Something interesting happened at General Convention, and even though I am not present in Indy, I have followed resolution D069 and am compelled to write about it. D069 is, in spirit and intent, a sibling resolution to A025. These resolutions read:
A025 passed by the House of Deputies: “Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church challenges every congregation in The Episcopal Church to have an effective, dynamic and current website by 2015.”
D069: “Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church challenge every diocese and congregation in The Episcopal Church to actively engage social media in its current and future manifestations.”
You may need these definitions:
GC77: the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church
Chsocm: church social media
OYP: official youth presence
Tweep: person on twitter
Before I went to sleep last night I read a Twitter conversation (yes, all conversations in Twitter are public, except for Direct Messages). It started with this proposal:
Affirmations that “testimony by Twitter” was an idea worth pursuing rolled in. Tweeps, from far and wide, listening to #GC77 conversation on Twitter, started chiming in with their thoughts about the importance of the church’s participation in social media. Now, if you think this conversation was just by young adults at convention, but you’re mistaken. Bishops, grandparents, older people proclaiming their advanced age, teenagers from the Official Youth Presence, folks from everywhere chatted about #D069 online late into the night and beginning again in the early morning. They shared their ideas in 140 characters or less. They tweeted links to their blogs where they had already written about social media’s role in the church today. Some wrote new blog posts to give information to those who would speak at the morning committee hearing.
I put my personal thoughts out there after 11pm Texas Time, using my Twitter handle @skwechter, in 140-character-or-less chunks, but I’ll kindly spare you the text-message shorthand I used:
- Episcopalians have always used available technology for evangelism.
- Social media isn’t a quirky playground, it can be used strategically.
- Church social media is as much an idea space as a coffee shop is, full of conversation between real people separated by geography and time.
- Social media puts a church/christian where people ALREADY are.
- “Willful ignorance” of social media is no longer an option.
- Demographically, the younger people TEC needs to reach often DON’T WANT to be reached by email.
- Don’t use http://episcopalchurch.org as example of socially integrated website; the only way to get info is email subscription.
- episcopalchurch.org and its email-only media releases showcase how to be completely disengaged from 2012 Cchurch social media (yes, I really tweeted that).
- There’s so much ground to cover with church social media that our churches need to be challenged to enter the social media arena.
- Wake up the Official Youth Presence to speak about church social media relevance.
- A priest friend says “I’ve done more ministry through my blog and Facebook than any other way since retiring.”
Then I went to bed.
Before I made it to my keyboard late this morning, I knew something interesting had happened, because my phone buzzed. There was a Twitter direct message from DioFW seminarian Jordan Haynie (@GodWelcomesAll); she had quoted me in testimony before the Communications Committee. Great, I thought, hopefully not the jabs at episcopalchurch.org about their frustrating lack of social media integration on their brand-spanking-new website. But I learned from following #GC77 on Twitter that something remarkable had happened in the 07:35am communications committee hearings this morning. Here are some of the Twitter conversation and before, during, and after the hearings:
@#amyphaynie #gc77 #chosm twitter allows me to be present in one committee while “listening in” on others and praying for those also.
@billjoseph “While parishes may not be on FB and Twitter, there are people on FB and Twitter who are not in our parishes”. Well said #D069 #GC77
@Conductor222 #d069 Twitter is enabling me to feel like I have a voice even though I’m not at #GC77 I have a vested interest & it helps.
@stevepankey “Our baptismal covenant challenges us to take Jesus where people are, and people are online.” #OYP at #D069 tweetup #GC77
@EPFYoungAdults #d069 what we do is talk about Jesus. The Church has always mastered communication and we need to master this media. #weneedchange #gc77
@EPFYoungAdults #d069 Episcopal generations speaks to the need for youth and elders to inform each other. #weneedchange #gc77
@episcovol My 3rd GC as an observer from my nursing chair (w 4 different babes) #GC75 #GC76-mostly bloggers #GC77 tweeters have brought it closer #D069
@Conductor222 #chsocm #DO69 #GC77 Relationships are being formed that are affecting me positively in my faith & theological development, I am inspired!
@PamelaGRW “Jesus went out into the marketplace” The marketplace right now is online. #GC77 #D069
@GodWelcomesAll Chair Sherrod: Twitter turned out more people for this hearing than we’ve had for any other. #gc77 #d069 #chsocm #benotafraid
@scottagunn @KatieSherrod3, chair of cmte, suggests that we change sign-in sheet to include twitter handles. #GC77 #GettingModern
@JosephPMathews we want to be clear that social media should not replace face2face communication. #gc77 #benotafraid #D069
@stevepankey: “Our baptismal covenant challenges us to take Jesus where people are, and people are online.” #OYP at #D069 tweetup #GC77
@EPFYoungAdults: #d069 Episcopal generations speaks to the need for youth and elders to inform each other. #weneedchange #gc77
@GodWelcomesAll Chair Sherrod just referenced trolls as she names community policing as a safeguard. #gc77 #d069 #benotafraid
@TheRevEJ No one showed up to speak against #do69 … That’s the future!#GC77
@theologybird: #D069 goes forward with motion to adopt. #GC77
@dianabutlerbass: #GC77 I’m (way) over 35, love words & nuanced ideas & I tweet! Loving that this GC is available via social media. More, please!
Being at home instead of Indy, I don’t know whether the committee needed much convincing, since they had already grappled with A025. But the committee’s decision to send D069 forward was heartening, cementing their belief in the relevance of newer communication channels to the ministry of our church. The creative way in which people of all ages from all places collaborated to fuel the speakers who awoke early to stand before a microphone in a hearing was inspring. #GettingModern #BeNotAfraid #WeNeedChange #ThingsYouWillHearMoreAboutInTEC #AndGodGrinned