Instagram filter used: Lo-fi
Photo taken at: York Minster
Instagram filter used: Lo-fi
Photo taken at: York Minster
Instagram filter used: X-Pro II
Photo taken at: St James’ Church Finchampstead
Before I even get to talking about the sessions, one interesting point to discuss about the Christian New Media conference is that they actively encouraged people to tweet about the sessions and the conference.
This seemed pretty successful such that people unable to attend the conference could keep up with what was going on. Indeed given that they were using Twitterfall to show the traffic this produced a couple of amusing moments such as the point they switched the feed to the big screen just as Mum tweeted that she was going back to doing the ironing tagged with #CNNAC11!
However the encouragement to tweet was backed up with some grumbling from people about it being frowned upon tweeting in church – the implication being that it was fuddy-duddy type attitudes to object. But is it?
It’s useful to just revisit some of the reasons churches object to tech – the most common restrictions being please turn off your phone and please don’t take pictures during the service. Both have come about from experience, for example I can think of a number of occasions where times of silence and prayer have been interrupted by a mobile phone (on at least one occasion owned by the priest) and certainly several weddings that have ended up like paparazzi photo sessions with all the flash photography. From there we got to asking people to silence their phones and not use flash, but it was pretty quickly realised that many people struggle to understand their gadgets such that they don’t know how to silence them or disable the automatic flash. As a result it’s now all phones off and no photography at all.
I’d suggest that most techies can manage to enable silent mode and disable the flash – however given that we can do that should we then be live tweeting the sermon?
To be honest I’d say no. Part of the point of a service is to provide a separate space, away from the world outside to focus on the spiritual. Certainly you may consider outside through the sermon, or the prayers, but ultimately most people there are focusing on God. As was highlighted by some of the speakers the idea of a sabbath time away from work applies just as much as a time away from the noise of the online world.
As people who experience Taizé for the first time discover, silence is a very powerful way to focus, and it is something that is little used in many services, let alone in the Christian world online.
Reading through the newly published Sonning Parish Profile includes one thing I didn’t know – the church owns the local pub! I wonder if that means the Vicar and Churchwardens get free drinks?
I’ve blogged from time to time about politics within the Church, but every so often, even at a local level, village politics and St James come into contact. In the past it’s been in relation to things like the villages memorial oaks being on church, rather than public land, and occasionally the Parish Council will use the church or our parish centre for services or events. The Parish Council also generously gives us an annual donation into church funds. However as part of our conservation appeal, alongside a number of other grant awarding bodies we applied to the Parish Council for a grant, and put in an application for what would be considered a significant amount – Â£15,000, backed up by Rev Richard personally attending the meeting to put his case for the benefits that the church building offered to the community and the village as a whole. In all honesty expected to be awarded a lot less than what we had asked for, therefore we were delighted to be awarded the full amount, but it caused a bit of a storm. The award was passed by majority of the councillors at the meeting, but one Parish Councillor who voted against the award was so upset that she has resigned her position in protest, stating that she believed the money would not be benefiting the whole community.
I’ve just had one of those evenings where nobody knows what to do, but people turn to me because I’m the Churchwarden!
When I turned up at choir practice the kids were still over in the Parish Centre on their break, so I went into the church, and there was a small creature in the middle of the floor of the north aisle. On closer examination it turned out to be a bat – and a rather inactive one at that.
Many people who have been to our church will know that we have regular visits from bats, but this one was a lot smaller – and they are usually flying around, not sat in the middle of the floor. Luckily Meg our Parish Administrator was around as well, having an additional practice with the Handbell Group. She has regular bat visits at her home, and also had a booklet of contact numbers in the office from previous problems with the bats in the church.
First off we phoned the local vets, who directed us towards the RSPCA. It is worth saying that tonight was one of the rare occasions when I didn’t have my mobile with me, as it was back at home on charge, as a result trying to speak to the person who knew about bats at the RSPCA proved to be a bit of a pain. When you phone the emergency number you get through to a regular call centre person, who then passes a message to the relevant part of the organisation. They then phone you back – the problem being that twice I didn’t manage to get to the call. No problem I thought, I’ll just dial 1471 and ring them back. That doesn’t work though as the number you dial redirects you to the same emergency number where you can only speak to the normal call centre.
Eventually I got to speak to the bat person who said unfortunately there was nobody available in our area tonight, but that they would try and come out in the morning. She then talked about some of the bat behaviour, and said that the bat would be unable to take off from a horizontal surface – they need a drop of about five feet at least to get airborne, and that if we could move the bat somewhere that had this, that would help matters. She then also suggested trapping the bat in a box and providing food and water.
So what we did was put the bat on a shelf by the 1590 door – a place that bats can get into the building – and close to the wall, and then I came home. I then went back up about twenty minutes later to find that the bat had vanished – so it didn’t seem to be too unwell – the kids took it’s inactivity as being that it was dead, I think it was just trying not to attract attention. Anyway, either it’s still flying around inside the building, or hopefully by putting it close to the door where it could squeeze through, it made it’s escape. Suffice to say there isn’t anything in the Churchwarden’s Handbook about how to deal with bats!
Update: Seems our resident bat hadn’t gone – he was back on the floor of the north aisle at a christening this afternoon. Our Director of Music who was playing for the service left the 1590 door open however and he managed to make his way outside, and climb up enough of the wall to fly away.
With my Churchwarden hat on there was a good little bit of news from the Budget today – the news that although the basic rate of income tax will be cut from 22% to 20% on April 6th (which was announced last year), they are now not going to cut the rate at which Gift Aid will be paid out – at least not for the next three years. Financially, the drop in Gift Aid income would have made a small but significant impact on our income as a Church. Just a pity that the government only got round to doing anything about the problem less than a month before the change was due to take place, once Churches and charities have spent time putting together campaigns to highlight the issue to givers – it would have saved people a whole pile of work if this had been announced months ago… Better late than never though.