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Posts Tagged "Social Media":

St Paul’s Thoughts On Social Media


All Creation Sings is the blog of Gareth Hill, a Methodist Minister working at the London office of the Methodist Church as Head of Mission & Advocacy. Until September 2011 he was based in Cornwall and working to ‘do church for people who don’t do church’ on the Roseland Peninsula, just outside Truro. Gareth is a former newspaper editor and an award-winning hymnwriter. He comes from the Pontypool area of South Wales. He is as passionate about being Welsh as he is about being a follower of Jesus Christ – or should that really be the other way round 🙂

This is how Gareth introduces his blog, which I urge you to go and read. I particularly urge you to read this post, in which he imagines how the famous extract from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians might have been re-drafted to cover social media. This is the first third – it gets even better and you can read the whole thing here.

1 Corinthians 13 … the online version?

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I’ve been musing on the topic of love ahead of preaching at the weekend. The Gospel lesson is John 17: 20-26 where Jesus prays to God that those who come after him would be one, and known for their love.

It set me thinking about the many times that Internet discussions get way out of hand. So here is an adapted 1 Corinthians 13, the famous Bible chapter on love.

If I speak in the tongues of Google and of LinkedIn, but do not have love, I am a noisy ringtone or a nuisance call. And if I have blogging powers, and understand all mysteries of code and all knowledge of hashtags, and if I have all Facebook, so as to ‘friend’ many, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my PayPal balance, and if I hand over my smartphone so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.


You can read the rest here:

The image of St Paul’s statue at the Vatican is from Wikimedia

Church Of England Hashtag Revolution For Easter


The Church of England is embracing the social media revolution with zeal, nay fervour. Hooray! Not perhaps in the vanguard of the revolution, but just in time for it not to be said that the Church has missed it altogether.

The Church’s Communications office recently gathered together a group of Christian tweeters and bloggers, in itself a small step you might think, but it represents a giant leap forward. (Lay Anglicana was pleasantly surprised to be included in the gathering!).

It may, or may not, be a coincidence that this followed immediately on the assumption of office of a new Archbishop of Canterbury. Post hoc is not always propter hoc. But sometimes it is.

One of the results of this meeting was an agreed hashtag campaign for Easter: #EverythingChanges.

This is the press release from the Communications office:


“Good News in a nutshell, Cosmos in a Hashtag”
#EverythingChanges as Church Twitter campaign reaches 5.8 million at Easter

Almost 6 million people were reached by the Church of England’s (@c_of_e) Easter 2013 twitter campaign according to figures released today. Official figures from Twitter showed a cumulative reach of 5.8m users from the 8,527 tweets sent over the Easter period, from Good Friday to Easter Day, using the hashtag #EverythingChanges.

Devised by the Church of England’s Communications office with a group of Christian tweeters and bloggers, the aim of the campaign sought to highlight the Christian meaning of Easter on the social media network. Tweets were sent from across the country with a marked tone of solemnity and sorrow in tweets on Good Friday and peaking on Easter Day with tweets celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) – Research Fellow in Internet ethics at the University of Durham said: “The #everythingchanges hashtag was another great example of the Church engaging proactively with the digital sphere. To get a new ‘digital generation’ to feel welcome in Church and to hear the Christian message, using social media is crucial. Social media is a medium where all of life is lived; meaningful messages can be communicated and the Church is boldly embracing the digital world in these campaigns.”

The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt. Revd Paul Butler (@BishopPaulB) – one of a number of Bishops who took part in the campaign – said: “#everythingchanges caught the imagination of people across the county. Since we seek to share the joy of the risen Jesus that’s good news.” The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt. Revd. Dr John Inge (@BishopWorcester) added: “I’m delighted to have been able to be one of those tweeting the wonderful good news which we celebrate in the resurrection – that love wins.”

Tweets were sent from across the country from both those in the pews and those in pulpits. Trainee Vicar Liz Clutterbuck (@LizClutterbuck) said: “The #EverythingChanges hashtag encapsulated the true meaning of the Easter season and it was hugely encouraging to watch it spread across Twitter from Good Friday onwards. Young and old embraced it and used it to demonstrate to their followers of all faiths and non what the resurrection means for all.” The Revd Peter Ould (@PeterOuld) added: “#everythingchanges demonstrated the way social media can, not just help bring faith communities together, but also enable them to reach out beyond their boundaries in innovative and modern ways. In an increasingly technologically grounded generation this is the way forward for the Church of England to communicate.”

