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View on the Camino

On his website, Bishop Kelvin Wright described being with his daughter for Christmas in a township with “playgrounds everywhere and four new primary schools, each with a roll of over 700 children, and an impressive new high school has just finished its first year.” In trying to see where they would go to church for Christmas, if you wanted to go to an Anglican Church, you had to know that this was part of a parish 12 kilometers away which “has a static web page that hadn’t been updated in a while, …and anyway, had no mention of Christmas service times… So it was, that for the first time in 45 years I didn’t attend an Anglican service on Christmas Day.” [Read more of his post here].

My response to Bishop Kelvin included

I really wish your critique of Anglican online presence and the ability of Anglicans to offer quality worship within a contemporary timeframe surprised me, but, after a decade of offering free advice on how to be online in a simple way, and many decades of energy expended in how to run services well, I can only conclude: often, Anglicans just don’t want to do those things.

Some have, of course, followed the suggestions – with spectacular results.

I recently happened to visit the website of an Anglican cathedral. It has not been updated since announcing that The Feast of the Transfiguration is a major feast in the Christian year appointed for observance on Sunday August 6, 2017! Read my lips: that means, like the parish Bishop Kelvin was writing about, not even Christmas services were publicised.

Excusing small congregations during a holiday period is part of the church’s standard narrative – people are away. But those “away” people are somewhere – with New Year resolutions, time to reflect, issues to address, seeking new, different, and interesting experiences, and more time. Remember the days when there was information about the local church in the motel brochure, at the Information Centre, and on camp-ground notice boards? If that’s too difficult now, why is there mostly such a poor online presence?

I can only conclude: often, Anglicans just don’t want to do things – like be online in a simple way.

I was traveling recently. Staying at A, I realised that on Sunday morning I could go to church in A, or travel some way to B and go to church there, or even make it to C for a service there.

C had absolutely no web presence – not even on the diocesan website. B was mentioned on the diocesan website, but I had no way of knowing if its information was up to date, or if services varied through the January holiday period, etc. The church at A had a simple, one-page website. Attractively, it gave the service time, the date (so I knew it was up to date), a line about the focus of the service, and a couple of other bits of information. Clearly, each week the page is changed. It probably takes a few minutes to do. When I spoke to the priest about it after the service, I was informed the site is free.

Simple. Free. Effective.

I can only conclude: often, Anglicans just don’t want to do those things.

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image: my photo on the Camino 2015

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4 Responses to Rambling

  1. For my children’s generation and the one that comes after them if it doesn’t exist online it doesn’t exist at all. This is the generation that doesn’t have a landline and for whom CDs and DVDs are quaint, antique technology. Who do most of their shopping online, regularly communicate with their global network of friends online, whose entertainment staples are Netflix and spotify. They have no use of newspapers or television news, although they do listen to the National programme on I❤radio. Whose phones are always at hand. Who, when the builder asks where they want the cabling to run in their new home, reply “cabling? Who uses that anymore?”

    These are not unusual people. This describes pretty much all the parents of pupils in those 4 schools (actually, as I’ve found out since, It’s 5) The church is not being ignored by them. It is absolutely invisible to them.

    Of course there are other, even bigger issues about preaching a Gospel formulated in medieval and renaissance cultures to one which is evolutionary, relative and quantum, but that’s a whole other discussion.

  2. Might it be that most parishes are just local clubs now where the members aren’t really interested in possibly attracting anyone new who might discomfort their little inner circle of friends of Jesus?

    An updated webpage, FB page, etc, are too close to evangelism. A comment posted at the Good Venerable’s website yesterday has a link to a US article about Canadian parishes that suggests that mainstream Christians aren’t really interested in evangelism, which is why only conservative congregations are growing.

    • Thanks, David. I think the club-paradigm is bitingly close to the truth – and I have in mind at least one post in the future which will explore quite a (threatening-for-some?) different paradigm. Of course, many are worried that club membership is aging and numbers falling – who will care for the pretty clubhouse then? If a particular clubhouse closes, often the members don’t look for another clubhouse to go to. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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