So farewell then, Vimeo…

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish

I’ve been a user of Vimeo since 2009 and always thought them to be far superior, hipper and of better quality (and initially length) than YouTube. When YT was limited to 15mins, Vimeo had no such limits and the quality was always higher. They also were under the radar as far as DCMA was concerned.

I make a lot of video using material under copyright, but as they are used for the purposes of Worship, they are normally not subject to copyright restriction. The PRS explicitly say they do not pursue copyright on material used in an act of worship for which no charge is made. All my own original material is placed under Creative Commons license because… it is the Gospel and beyond such earthly limitations.

Now the algorithms which trawl YouTube and now Vimeo cannot make such a nuanced differentiation and so in no time at all I have been bombarded by DCMA copyright strikes and they will not listen to my claim of parody (in the case of some rather clever parodies created for Walsingham) or Worship (see above) and so I have decided therefore to close my Vimeo account.

If it is sermons you want, go to https://www.roborough.org.uk/sermons/

If it is worship videos, please visit https://www.agnusdei.org.uk/

Easter Benediction

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish
The tomb is empty
              But our lives are now filled with hope and expectation
The facecloth is cast aside
              But you are now invited into a new relationship
The stone is rolled away
              And a new beginning is revealed.

In the dumbfoundedness of soldiers
In the incredulity of women
In the tears of the faithful
              And in the gentle laughter of that gardener who seemed
              So strangely familiar…
There is to be found a glimmer of light.

To fall at his feel in the dewy grass very early on that first day of the week
To prostrate before his presence in the company of angels and saints, prophets and patriarchs
To kneel in front of his throne in this sacred space
Is to recognise the new light which has shone out of…
              …absence.

For death has lost it’s final grip
Sin has lost all power
Shame has been overtaken by something unseen
And yet seen enough to be burnt into woven cloth
              Impressed into unleavened bread
              Conmingled with the fruits of vine
And to be shown to the Magdalene
              To be shown to you.

Wedding Prayer

Posted Leave a commentPosted in liturgy, parish, poetry

I was asked to include this wedding prayer in a forthcoming service, but I have declined because it merely repeats vows and prayers already said. It is lovely and profound because it echoes the lovely and profound things already covered in the Marriage service. I think it is a lovely prayer to treasure, and perhaps would like to encourage you to say together on your anniversary, to remind you of that vow and covenant.

 

Lord, bless our love;
Bless our promise
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish
Each day and always.

Protect our marriage,
And keep us faithful,
So we can support and
Encourage one another
In sorrow and in joy.

Watch over our lives,
Over our home, over our family
Over our hopes and dreams.

We give you thanks
That you make us one
In a bond of love so precious
That through it
We can know your love
Today and always.
Amen.

Response to the Consultation on Bishop’s Missionary Order for Plymouth Deanery

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There is a plan for certain churches to run roughshod over the rest of the deanery of the city of Plymouth. It’s an aggressive planting strategy and it worries the rest of us. They put out a consultation document and this is what I said…


Revd Dr Adrian Hough
Exeter Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Secretary
The Old Deanery
Exeter EX1 1HS

Wednesday, 09 May 2018

Dear Adrian

Re: Formal Consultation on a Proposed Mission Initiative in the City of Plymouth

I write with some comments on the Paper circulated on 1st May 2018 which I hope will add to the discussion on the initiative which will inevitably happen.

The circumstances in which this initiative arises is the result of the continued under-investment in the Deanery of Plymouth by the Diocese: the amount per capita spent on clergy resource within the deanery compared to other deaneries is directly correlatable with the level of church engagement in the areas in question. It is worth noting that all three areas are in parishes which are currently served by a single stipendiary incumbent with little clerical, administrative or lay support. Proper investment in supporting the existing parishes and their distinct tradition, with pastoral and youthworkers rather than resetting these areas in a new spiritual direction may have been more pastoral. That both of these parishes are under the oversight of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet also leaves the impression that there is a determination to undermine the spiritual authority of the parishes.

Of greatest concern to my parish, however, is in the cavalier approach to rapacious expansion that appears to be on the cards. The issuing of a BMO for the whole deanery, and the stated intention that “the plants are determined to create more plants” places the entire deanery in jeopardy of aggressive and frankly unwelcome takeover. When these plants seek to create more plants, they will obviously start to look at other areas where the Church of England is already present and active: S. Anne’s Glenholt feels especially vulnerable by this threat. It is an area where the Church is active and present, but attractive to the kind of Church plant that looks at an area of growth and gentrification as an opportunity for takeover. Under the provisions of this document, that Church feels it will be next, with little safeguard.

