C in W climbs aboard the ‘virtual’ Bandwagon!

Published on 28th November, 2015

Facebook and Twitter spread the Church in Wales word
( BBC News article )

The Church in Wales is urging clergy to use social media tools to help spread their message beyond the pulpit.  A guide has been published to advise them how to get the best from blogging and websites like Twitter.

Among them is the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, a user of Facebook and Twitter to share diocesan news, who also tweets for prayers.  He says social media offers new opportunities for clergy to connect with their flock.

Among others starting to use Twitter is the Archdeacon of Wrexham, Shirley Griffiths, with messages like “Rogation Sunday – too wet to go outside to bless the crops!”
She has responsibility for a third of the St Asaph diocese, and needs to find ways to connect with congregations as widespread as Deeside, Flintshire, to rural Bala in Gwynedd.

Screengrab of a Twitter message sent by the Bishop of St Asaph
Image caption Tweeting a plea for a prayer… a message from the Bishop of St Asaph

“I believe that as a church we need to be in touch with people through the media they are using,” said The Venerable Griffiths.  “By using Twitter I hope that I will, in a small way, enable people to learn something about how the church is in action in the world today.”

The Church in Wales’ guidance explains the advantages – and the possible pitfalls – for clergy trying reach their local community online.

‘Advising’

It explains how sites such as film sharing website YouTube and photo sharing website Flickr can be used effectively as part of parish life.

The Church in Wales is practising what it teaches, and has just started posting news, events and information on its own Twitter page, as does St Asaph diocese, with a pen portrait saying “sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in north east Wales”.It also uses Flickr as a way to share photos of church and parish life like photos highlighting the work of the Wrexham archdeacon.

Meanwhile, Bangor Cathedral started using Facebook a few months ago for people to “find out more about cathedral life and events”. The diocsese of Monmouth is also tweeting or sending messages via Twitter like: “Ministry and calling Sunday: Celebrate ministry. Pray for vocations”.

“We are not advising clergy to reduce the time they spend out and about meeting people in their parishes,” said the Right Reverend Gregory, who tweets as @llanelv.  “But we are keen to be part of the huge online community at our fingertips and serve those who surf.”

In April, the Archbishop of Wales urged officials to be open to “significant change” ahead of a large-scale review.