The Anglican Diocese of Waiapu in New Zealand may be one of the most recent to join the trend of exploring online church. OMGod Church has a webpage, a facebook page (267 people), and a youtube channel. Bishop David Rice, Bishop of Waiapu, officially opened OMGod Church on 29 July 2010. Since then there have been 18 reflections. That’s a reflection about every 4-5 days. I’m not quite convinced by its claim that it is the “first social networking cyber church in the entire Anglican Communion”. Others may wish to make this claim or suggest other cyber churches in the comments. Certainly the Anglican Church in Second Life springs to mind. This was presented at the Lambeth Conference in 2008. And I have been discussing here the possibility of cyber sacraments, and encouraging churches to go online more. OMGod so far appears to be limited to “reflections” – an important discussion is: what are all the elements needed in a church, and how much of that can be provided and/or complementary online.
Facebook’s Bible page, created by now-in-Australia, ordained-in-New Zealand, Mark Brown, has over 5 million members. The associated intercession page has over 200,000 members. Mark Brown’s page has 22,433 people (the normal friends page has a limit of 5,000, so he is using a public page) – is that the highest for anyone in the Anglican Communion? Marks youtube videos can get 50,000 or so views. My own online chapel here has readings, reflections, the daily office, and a place to light candles. It is used by thousands. The Liturgy twitter has about 80,000 followers. We have to move with the times. I am not sure what OMGod Church intends with its title. I know that a church in Albuquerque, NM launched their college ministry (church on a college campus for college students) with the WTF banner shown (worship; teaching; friends). It was the talk of the campus. Some assume that the church is always out of touch. There were tweets of “this is what happens when churches don’t stay up on current trends.” In fact that church is very much up with the times, and its WTF went viral. This college ministry is apparently strong, vibrant, relevant, and other students continue to refer to it. For some, of course, this church went a step too far. Their url is wakeWTF.com, their Twitter handle is @WTFisWake and their Facebook page is Facebook.com/WTFisWake.
I congratulate Waiapu Diocese with starting OMGod Church. This is tempered by the thought that every diocese should have a vibrant online presence. In fact every parish, church, and ministry unit should have such a presence. WordPress, facebook, youtube, and other such platforms, make such a presence exceptionally easy to start and to maintain.