The wording of the fourth paragraph of your covering letter, the second para of the Explanatory Notes and most significantly sections 8.1 and 8.3 suggest that further planting WILL happen “without the permission of anyone who has the cure of souls”. The paragraph to “consult” with the local incumbent and the Initiative “informing” the Deanery Synod cuts across the legal and pastoral safeguards established within the Church of England and destabilises the parochial system. Consultation implies no expectation of agreement.

For this reason, I must object most strongly to these two clauses, not just for the way in which they are enacted in the three areas under current consideration, but in the way that they may be misused in future. These paragraphs do not safeguard my mission in the locality to which I have been licensed.

One needs to question whether a Church Plant is the most appropriate model of evangelism for these localities. The characteristics of a Church Plant is that it imports the charism of the parent church into a new area, without responding to local need. The charism of churches from other traditions to that of the parish, from more affluent areas no matter how earnest their enthusiasm may be can be analogised with African and Asian mission in the 19th Century. A more pioneering approach, which is organic, ground-up and based not on such imperialism would ensure that it truly brought the people of Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle into a lasting relationship with Christ.

This Mission Initiative has up to this point, not really been satisfactorily consulted and discussions at Deanery Synod and Chapter has been characterised by an attitude that “this is how it is going to be”.

I rather hope that my comments, and the comments of others to whom this particular consultation has been sent will enable a thorough rethinking of a process which in Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle are properly served and rebuilt as nurturing communities confident to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely,


Revd Simon Rundell
Priest-in-Charge


 

Animated Facebook Banners (How-to)

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If you can’t quite decide one what picture you want on the big banner across your facebook group, then the animated banner is for you. Personal pages (or at least mine) will only accept still images (no video, no animated gifs) . However, it is supported for companies and other interest FB pages, it means that a bit of film can be easily incorporated into Fan Pages and it can be made very simply.

I will use Sony Vegas Pro, but many other tools are available, some for free.

You will need to create an MP4 Video of a specialist custom size: 820 x 462 pixels (w x h)

 

  1. Under File / Properties I created a new template of the size (820×462) I wanted. As most of these are still images, I could set the frame rate quite low, 15fps but if you are using a video clip, you might have to stay in the 24/25fps range.
  2. You can import your images, and lay them out around this long yet short canvas. If you want to fill the frame rather than leave lots of black border, then there will be cropping and zooming involved. Once I had an 820×462 pixel zoom window, I set it as a preset so I could quickly reuse it.
  3. Make the video between 20 and 50 secs in length
  4. When ready, do FILE / RENDER AS… and create a new output template in the new size 820×462. I usually set this template to render just video, not audio as it will be silent on FB anyway.

You can then upload your video to the banner on your FB Group page. Note: FB will then render it in their own system so this bit takes ages. In fact, I wrote this whole post in the 10+ mins it took to rerender it into an FB format. However, when uploaded you will then have an animated banner of video/images at the top of your Facebook Business or Fan Page.

 

 

You’re welcome!

Digital Baptism (a work in progress)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in parish

Notes on an essential sacrament, without which the church cannot fully be embodied in digital space. Please forgive incompleteness of this text and the lack of references but I am recording this here as a note for ruther study and reflection, as a result of attending a symposium on Sacraments in a Virtual World at S. John’s College in Durham.

Baptism is where the sacraments truly hit the road. The two primordial sacraments are already fully  established in digispace: Jesus Christ – the Word embedded across all creation is in both sacred and profane space. The church, the ekklesia exists wherever Christian community is to be found, but from these two spring the dominical sacraments and the sacraments of grace.

So, until we figure out how baptism works then we cannot envisage any of the sacraments in a digital culture. Unfortunately, all sacraments are mysteries of God, and the limitation of their grace, efficacy and means of work are limited by our imagination, language and technology rather than a limitation of the agency of God.

Some theologians (Paul Fiddes for example) argues that baptism is impossible because it is an instrument of the located church, is a once and once only sacrament although he accepts the possibility of renewal of baptismal vows online. His argument accepting a new economy of sacramental for digital Eucharist has, I believe similar currency in the new economy of baptism but as Eucharist is predicated on baptism his rejection of digital baptism kills digital Eucharist at the outset.

We therefore need to carefully consider the nature of baptism and its action to see how it might find true representation in digital space.

The key problem with most of the seven-sacramental perspective is that it is rooted in the Incarnational reality: we have always concentrated upon a visceral and corporeal faith which spoke primarily of oil and water, bread and wine, body and blood. When we move into the less concrete, everything that we once held onto becomes shaky and it is this lack of physicality that  Fiddes finds problematic despite the fact that he was quite willing to forego them in the case of Eucharist.

But what is baptism? Is it a series of physical acts or an initiation which happens most commonly to use physical acts to symbolise the work of the Spirit upon an individual, regardless of whether they actively participate in it (adult, believer’s baptism) or whether they are a (largely) passive participant as an infant. Are the physical acts the most important element here or are they a mere reflection in a concrete world of a more virtual action by God?

