Closure of I-Church

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Ernest
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Closure of I-Church

Post by Ernest » Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:35 am

You will have noted the announcement that the Diocese of Oxford has decided that i-church has had its day and that after 17 years of an internet Christian Presence our witness is to end in this form.

I would like to thank so many people, but Particularly Pam our Web Pastor and Caroline whose technical skills have kept i-church up as a constant presence on the internet. i-church has changed from its original format to the current stable one, which has enabled many thousands of people, globally to visit the site, to be welcomed and in some instances to become active members.

I regret the closure, but take joy and comfort in that my growth as a Christian has been enhanced and enabled through my personal participation and the many online friendships that have developed through it. It led to licensed ministry in the CofE.

Other members or former members went on to Ordained Ministry and are now serving parishes across the country in different Dioceses. Something to celebrate I think as their vocations have been discerned and supported through their individual participation on i-church.

So, my prayers are for the continuation of the i-church spirit of online participation through other forums on the internet and social media which has developed so widely since the Advent of i-church's vision, 17 years ago.

Thanks be to God for the original inspiration and determination which allowed i-church to become a force for good in crowded Christian presence on the internet. :votive1: :votive1: :votive1:
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Joe Parrish
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Closure of I-Church

Post by Joe Parrish » Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:31 am

Thanks,Ernie, for your continued presence and ministry. May we meet up again in Jolly Old sometime soon.
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Closure of I-Church

Post by rogerjames » Sun Nov 07, 2021 5:38 pm

Sorry to hear this news, Ernest.
My good wishes and thanks to the team that made it happen.
As St Benedict put it: "Always we begin again!"
Roger
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Good Words are worth much, and cost little. George Herbert
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Closure of I-Church

Post by Joyce » Mon Nov 08, 2021 7:56 am

Ernest,you point out many of i-church's accomplishments over the years. Spot on.
It fulfilled its role splendidly.
It was right for the times and times move on, but I have the feeling its job isn't entirely over.
I'm sad to see it go just yet. I pray for a replacement where there are niche needs it could still meet.

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Ernest
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Post by Ernest » Tue Nov 09, 2021 4:59 am

I understand that we are unable to continue under the current umbrella of i-church as part of the diocese of Oxford. But I think that individuals have a presence elsewhere on social media, so we can perhaps keep in touch with each other via that means. I do hope so.

I just find that I will miss visiting daily and the occasional interactions with visitors and other members and the discussions that can arise as well as the prayer opportunities. There is no substitute for community, whether online or in RL.
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Post by Joyce » Tue Nov 09, 2021 12:02 pm

Agreed, Ernest.
If you set up a group there'll need to be some way of letting it be widely known about, especially as there are users who don't visit more than a few times a year and might not know about the closure in time. Perhaps some mention of the closure - and the community's wish to continue itself by other means - to the BBC Religious Affairs Dept and the World Service would be useful. It's where we learned of i-church's existence in the first place. Some Church newspapers and magazines plus The Times and the Telegraph could do with being informed.

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Closure of I-Church

Post by rogerjames » Tue Nov 16, 2021 1:52 pm

Ernest wrote:
Tue Nov 09, 2021 4:59 am
I understand that we are unable to continue under the current umbrella of i-church as part of the diocese of Oxford. But I think that individuals have a presence elsewhere on social media, so we can perhaps keep in touch with each other via that means. I do hope so.

I just find that I will miss visiting daily and the occasional interactions with visitors and other members and the discussions that can arise as well as the prayer opportunities. There is no substitute for community, whether online or in RL.


I can't speak for the Diocese of Oxford, Ernest, but the mood in our group is confused and unsettled. We have lost our Rector and the vicarage is to be sold. Some kind of wider group team structure is talked about but shows little sign of coming together yet. I am told we have had zero pastoral or management support for the ministry team from the diocese. Vocations are down, clergy and lay ministers are aging, retired priests are doing what they can. Frankly, to the outsider it has all the makings of a major mess. Some parishes are muttering about withholding their parish share as they feel they get little or nothing in return. We will have to come up with a radical and workable solution if the situation is to be salvaged. But what?

One might argue that given such a plight and with Covid still with us it is more important than ever to have some form of "virtual outreach", but what do I know? I'm just a grunt in a pew with a computer!
Roger

:blink:
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[Outlandish Proverbs No 155]

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Ernest
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Post by Ernest » Wed Nov 17, 2021 5:22 am

Roger your group are suffering the malaise that is affecting many of us. In our Deanery we have had several churches without an incumbent for a while. Now two without incumbents are to be made into a joint benefice with another who has a very good Incumbent, who has grown his church since he was ordained from a Reader role specifically for this failing Church. He turned it around completely serving his curacy there, and because of that success is being given the two vacant parishes to look after. He will be supported by a retired Priest who has kept on of the parishes running for the past 12 months, but now needs to step back as he has a further active role as a Chaplain for Mental Health across two boroughs. We have a retired priest in our benefice who helps us out, and does also help the parishes in vacancy, but he is 85 years old, and while willing is increasingly frail.

