The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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Change is in the air

At our New Year Covenant Service yesterday, Helene made the following announcement:
 
Before we begin our service, I have some news to share with you. I have had a growing awareness for some time that I need to step back from being Lay Pastor of Anglicans of SL. Family commitments mean that I struggle to do all that I would like for this ministry. I have therefore informed the Leadership Team that I would like to retire from my position by mid-May at the latest which will be almost 9 years after I began my role. I would like to remain involved in this ministry in some way, but exactly how will be decided by the Leadership Team.
 
Obviously it’s necessary to work out what will happen in the future for AoSL. We are asking members to complete a survey so that we can find out their thoughts. This will be ready next week. We also need volunteers to join the Leadership Team and to take on some of the responsibilities of running this ministry. If the general opinion is that our ministry should cease, it will still be necessary to have a team to oversee that. Please complete the survey and prayerfully consider how you might be involved in this ministry. We will be having a series of meetings at the end of January and beginning of February when we can discuss together what might happen. Please feel free to contact any member of the Leadership Team directly if you want to discuss anything in the meantime.
 
It has been a huge privilege to lead worship here, to pray with those who need it and to lend a listening ear. I shall always be grateful for what I have been able to do. Now, if the ministry continues, it needs to be under new leadership, a team and a leader who can exploit the huge potential this ministry has to reach people with the Gospel.


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Conversation & Cake #12

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 12th May meeting. Comments made by those present are given in italics:

The evening began with a bang as fireworks exploded on the sim, courtesy of Ana. It had been my 60th birthday the day before. There was a fantastic birthday cake provided by Celberon. All very exciting. Mike managed to land in the cake but luckily  by then most people already had tasted it. Ana was a little worried about Easter (our rabbit) getting fat if Mike trailed cake all over the sim for him to eat.

 We used the normal format with me sharing news and answering questions from those present, listening to suggestions and comments. These are given in italics between the wording of the report I presented.

Beginning with finances, by the end of March we had raised 75% of our annual goal, and by the end of April 83% of that goal. As in March, that was 8% of our annual goal, approximately the correct amount for a month. However we have had months which have fallen well below that level.

(Celberon became prematurely excited at this point).

Cady had set the target last month at L$131778 of which we raised L$83690. The target for this month has been set at L$179866 which is approximately $694.46 US, £452.30 or €534.94. We had raised 4% of this before the service today, L$8714. As you can appreciate, this would normally not be a good place to find ourselves in financially as our tier has to be paid if we want to continue as a ministry. However, I have some good news. We recently received our bill and we have been returned to the non-profit level of tier, which means a 50% reduction in tier. We now only have to pay $1770 US each year instead of $3540 US, an amount we can easily pay.

At this point there were lots of expressions of celebration including some Alleluias from Ana which startled Abinoam, causing laughter all round.

I have removed the thermometer which tracks donations. It seems unnecessary as the monthly target on donations fonts plus monthly report on finances at C&C should be adequate.

Abinoam asked how we had lost our non profit status in the past. I gave a  brief outline at the time but perhaps the easiest way to give a comprehensive answer is to quote from a document I wrote as we were putting together our budget for June 2011-May 2012:

 “In the first two years of owning its own island, the AoSL group benefited by having its tier fee paid by Mark Brown. Obviously this gave the group a wonderful opportunity to get established. As a result of this, fundraising in world was extremely low key with a simple donation box which stated how much had been given and by whom (this was later changed so that the names of donors were not shown). There were no targets as there was no need. On the other hand, we had a fund raiser on the Team (Craige Gravestein) who was hoping to acquire grants for funding. The early vision was to have at least one paid post and grant money would be needed for this. As we do not have charitable status, no grant awarding body would take us seriously. Craige stepped down when RL commitments became more time consuming. Continue reading


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Meet FRED, our survey

At a recent Conversation and Cake, Ana Stubbs suggested that we should have a survey of our community, Anglicans of Second Life. Not only that – she foolishly volunteered to write the survey and analyse the results!

Anglicans of SL has conducted two surveys in the past. One was brief, in July 2008, concerning times for worship and what style of worship should be offered. During Lent 2009 we conducted a very ambitious survey which could be completed online but which was enhanced by real time discussions on Epiphany Island. Our efforts generated a large amount of data about the demographics of our community, our worship, pastoral care and fellowship, prayer and spirituality, evangelism and outreach, and community involvement. We also examined our corporate life in the light of the Seven Marks of Healthy Churches.

Although early results from the survey were available in April 2009, it took us until April 2011 to generate and publish more detailed ones (not very good on our part!). However, even before publication, ideas from the community discussions had been informing our decision making as a Leadership Team. We may not have implemented everything that was suggested but we are still seeing the ripples from the impact made on our life as a group by those who took part in any way in our 2009 survey. There are ideas in the report on the discussions we had which can yet still help us to decide where to direct our energies. Continue reading


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Conversation and Cake #9

Below is a report on Conversation and Cake #9 which took place from 1-2.30pm SLT on Sunday 20th January. 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. Standard text is my input and italic text contains the additional content provided by the community in conversation.

