Online Activism, The Viral and The Cathedral? @changingworship

I have been involved in some interesting projects involving social media and The Church over the course of the last few weeks.  When people say “social media and the church” my first instinct is to wonder which “Fresh Expression” they are talking about.  If I am honest, it isn’t larger church bodies that spring to mind.  As a concept I tend to place it in the box in my mind where I keep ideas like the Advent Calendar Conspiracy.  However, I do like having my perceptions challenged on a regular basis and that is just what has happened.

I was asked to give some advice to our diocesan press officer about a social media presence for the diocese.  Happy to obliged and things kicked off during holy week.  Now there is an increasing network of local churches and church groups beginning to develop over on Facebook.  There is also a Twitter presence.

Whilst doing this however, I discovered that under the radar there is a growing social media presence for Wakefield Cathedral.  I stumbled upon this when news broke a couple of weeks ago that the UK government were going to add VAT to restoration work for listed buildings.  I found it quite by chance when this happened.

So I said “I had no idea that we had a YouTube channel, you kept that quiet”. 

“Neither did I, it seems to belong to the cathedral” was the reply. 

This video is in two different locations on YouTube and has now been viewed somewhere in the region of 20 thousand times!  The petition that accompanies it has been signed nearly as many times.  As it has gone a bit viral with people tweeting it here there and everywhere.  The national press coverage started to appear with the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph and airtime on local and national news.  Pamela Greener has become a bit of an overnight celebrity.

Since then I have had a good conversation with the Canon Missioner for the diocese who works at the cathedral.  A YouTube account is something they decided to try.  They thought they would give it a go and see what happens.  They are getting hits!  It began by simply putting their Sunday sermons online and wondering if anyone would look at them.  People are watching them!  I wonder who they are?

It would seem that the boxes inside my head where I keep “social media” and “the church” need to be expanded a little.

About Robb

Robb is a priest and a vicar in the Church of England. His academic interest is in liturgy, alt:worship and the emerging church and is particularly keen on exploring the sacramantal within worship. He lives in Yorkshire and has a passion for heavy metal, playing in a pub band and riding a Harley.