The Bishop of Hertford, the Rt. Revd Paul Bayes (@paulbayes) who also tweeted, said : “You can share good news in any medium. Twitter is no exception. It’s great that we could share the best news of all – the resurrection of Jesus Christ – in 140 characters or less, at Eastertime this year. Because of Easter #everythingchanges, for the better, forever.” The Rt. Revd Dr. Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne (@BishopSherborne) said: “#everythingchanges focuses the vast scope of the cross and resurrection. It is more than Jesus being killed and raised, or my whole life being changed. It is as big as the whole universe beginning to be transformed. Good news in a nutshell. Cosmos in a hashtag.”

NEWS from the Church of England
PR 77.13
17/4/2013 (embargoed until 22 April)

The illustration is copyright: bloomua via Shutterstock

Empire Avenue: Navigating The Moral Maze

Does Your Moral Compass Need a Work-out?

How many times a day do you find yourself making moral decisions? I am guessing that, for most of us, the answer is not very many. Empire Avenue , on the other hand, challenges us to break several commandents: the ones about not taking the Lord’s name in vain (no shrieks of ‘OMG!’); remembering the sabbath day (most of us cheerfully play on a Sunday); not coveting thy neighbour’s ox, his ass (or his Empire Avenue score); not bearing false witness (how many of us routinely give Ks to people who don’t influence us at all?); and- perhaps most seriously- not stealing. (Not you, not me, but some people do simply take the money from missions without doing what is asked of them).

As you play the game, you will be posed a series of moral questions, not once but repeatedly:

  • What are you prepared – and what are you not prepared – to do for money?
  • Would you buy shares in someone just because they offered high dividends – in other words do you treat people as means to an end or an end in themselves?
  • Will you be generous with your time and energy to help someone you know online?
  • Are you your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper?

When you have played for a while, on a consistent basis, you will either have strengthened your will power to do good and resist evil, or you will truly know yourself as someone who all too readily gives in to temptation. Are you up for the challenge?


What is Empire Avenue?

Empire Avenue is a  means of measuring one’s involvement in social media (twitter, facebook etc). It is also a game in which users buy and sell shares in people, using an imaginary currency. The first part of this blogpost, explaining about Empire Avenue for those who are not already signed up,  was on Digidisciple on 5 June. The key is in ‘Expand, engage, evaluate’: you will not continue to expand unless you constantly evaluate what you are doing and engage with other people. Each progression involves increasing your interaction with others. At its most basic level, saying ‘thank-you’ and ‘well done’ to others, commenting on their blogs and doing their ‘missions’ will increase your overall score.

Only the most basic rules are given. It is rather like learning how to play chess simply by being told the moves of the various pieces. Did you read Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull‘? He found there was no readily available set of rules, but that each apparent impasse contained its own way through.  Empire Avenue is a game that nudges you to ‘fly’, that is to say make a leap of logic, imagination or faith which will take you to the next level. Here are some hints from our seagull mentor:

“Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight – how to get from shore to food and back again…For most gulls it was not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight… Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”


Metaphor for Life Itself

Empire Avenue reminds me, more than anything, of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’. A motley group of people, who find themselves travelling together along the road of life, fall into conversation, form friendships and band together in small groups to talk and laugh and make music together.  It is impossible to imagine assembling a more diverse range of people: young and old, tall and short, fat and thin; of all races and creeds; and living in every habitable part of the world.


EAv was set up less than two years ago. I imagine that its founders did not predict the way it would become a force for good in the world. It’s the old story about the total being greater than the sum of its parts. Although there are forums on Empire Avenue itself, most of the conversation about the way this hugely diverse network operates and can be used for good takes place on Facebook.

Just in the last month, I have become involved in dicussions about how to spread awareness of environmental problems, a bid to save whales, a planned and co-ordinated system of random acts of kindness, the dangerous side-effects of Diethylstilbestrol, and female genital mutilation and forced marriage. These are all concerns of people I know on Empire Avenue, and since they concern them, they concern me. It is personal involvement. Truly this is the global village at work in a way Marshall McLuhan could scarcely imagine.



The photograph below depicts the rehearsal of  Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’; downloaded from wikimedia under licence.

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