are used to seeing him dressed the same way always. Maybe that was what caused the problem with Freezing seeing anything: “Nothing…. rezzing…. taking…. too….. long”
The signs were well received and fit with the branding on the new blog. The one which advertises the services was less popular. We are somewhat limited with that as we can only change the colour of the text and background. Barney(Joyous’ dog) either approved or was growling at the boards. Ana pointed out that the design she had used echoed the way the boards used to look in the past.
If you notice Ana or other members of the Technical Team floating somewhere above the sim according to your minimap, it’s because they are working up there on a mock-up of the Cathedral. Soon we hope to give an opportunity for people to visit and express their opinion. Meanwhile we have a picture of where paths may go on the sim in future.
Ana provided another photo also http://www.flickr.com/photos/anastubbs/9338219198/
Able asked about the teleporter that used to be on the cathedral to allow people to move around the sim. It has been missing for quite a long time. As Ana explained, we are in an interim period with the paths and signs needing to come together to allow people to easily navigate the sim. Currently it’s necessary to walk or fly to locations as Kulta pointed out. Spicey (Celberon’s dog) joined Barney in greeting everyone. It was inevitable that eventually Ana would cry: “NOW THERE’S A DOG IN MY POND”.
We asked last time where benches should be placed on the sim. I’m not aware of any further suggestions being made despite Ana leaving the island cake around for the rabbits to eat and to inspire us to think. It’s still possible to make suggestions of course.
No suggestions have been received so it seems everyone is currently happy with where the benches are.
The blog has now moved to the new design which I think looks very good. There are still pages to write for it but at least we have a clear, modern design that is easy to navigate. https://slangcath.wordpress.com/ Do take a look, either now or when you have time. Many thanks to Ana and Freezing for their work on the move. We discussed putting the option to post a prayer request via the blog which can be added to the requests we already gather in world. I think this might be worth trying. Many people visit the blog who don’t come in world so this would be something we can do for them.
The new design was well received. There was a lot of discussion on what should show on the home page of the blog. Charlie felt that Conversation & Cake reports should not be there because they are only for our community. He requested that the reports have a better introduction. Celberon asked the natural question to follow that: “Is the blog for the public or only for our own people?” I consider that it’s for both groups. We know that some people keep connected to us through the blog and that our members visit the blog for information. The most viewed page is Services this Week. Ana confirmed that one of the audiences the blog serves is people who have been involved with us in the past. Ana herself found it very useful when she was away from SL for a time. I often receive comments about sermons posted on the blog. Ana pointed out that blogs are designed to show all new material on the front page.
Freezing wondered why Conversation & Cake shouldn’t be on the home page as the home page is a stream of posts. It would not be possible to post it anywhere else except perhaps a separate page. He confirmed that our blog is also our public face to the world, as well as an in-house information system
Joyous wondered if the first page should be the ‘About the Cathedral’ page for new people allowing those interested to go to the other pages. Freezing pointed out: “Theoretically, you can put a summary of what we are in the sidebar, as I have seen many blog authors doing. But that can look cluttered.” Ana was emphatic that we shouldn’t have a static welcome page as that’s a good way to get people to leave the website. Another suggestion was to put Services this Week as the first page.
As you probably know, I have always offered pastoral care and counselling to people who come to Epiphany. I wanted to make sure that I was following best practice and so have now completed a 40 hour course on online counselling. I shall be doing another course in September on avatar therapy which I think is a very interesting idea.
The more enthusiastic members (Able and Celberon) took this as an opportunity to try out their ‘Yay’ gestures. Able offered me some references to help with the new course. I was a little wary as in the past he has had me read chunks of Pannenberg but he assured me those were not the references he was thinking of.
We have been looking at ideas which came out of the survey. We now have some statistics with more to follow next time hopefully. https://www.dropbox.com/s/h14r587b64buhds/survey_stats.pdf
The thought of pie set Freezing’s mouth watering.
I’m encouraged that 16% of our respondents found Epiphany Island as a result of getting information from a friend. I’m not sure who Other is, but he or she is also doing a good job in recommending us!
Ana expanded on the make up of ‘Other’: two who came through a magazine article, two from a seminary course, and a few who said a member of the LT sent them here.
Ana wasn’t sure if that counted as a “friend”.
Although only two people say they have not attended church in RL regularly, suggesting we are not reaching many people who have no church experience, we have a higher percentage who now make us their main church.