We are fortunate to have a youngish, active incumbent, but he is already overstretched by additional roles and helps out where he can in the Deanery, but realistically he struggles to get his Annual Leave fully and of course he has a family to support. His spouse has a role as a commissioned Anna Chaplain, is in the choir and runs the Children's group and administers the Parish Hall. So fully committed.

We have difficulty finding volunteers since the pandemic. Many older ones are no longer fit enough to carry on, and younger people seem to be to busy with family, work to come forward. Some of our vital roles are carried out by people in their seventies, like me as the Reader in the parish.

We have hope though, we have some new young families joining. Baptisms are increasing and we had ten confirmed just four weeks ago. It takes time to rebuild and we have now resumed the full range of in person services and the attendance is increasing as people become more confident to come to services and parish out reach activities like our Coffee Mornings and Lunch Club.

And we are just about financially viable. We had a hard time during the first lockdown and had to reduce our parish share payments due to lack of income, but now Hall Hire have resumed a vital stream of income. Collections are slowly coming back up, and will hopefully increase as more return to church. But of course everything is increasing, our energy costs in particular, heating a draughty Victorian building is expensive and increased in Winter. We managed to do many repairs in recent months to keep us watertight, particularly the roof. But loads more is needed.

We are not alone in this, others share our problems and no doubt we will have more ups and downs in the Deanery, we just have to hope and pray that we are able to work through them. :votive1:
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Post by rogerjames » Thu Nov 18, 2021 1:24 pm

In today's verse of RSB we are cautioned against "murmuring" - but it's exactly the word that applies to the despairing state of mind in many parishes.
http://archive.osb.org/rb/text/rbemjo2.html#40

I shall allow myself a hemina of wine this evening! :biggrin:
Roger
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Post by Joyce » Fri Nov 19, 2021 5:50 pm

I agree 100% with anyone for whom i-church was important because it was a function of the CofE. The BBC called it 'The parish of the air' even in comedy panel games, let alone on the news or in religious programming. It was 'official' and still is for as long as it lasts. The CofE is what my father used to call 'a proper church' when it isn't always obvious to newer Christians that the teaching and worship methods in other denominations are sound.
I am sorry for those who'll have no alternative. It's true many B and M churches are online now and there are parish,cathedral and CofE general mainstream services available, both live and recorded, on youtube or facebook.There will nevertheless be i-church members for whom using those facilities will only be like being on the outside looking in, or for whom they hold little or no interest.
For all sorts of reasons not everyone wants a connection with a B and M community or can't have one even if they do. If i-church has been their home church for up to seventeen years and there's nowhere else for them,it is going to be a great loss.

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Post by Ernest » Sat Nov 20, 2021 5:25 am

I am in a B&M Church, but have changed that Church once since I joined i-church following the debacle of the discernment process in 2012 when I went to BAP and got a NO for training for Ordained Ministry. I changed diocese at the same time.

I have always felt that i-church was the place I came to when I first became an Anglican in 2008 and wanted to learn more about the Church of England, and I found it a great educational resource, particularly when I had online conversations with i-church members. I don't believe that this has been a waste of my time, i-church will always hold a special place in my heart, I was supported throughout my discernment journey and the subsequent journey to become a licensed Reader.

I am thinking carefully about setting up a private forum on a facebook Group, where I administer several groups or pages, but I have to work out if I have the time to do this as I am already full on with my B&M Church commitments, editorship of our Parish Magazine and also membership of Deanery Synod as well as caring for Jen, although she is over her stroke, remains quite fragile, although she would not admit it to me. She has told me that she will retire after Christmas, 2022, when she will be 70? I had to admit I have been pestering her to retire since her stroke, but she is firm about it is her decision and she will retire when she is ready and not before.

I will decide in the next week what to do about this. And pray for some inspiration. :votive1: :votive1:
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Post by Ernest » Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:00 am

I have decided against starting a facebook group for refugee's from i-church, I don't have the time with so many commitments, and one more group could prove to be overwhelming.

If someone else feels like taking it on, I would be happy to be a member and supporter, if I have the time, mainly early morning as later things get a little hectic.

I'm sad about this, but have to accept the limitations on my time, doing to much could cause be additional stress which I don't need just now.
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Post by Pam » Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:40 pm

There are many online manifestations of ‘church’, both n Facebook and elsewhere. However, we can’t have a continuation of i-church elsewhere, because i-church is strongly identified as part of the Diocese of Oxford. It is, of course, possible to find people if you want to be in touch via social media.

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Post by rogerjames » Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:45 pm

Pam wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:40 pm
There are many online manifestations of ‘church’, both n Facebook and elsewhere. However, we can’t have a continuation of i-church elsewhere, because i-church is strongly identified as part of the Diocese of Oxford. It is, of course, possible to find people if you want to be in touch via social media.
Any such activity demands a lot of thought, perseverance, and commitment of time. And on top of that is managing your constituency - which is always the tricky of the exercise - the vulnerable humans and the "spoilers". I've been doing a weekly scientific e-newsletter for 25 years - hopefully diligently and thoughtfully - and it takes up a day or two of my week to collate, edit, proof read and mail. I can't believe how quickly it is opened by readers and how relatively little aggro it gets [I should not say that!] but you do need to be methodical and reliable. Like clockwork.

