The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

FAQ from Epiphany Community Meetings – February 2018

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These FAQs have come from questions asked during the round of community meetings held in February at Epiphany. These open meetings were an opportunity for community members to ask questions, make suggestions and get some more information as we consider the future together.


Contents

 


Opening statement

Looking towards the future, we should remember that we are trying to do God’s work. It’s his ministry, not ours, and we must be open to doing things his way rather than ours. We give thanks for all who have ministered, or given of their skills, gifts, and abilities, here in the past, and at this time particularly Helene Milena, who has served us so well as Lay Pastor, and in various other capacities in recent years. In looking towards the future, we give thanks for those who are, or possibly will be, volunteering their time, energy and skills, to continue the work and ministry of Epiphany Island.

Possible Scriptures for all of us to reflect upon, as people volunteer for or take up positions in the leadership, or other teams:

  • Zechariah 4:6b ‘Not by might nor by power but by my spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.
  • Zechariah 4:10a “Who dares despise the day of small things, …”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the week things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; …
  • 1 Peter 5:6,7 Humble yourselves, therefore, Under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The people who volunteer to join the various teams need to be humble, willing to learn from others, and have the ability to work in unity with others, knowing, and open to the fact that we are all different, and have different ways of doing things, and expressing ourselves. We must all have patience and be willing to compromise for the good of the community, to forgive each other, and seek reconciliation if things get difficult. We pray that God will be with us in all our endeavours. [top]


Helene’s Retirement

Is Helene stepping down from all tasks or will she still be doing some of her work?

Helene has indicated that she would like to keep being involved and helping here and there, but she is stepping down from the role and can’t continue to cover all she has previously done.

Some people who have volunteered for jobs may be required to work in teams under a team leader agreed by the Leadership Team. We hope that everyone will pray for the Leadership Team so we can discern the best people. We need to spread the load and we will need new leaders on the team to take things forward. For instance, services will likely be taken by a variety of people approved to do so. [top]

Will Helene still be our Lay Pastor?

It may be more of a team ministry rather than one person doing most of it in the future – so we might not have another Lay Pastor per se. We will need someone to lead the Leadership Team, a chairperson of some kind at least. [top]

Is the problem financial? Or manpower? What?

Helene is retiring from her position as Lay Pastor – there are many roles to fulfil in order to continue the ministry. Because she does so much, it is mostly manpower – we need people to take over her tasks. Helene’s role may look very time-consuming and that could put people off. We cannot replace her with just one person – we need to consider distributing the burden with a team, as it was done a long time ago, rather than have one person doing everything. It would therefore be good to get back to a model where there are more volunteers involved – although SL has changed a lot in the last few years.

Numbers of people have volunteered in different ways and we are in the process of discerning and seeing who can do what. In the long-term, we need to think about money. [top]

It sounds like we need at least one new person to join the Leadership Team, and other people to do some admin?

Yes, the Leadership Team is too small at the moment. It has had thirteen members in the past but now has six. It needs several more members. We have had several people volunteering for the Leadership Team and we need to discern who is to be doing what.

As part of that discernment process, the Leadership Team is meeting to pray together regularly as well as meeting together for business meetings every month. God’s ways are not necessarily ours. It’s not the best-looking avatar who will get the job. We each have our gifts. As the opening statements say: “Despise not the little things”. [top]

What is the next step?

Now the meetings are done, we are letting the community know what has come up – partly through publishing these FAQs. We will also be contacting volunteers and talking about specifics of how they can help, making appointments and setting up teams. Some teams are likely to be created earlier than others. It would not be helpful to do everything at once and find we do it badly.

There have been many people who have volunteered to help but have not been specific. We had 51 survey responses. People may find it easier when they see that they are not the only ones and there are teams of people which they can join. It is important to keep communicating and to listen – it’s helpful to know what aspects of the ministry are most important to people here so that we can make sure they continue. There are also suggestions of new things which may be able to get underway if we have people able to help. There may be ways we can simplify.

There is obviously a strong desire that Epiphany should continue, but people who want that will need to help make it happen. We need a willing spirit and a cheerful heart. Fortunately, there are lots of people here with both. [top]

Will you publish a list of volunteers?

We have a policy of openness about who is doing what. All volunteers are listed on the website, so that people can know who is who. The requirements for each role are listed there also. When people who have volunteered take up their new roles, they will be added there. [top]


Leadership Team

What do the Leadership Team do to help?

We stay up late and discuss things through Basecamp, and we also try to have face to face meetings in SL when we can. We are responsible for all that happens on Epiphany Island, launching new ideas and so on. We make sure that what we do is in line with our vision and our Anglican ethos.

It’s important that we have a wide range of people on the Leadership Team to represent our members and to bring insights into what we should be doing. Individual Leadership Team members are also standing in to take services occasionally, helping with the website and doing odd jobs, greeting people on the sim and staying in touch with people who have pastoral needs. [top]


Financial

How does Epiphany fund itself?

This sim is funded by donations from members in the L$ collection points on the sim or via PayPal. There’s a donations page on the website and donation boxes in the cathedral, chapel, community center and bible study area, and some of us make regular donations via PayPal. The donation boxes give the monthly target we need to collect to be financially viable. Currently we are not reaching that target on any month. Full details on https://slangcath.wordpress.com/financial-support/ [top]

How much do we need?

We are a charity, so Linden Lab does not charge us the full price for the sim. We get a 50% discount for being non-profit. We can’t conduct commercial activity like renting out property on the sim, or we risk losing our no profit discount. Our current annual budget is $2,343 USD. The greatest expense we have is, not surprisingly, the tier payment (83%).