Freezing Sorbet was curious how many ‘lapsed’ individuals this ministry reaches, assuming it would be quite a high number. Ana gave further information: “Apart from the two people who have never attended most of those people who don’t attend RL church once a month or more will be “lapsed” or just very busy. I’m hoping to compare to see what attracts those who do and don’t go to RL church and see if there’s a difference.
We don’t set out to replace RL church of course, but recognise that for various reasons we may be the only church for some people, perhaps for just a period of their lives.
Thinking of people attending church here on Epiphany Island, it’s been noticeable that there have been many fewer people at the noon Sunday service in recent weeks. Meanwhile numbers attending Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer seem perhaps a little above what they used to be. Numbers are not everything but they can give some indication of whether things are going well or not. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions as why this might be.
Kulta had brought up this subject earlier in the conversation but unfortunately had to leave before we reached this point.
Joyous confirmed that numbers at her RL church are lower in the summer.
Celberon wondered if the Hippovisit detectors we have around the sim provide us with stats. They do but the email goes to Cady. Ana wants to arrange to get this information from Cady.
Might Gareth be a cause for the drop? Celberon wondered if numbers are seasonal. I confirmed that numbers are lower in the summer. SpiritGate has had significantly less visitors recently than earlier in the year. Nipigon wondered if we were advertising enough. Ana pointed out that she had always advocated advertising on NCI as that reaches many, not just newbies. Charlie thought this was a good idea. In world advertising would be much cheaper than RL. Charlie wanted to know how much it would cost to advertise at NCI. At this point Freezing started to tap his foot, waiting for the mermaid to find out. At this point Ana disappeared. Freezing wondered if she had gone to get something to hurt him with but as Able pointed out, since when did she need to teleport away to do that. Ana gave us the information from NCI when she returned. It would cost L$150 a week for an advertising slot with an initial 4 week minimum purchase. Freezing was concerned that advertising would bring griefers. Ana suggested we might need some bouncing practice as we haven’t had griefers for some time.
Nipigon wondered about an advert that appears automatically on every member’s shirt a few minutes before the event. Ana suggested beaming it into the sky and Freezing prepared his airship. Ana recalled that there were information dispensers people could have at their homes. She wondered about the uptake, which was poor as I recall. Able pointed out that if people visit his home they are already on Epiphany. However, his home in a coffin in the crypt attracted some people.
Five years ago we were all over the media. We have had some media coverage with the media awards, some courses from universities and seminaries which mention us. Media coverage of SL is now mostly negative and uses old footage from the days before the adult section of SL was moved to an area of its own. It would be a challenge to advertise outside SL as most people see it as over and done. Ana pointed out that half the people responding in the survey found us in search so the work done on changing our key words on our profile seems to have worked.
Freezing wondered about posting the sermons on the blog in media format rather than in writing for those who might not want to come into SL. It’s something I have thought about in the past if I could get my recording program to work well. This in itself would not bring more people to the services in world of course.
Lacey wondered if it was perception that SL is passé. She doesn’t think it is passé. She had recently heard of the head of ABC network visiting. Ana thinks that the general perception is fed by the media suggesting that SL is from 2007. She gave a recent example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23000809 Ana noted that this was a recent interview with outdated footage. Nipigon also considered that the world of 3D modelling is gaining ground and SL is a good place for it. Freezing considers that there is too much land which leaves the people dispersed giving the impression that SL is abandoned.
Celberon suggested the novelty has worn off, prices of tier were put up and updating viewers may be annoying. He himself had to keep away until he could get a PC that could cope. However there are some wonderful places in SL which are very creative. It’s an excellent communication mode. More older people are finding the internet to be good.
I wondered if adding music to the services would make a difference but it seems more like window dressing. We could follow up those who used to come but don’t come now. We could also have more different services like the Sea Sunday one.
Freezing wondered if some people may think that we are exclusively Anglicans, for Anglicans only. That might limit the number of people who would come even with good advertising. He had noted some people reacting quite strongly to the fact that we are Anglican.
As the meeting was coming to an end, Freezing suggested that we should have C&C every week (Is he mad?). The reference to C&C confused Nipigon, understandably. The explanation seemed likely to confuse even more. First C&C was ‘Coffee and Cake’, then Coffee, Cake and Conversation which could be called 3C. Ana pointed out there was lemonade too making it C3L. Ana made it neater: Coffee, Citrus fruits, Cake and Conversation, C4. There’s cola too. Freezing suggested: “And then we can make a logo with explosives on it. It’s a winner!”
If you have any comments on any item that was raised at C&C #14 do add to the comments here or contact any member of the Leadership Team.
Helene Milena – Lay Pastor