Indeed, are all the works of grace evidenced in the sacraments of the Church ‘virtual’ in the sense that they have no concrete form, and rely upon what Aquinas called the accidentals of physicality to embody them? In doing this, have I argued that oil and water, white robes and candles are merely external and therefore dispensable signs of a deeper function of baptism which is the working of the Holy Spirit and the welcome of a supportive Christian Community. That both of these things can be successfully represented digitally, my tentative conclusion is, at present, that baptism is indeed a sacrament that can be mediated digitally, in a digital setting for a digital community for the essential hallmarks of baptism are present and the externalised accidentals can be enacted (the liturgy of drama) within a purely (and not synthesised) digital form.

More thoughts will be posted shortly…

The Emperor’s New Church Plants…

Posted 1 CommentPosted in parish

Plymouth is currently about to have a city-wide Bishops Missionary Order (BMO) imposed without proper consultation because although there has been letters of consultation written in a spirit of consultation, the decision has clearly been already made and these unashamed Church Plants are coming, with a remit to create more plants.
Both the HTB plant in the city and these BMOs are simple clones of the Mothership with little reflection on the needs of the communities they have been cuckooed into. Their model strips other Churches of people in a massive top-funded snowball. Oh, and a BMO get you excused paying quota, so they have Mothership funding, Church Commission funding and no quota pressures. Is it not any wonder that they look all shiny?
 
Resource Churches are another bait and switch to garner central funding from the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) without playing the game. The only resourcing they are interested in is spawning their way of doing things. Actual quote: “Our worship leader will teach yours how to worship properly”.
 
The takeover of Theological Education through S. Mellitus will embed this deep into the Church of England for a century.
 
Because it is sexy, numerically beguiling (few actual converts, but look! lots of people come to our church!) and backed by SDF funding, Church Plants are going to undermine the whole Church of England and the Bishops have been seduced into letting this happen. You have to subscribe to the doctrine of church planting, but I feel like its the emperor’s new clothes story, and I am at last compelled to call out this strategy’s nakedness.
 
Pioneering, however does not come with a set agenda. It does not have the solution ready to pull off the shelf and implement. That makes it harder, but makes it more authentic, embedded. Proper pioneering should come from the opposite direction, from the locality. Unfortunately, this is less sexy, less well-quantifiable and not really capable therefore of top down funding because you can’t just throw money at it.
 
Church Plants are taking over. And there is nothing we can do about them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you
 

Blame the Vicar

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by Sir John Betjeman

When things go wrong it’s rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame,
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar.

The Vicar, after all, is paid
To keep us bright and undismayed.
The Vicar is more virtuous too
Than lay folks such as me and you.
He never swears, he never drinks,
He never should say what he thinks.
His collar is the wrong way round,
And that is why he’s simply bound
To be the sort of person who
Has nothing very much to do
But take the blame for what goes wrong
And sing in tune at Evensong.

For what’s a Vicar really for
Except to cheer us up? What’s more,
He shouldn’t ever, ever tell
If there is such a place as Hell,
For if there is it’s certain he
Will go to it as well as we.
The Vicar should be all pretence
And never, never give offence.
To preach on Sunday is his task
And lend his mower when we ask
And organize our village fetes
And sing at Christmas with the waits
And in his car to give us lifts
And when we quarrel, heal the rifts.

To keep his family alive
He should industriously strive
In that enormous house he gets,
And he should always pay his debts,
For he has quite six pounds a week,
And when we’re rude he should be meek
And always turn the other cheek.
He should be neat and nicely dressed
With polished shoes and trousers pressed,
For we look up to him as higher
Than anyone, except the Squire.

Dear People, who have read so far,
I know how really kind you are,
I hope that you are always seeing
Your Vicar as a human being,
Making allowances when he
Does things with which you don’t agree.
But there are lots of people who
Are not so kind to him as you.
So in conclusion you shall hear
About a parish somewhat near,
Perhaps your own or maybe not,
And of the Vicars that it got.

One parson came and people said,
Alas! Our former Vicar’s dead!
And this new man is far more ‘Low’
Than dear old Reverend so-and-so,
And far too earnest in his preaching,
We do not really like his teaching,
He seems to think we’re simply fools
Who’ve never been to Sunday Schools.”
That Vicar left, and by and by

A new one came, “He’s much too ‘High’,”
The people said, “too like a saint,
His incense makes our Mavis faint.”
So now he’s left and they’re alone
Without a Vicar of their own.
The living’s been amalgamated
With one next door they’ve always hated.

Dear readers, from this rhyme take warning,
And if you heard the bell this morning
Your Vicar went to pray for you,
A task the Prayer Book bids him do.
“Highness” or “Lowness” do not matter,
You are the Church and must not scatter,
Cling to the Sacraments and pray
And God be with you every day.