We also make provisions for three smaller items within that budget: a monthly fee for use of an online project management system that allows us to coordinate our ministry work with one another (which currently costs us $20 USD per month or circa 10%), a fee to increase facilities on our blog (costing $30) and a $10 USD per month miscellaneous line item to cover any incidental expenses we incur. We have reserves to last us into May 2019, but we may have to downsize after that if funding does not pick up. [top]

What happens about exchange rates?

Donations are converted into USD at the time we pay tier. Exchange rates vary and are outside our control. [top]

Isn’t Linden payment a big loss?

There is money lost in fees whether donations are in Lindens or other ways. Fees are paid to convert your currency to Lindens and for us to convert Lindens to dollars. The money has to go through PayPal which also incurs a fee. The contingency in our budget helps to cover this expense. [top]

There was a small commercial area here a couple of years ago. What happened to it?

No one used it, and as the SL Marketplace increased in popularity it was deemed useless. What people can do is allocate some of their Marketplace profits to the Cathedral. We have several people who do that. It brings in a small, but helpful income. [top]

What if Tier is not met?

One of the responsibilities of the Leadership Team is to deal with the finances. This is currently covered by Helene since our treasurer left the Leadership Team, but it would be helpful to have someone with a good financial head to take on this responsibility. If it became obvious we would not meet our target, we would need to inform the community in good time, in case they could donate extra. Otherwise we would need to downsize in good time to prevent the sim just disappearing on non-payment of tier. [top]


Technical

Can a literate amateur run the content management system for the blog and website?

Yes. Ana Stubbs is our churchwarden and can help train anyone taking on technical tasks. [top]

What is Basecamp?

Basecamp is a website and app we use to stay in touch on the Leadership Team. It is designed to help project management for remote-working teams. Most of our work is done via Basecamp as the Leadership Team is spread across the globe. [top]

How do the colors of the altar and reading stand get changed?

We have an in-house tool to do that with a HUD inworld. [top]


Volunteering

Is there a volunteer group started yet?

We are just taking names at the moment; there is no group as such yet. We have in the past used part of Basecamp as a place for volunteers to work as a team and that will happen in the future also. We hope that the group of volunteers will be added to over the coming months. Indeed, anyone can volunteer at any time. There is a box with a volunteer notecard in it inside the cathedral door on the left. Please spend some time reading about the various teams so that you know what’s involved https://slangcath.wordpress.com/the-teams-2/ [top]

So, do we just wait till someone will contact me?

We are sorry about the delay in letting people know if they will be doing various jobs, but it will take a little time. We will get in touch. The aim is to talk to each person individually, to listen to what they now think they would like to do and to suggest what we think it would be helpful for them to do.

Some volunteers have not been very involved in our community so far. They may spend the first few months raising their profile, perhaps welcoming as a start, before taking on more tasks. Every role will have a trial period of three months so that both the volunteer and the Leadership Team can find out how things are going and whether a person is comfortable in a role. [top]

Do you have to have a human avatar to be a Cathedral Welcomer?

No: you only need to be human for things like leading services, pastoral care, or preaching. It’s good to make ‘non-humans’ feel welcome too. Our church warden is a mermaid. Anything she can do, you can do with a non-human avatar. [top]

I leave the house at 7 and come back at about 7 and have to go to bed at 9. Is there is anything I can do?

It’s better to start off small rather than get burnt out later on. We need to keep things sustainable. Don’t be worried if you can only volunteer for a little. Every little bit helps. [top]

Time zones don’t matter if your role involves doing stuff in the background. If people have a little time we need a team of welcomers who spend a bit of time on the sim in case people turn up and want to find out more. People in a Welcoming Team could have a roster so that only one was on at a time. Just don’t over stretch yourselves. In the past we have left welcomers to simply ‘loiter with intent’ when they have the time, perhaps doing other tasks in the background. [top]

My people skills outweigh my technical skills, so what can I do to help?

Offers of help with welcoming and praying with people are gratefully received. We will discuss in the leadership team how we can get that going again. The prayer team still has a board in the cathedral and people can be paged if someone wants prayer. The prayer team used to meet to pray together. It would be good to have a co-ordinator and get that underway again.

Welcomers would just need to be equipped with some information (like a notecard) to give to enquirers, and, apart from that, just be friendly and check out what a person needs, whether that is a tour of the sim or information on where to get help with an issue. Our aim would be to have a Welcoming Team Leader to keep in touch with everyone who has volunteered to welcome.

One thing we are very firm on is that no one is deceived on Epiphany Island. We want to make sure that anyone offering counselling for instance is qualified to do so. Also, that no one appears to be a priest, nun, monk or similar unless they really are. Many people who come to Epiphany are struggling with some issue and make seek help from us. Pastoral care is something that many people can offer as well as praying with and for someone, but if someone appears to have problems that require professional help they should be encouraged to seek it in RL. [top]

When do most people visit the sim? it rarely seems to be when I’m here. Am I in the wrong time zone?

There’s no wrong or right time zone. What we have noticed is that most people visiting the sim outside of service times do so for only a short amount of time – ten minutes or so. Overall, the least busy time for Epiphany seems to be the SLT evening. [top]

Are there any regular activities in daily / weekly running of the sim?

Changing the colours on the altar and reading stand as needed – not daily, but when they change according to the calendar. Where possible, sermons are put on the blog weekly. The prayer and suggestion boxes need weekly attention. Many other items are monthly, such as notices going out. [top]

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