More specific guidelines concerning General Convention prayer moderation
“THE FINE PRINT” – specific details regarding guidelines and moderation.
We hope what we wrote in our main posting on our aims is clear enough to most, but as often happens in chat-based media, anonymous persons come in and don’t follow guidelines. This reflects more on the chat medium than the church. Unfortunately, it does mean we’ll need to moderate the web-based chat with some guidelines for those for whom the above isn’t “specific enough.” Responsible use of media entails proper moderation.
Our basic description of the goals, as we hope you have read on the page describing our intent, is as follows:
The purpose here is to pray for God’s Will to be done. We hope that liberals and conservatives alike will come to pray. For the sake of preserving an atmosphere of peace, we hope that prayers posted will not presume or ask for any particular outcome, nor preach on any hot-button issue. Let’s bathe the General Convention in prayer, draw close to Him as we might and trust God for truth, clarity, and courage to face the future. We hope these guidelines are clear enough.
In considering prayer, we can keep in mind Luke 11:11-13 (ESV):
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
When we pray for TEC’s General Convention, we want to call as large a number as possible together for prayer. In doing so, we wish to foster an atmosphere of agreement and communion as His children, and to discourage prayers which are likely to either offend, or whose intent is not shared by all Trinitarian Christians.
Please remember that a unity amongst those praying will foster a more prayerful attitude in all.
Therefore, let us not pray for any specific outcomes of resolutions for General Convention in our public prayers. Rather, what we can pray for, with which all should agree, are:
[please note, these are things which are particularly in need in the situation amongst all Anglicans in the US, but are also in need in the rest of the Communion]
– that the will of God be done
– God’s presence at General Convention, and wisdom for the delegates and all present
– healing; that God would bring peace and remove any blindess or recalcitrancy caused by bitterness or past wounds
– a spirit of forgiveness, enabling God’s light to be more apparent, and His work to be better enabled
– a greater understanding of God’s infinite love, which casts aside fear
We can pray for these things for the Convention proper, but also for the whole of The Episcopal Church, the whole Anglican Communion, and for the entire body of Christ. These are things we all need urgently.
Please also remember that we pray “vertically” – to God – and it is not the purpose of our prayers to send implicit messages to others (“horizontally”).
Remember, in your private prayers (not what you type in chat or twitter), you may pray as God leads you. But we ask you to abide by these guidelines when using the twitter hashtag we’re using, or participating in the Second Life / chat prayer. We probably will not even attempt to “moderate” Twitter since we can’t – all that can be done is asking people to read and respect these guidelines, and they indeed may choose not to. They may even find it arrogant for us to “claim” a specific purpose for a hashtag – so we can not demand of anyone in Twitter that they respect these guidelines, we can only request, and if they refuse, there is nothing we can do.
So we wish to pray for things all Anglicans and Christians can agree on – focusing on God’s will, wisdom, and healing especially. Specifically we’d also ask to avoid words like “inclusive,” or even “biblical values” (words that to various parties will be seen as carrying “agendas” and therefore will not promote unity amongst those praying). Please also refrain from public prayers regarding issues which are divisive in the Communion at this time – such as sexuality, ecclesiology, law suits, etc. etc..
In chat prayer and Second Life, we must also consider the relevance of chat culture and the reality of where chat media tend to bring us. I.e., there is a danger in chat media that are unmoderated, that things get entirely out of hand, since people of various intentions can log in anonymously, and may disrupt. This is especially the case in the Communion at the moment with such heart-felt disagreements. It sometimes even occurs that people come in “roleplaying” a particular “type” of person they wish to villify – e.g., appearing to be a “fundamentalist” and then launching into unseemly screeds. Or doing the same, pretending to be a “liberal.” For this reason, chat and Second Life * will * be moderated. We will try first to issue a warning to those who are not upholding these guidelines, asking them to first read the guidelines; afterwards it will be up to us whether to remove those who have been warned from the chat space or the Second Life area.
TEC people, remember people from other provinces who object to some of the things some TEC leaders are doing, may be present; respect them by refraining from prayers for specific provisions, and from thanks and praises for certain things. All of us can simply pray that TEC is provided for according to God’s will, with what it needs. All of us can thank and praise God for His promises to provide for us.
People who disagree with much of what some TEC leaders are doing: please respect the TEC people, as many believe that their leaders following God’s will; refrain from phrasing prayers in a manner that implies that TEC is not following God’s will. But all of us can pray for wisdom and that God’s will IS done in TEC.
And we certainly can all agree in asking God that He provides for the needs of TEC, that He bring wisdom, that His will be made known, and that those in TEC follow it. We can pray for all of these things for the church as a whole, for its leaders, and for its laypeople.
Please note also: the chat or SL place set aside for prayer is also not the appropriate place for discussing moderation. Those remarks may be left in comments here, below.
Please also keep in mind that it is a well-recognized practice in chat moderation when someone oversteps guidelines, is asked to read the guidelines, and then oversteps those guidelines, for that person to be removed from the chat room. Frequently, they simply re-read the guidelines after having been removed, and log back in, with a different username, and try to comply more with the guidelines. If you yourself are removed from the chat room, don’t look upon it as a slight to your character, or even that you have done something ethically wrong, other than simply not respecting the guidelines, in the opinion of the chat moderator. This is all, and people are removed from chat rooms very frequently – chat moderation is sometimes quite a daunting task, and prevention (keeping the atmosphere friendly and less likely to cause conflicts) here is very, very important. So very likely – you made a remark, were warned, and then made another remark which was still deemed, in the chat moderator’s opinion, as not being in the spirit of the guidelines. Nothing more than this. And please have some sympathy also for the chat moderator and the difficulty of making these decisions to everyone’s comfort.
Chat rooms often contain more people than can be dealt with personally – this is why these measures are taken. Please don’t be afraid of joining us. But do try to do your best to put aside concerns from public prayer which aren’t a part of these guidelines, and help us preserve unity in our prayers.
Thank you for reading through these more detailed guidelines. We may have overestimated the need; the net is sometimes a bit of a jungle, and we thought it might be necessary to spell some things out, since there are “activists” on both sides of the debates which divide us. May God’s grace be with you, and with us all; please join us in prayer, and help us pray especially for unity in the church. If the chat moderator has made a mistake – by being too permissive, or too restrictive, please forgive him or her – and continue in prayer for TEC, the Communion, and the body of Christ.