Roger
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Post by Caroline » Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:17 pm

I just wanted to let you all know that the sites will be closing from next Tuesday, 30th November. :neutral:

:hug: to everyone.
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Post by Pam » Thu Nov 25, 2021 1:46 am

Thank you for doing such a wonderful job of designing our sites and keeping them open, Caroline. It’s a real ministry of hospitality.

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Post by Ernest » Thu Nov 25, 2021 5:13 am

All who have contributed to i-church over the years are to be congratulated, but Caroline and Pam deserve a special accolade for their patience in dealing with issues as they arose and the way in which i-church was transitioned from the old site to the new, which went smoothly with a clear focus on the Mission and Ministry of i-church and caring for all who come with problems they shared and the empathy and fellowship offered.

i-church has been a unique and special place of safety and shared worship over the years. Oxford Diocese may believe our time as come to a natural end, but I wonder if the thousands who have visited over the years would agree. I accept that the decision is final, but don't have to like it.

Prayers for the continuation of the spirit of i-church in the Holy Spirit in peoples hearts and minds. :votive1: :votive1: :votive1:
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Post by Caroline » Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:42 pm

I've been checking on the forums at least twice a day* - first thing in the morning, and last thing at night - for over 13 years. It's going to be very strange not doing it any more!

* 6 days a week - I always reserved the right to have Saturday off!
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Post by Joyce » Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:30 pm

You are right, everyone. Breaking the i-church habit will take some doing for many of us.
It's an ingrained part of life and its absence will take some geiing used to.
There hasn't been a day since they let me in - there used to be a waiting list to join - when i-church was on its second pastor, Russell, that I haven't been checking the forum, usually several times. Before then it was the occasional phone call with our first pastor, Alyson. In 2003/04 it was generally thought having a web pastor was keeping up with changing times. How times have changed. <insert sarcasm/irony emoji >
Here's a reminder of how seriously the concept of an online presence used to be taken

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3704205.stm

How it feels if one is the web pastor, the techie or otherwise fundamental to the running of it is hard to even imagine. I want to express sympathy as well as thanks.

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Post by Ernest » Fri Nov 26, 2021 5:48 am

That is a blast from the past indeed. When you go through the opening page, the mission intent was obvious and open. The aspirations to be a welcoming community for all comers actually mirrors the ethos adopted by my B&M parish. Which I wrote a couple of years ago. I knew I had inspiration from i-church on that occasion.

I remember my time at BAP where I did a presentation on i-church and the hostile questions asked by some who scoffed at the idea of an online worshiping community, and my defensive reaction to them. Which was quoted as part of them giving me a NOT suitable for training for Ordained Ministry.

I was proud of my membership (and still am) of i-church and couldn't understand their resistance to the idea. But now the boot is on the other foot, most B&M Churches, including mine are Live Streaming or recording services for broadcast. Those who scoffed at the time and went forward and were ordained have had to adapt to the internet and tap into skills they did not have. I know that some parishes were unable to live stream and has suffered as a consequence, I hope that now they realise the essential nature of a Christian presence on social media - the original purpose of our presence here.

The CofE is pushing social media in a big way and encouraging more people to use the internet as a missional tool - which is why I am so upset about the loss of this platform, which has been so helpful to so many other the years. The support that I received here has been as good as or better than on offer pastoral care in the B&M churches I attended at that time and even now.

'I thank God for i-church and pray that it's message will not be forgotten by those who came, saw and joined. Come and See as Jesus told the disciple sitting in the tree. So, I came, I saw, and I stayed. :votive1: :votive1:
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Post by rogerjames » Fri Nov 26, 2021 12:13 pm

You all did your work for ichurch faithfully and with perseverance. It will be small comfort to you that your sadness at this decision is a reflection of the general disruption and upset being felt by the nation's parishes, and not just Anglicans - but this is the way the thinking is going. In the light of the universality of human e-socialisation these days - I'd say the closedown was indefensible, but that it is nothing compared to the wider national issues in the C of E that need to be addressed. But what do I know?
Roger
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Post by Ernest » Sat Nov 27, 2021 6:51 am

Yes, the CofE in common with many other Christian denominations has its problems, but I am glad that I joined it, I was formerly a Catholic and left thes RC Church in the eighties due to how I was treated by a certain Priest when I was in a difficult situation. I was than agnostic for nearly twenty years.

What brought me back to faith and a new Church was a major trauma involving the death of some one on military operations, where my contact with his Christian Family, and the padre who accompanied me gave me an expression of Christian fortitude that I thought had been lost. I was converted and convinced by that experience that God had more for me to do. I responded by joining the Padre's church and have never regretted that.

We as a parish have lost much, mainly people in the pandemic, but are heartened that new, young families are joining us, and 10 confirmations of mainly young people a few weeks ago. God remains working in peoples lives and some have responded with us, and no doubt with other churches as well.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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