It took some time to gather everyone so that we could begin the conversation. I blamed the cake being too tasty. Ana thought it might be better this time as she didn’t sit on it. This brought back memories of soggy cake for Freezing. Ana did manage to threaten Freezing’s cake this time when she returned to her pool with splash. He protected it by burying it deeper in his inventory.

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.

Freezing suggested discussing Klingons but was silenced by a whap from Czari who promised to keep him in order!

Beginning with finances, last month I said we were not doing too badly. I think we have to recognise that currently we are certainly not doing too well! At the end of November, which was half way through our fundraising year, we had raised 43% of our annual goal. This resulted in Cady raising the monthly target in December to L$100416. Once again we fell short of our target, meaning that the monthly goal for January is now L$107402. By the end of December we had raised 49% of our annual goal – L$531361 out of L$1068375. When I took a look earlier in the day we had raised 6% of the January target i.e. L$6937. The date is 20th January which means we would anticipate having around 40% of our target already raised. Things don’t look good but we still have until the end of May to raise what we need.

Hagestolz asked an interesting and helpful question: How much would everyone have to give to reach the target? It’s a little difficult to decide who might class as ‘everyone’. Our current membership of the Anglicans of SL group is 544, but many of those are not active or certainly not regular visitors to the sim. We have in around 20-30 people attend the main service on Sundays. The composition of that number varies so we could probably say we have around 50 regular members, and maybe a similar number who are occasional visitors. I did some rough calculations during C&C but have now returned to the budget to give a more informed answer.

Our budget for the year is $4125 US which should cover our costs with possibly a few dollars left over. We entered the year with a surplus of $75 so for ease of calculation let’s work on $4000 US for the year. If we have 50 regular members, they are the ones who are likely to donate to our ministry. That means each would need to donate $80 US over the year. That is approximately 60 Euros or 50 Pounds or 522 Swedish Krona a year.

Czari reminded us that payment can be made by PayPal as well as inworld in the donations fonts and baskets.

I was asked in a private message why we don’t move to a smaller area in SL. We have considered this but really having a full sim gives us the control we need to keep it safe from griefers and allows enough people to gather. Obviously, if we really couldn’t raise the money we need, we would have to reconsider. There was some dark muttering about the withdrawal of the discounts for non-profit organisations which has hit several groups. Continue reading


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Conversation and Cake #8

The community met for Conversation and Cake on Sunday 9 December. 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. Below you can read what I conveyed to those present and the responses/discussions in italic. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion by adding your comments. We like to hear from members of our community.

This Conversation and Cake is rather late in happening. November passed in something of a haze due to my father’s death. I found myself doing just what absolutely had to be done, and much of that was at the last minute. Hopefully things will be better in future months.

Beginning with finances, we are not doing as well as we would hope to do but are not too far from our targets. I recognise that this is a time when people are spending a lot on gifts and so on, which is inevitably going to impact on giving to our ministry. By the end of November we had raised 43% of our annual goal, 7% short of where we should have been after six months of donations. As we only raised 69% of the November goal, Cady has increased the monthly target which is now L$100416. When I looked before the noon service we had raised L$3064, 3% of our needs for the month of December. So many churches in SL have had to close, merge or move to smaller pieces of land. We are really fortunate to be able to keep going as we are despite the recession hitting many people. Our continued survival is due to your generosity, so thank you. Continue reading


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A further discussion on online sacraments

Some time ago there was a lot of discussion about online sacraments. This has begun again as a result of a survey which you might like to take part in: http://shipoffools.com/features/2012/experiment_in_online_communion.html

There is also an article on the topic here: http://liturgy.co.nz/twitter-communion/10347 with links to other material on the topic.

Our position as a ministry at the Anglican Cathedral in SL is that we do not offer online sacraments.

Helene Milena – Lay Pastor


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Survey results Part 2

In the process of the survey we were given many good ideas about what members of our community would like to see being offered in addition to what was offered at the time, and how we could improve what we offered. Below is the list of ideas and each has a note of where we have responded (in italics), if we have done so. Obviously this survey was conducted two years ago and so not everything would be exactly the same as if we were to ask the questions today. If you have ideas which you would like us to consider, do let us know. We are always pleased to hear from you.

SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVICES

General:

  • For Anglicans, liturgy arguably reflects doctrine.  If the Cathedral is ‘branded’ as being the Anglican Cathedral in SL, then in my view it has an onus to be faithful to the liturgical tradition.

All our liturgies are either published Anglican liturgies or follow the format of a Service of the Word, which is acceptable in Anglican churches.

  • Use of agreed upon forms of service

Any worship leader must agree the format of services used with the Leadership Team.

  • Have a default service that someone can step in and lead if leader doesn’t come
  • More services

Since this survey was undertaken we have increased the number of regular services offered significantly.

  • More variety across the Anglican tradition-spectrum

We offer a wide variety of special services at points in the Church year, particularly in Holy Week.

  • Use chapel more

The chapel is used twice on most days for the daily offices.

Continue reading