Grassroots conversations grow in The Community

Summer was a time of steady growth for The Community, the Anglican Church of Canada’s online conversation space. Web traffic jumped between June and August as both new and returning visitors read more pages and stayed longer on the site. Between July and August, site visits jumped by 48% and people stayed 47% longer. Currently more than 3,000 people are visiting the site each month.

Online Community Coordinator the Rev. Jesse Dymond is one of dozens of Anglicans who appear in the new video for The Community.
Online Community Coordinator the Rev. Jesse Dymond is one of dozens of Anglicans who appear in the new video for The Community.

New blogs have also started on interfaith issues, prayer, and pop culture, bringing the total to 13 active blogs.

“The Community is constantly expanding, and we’re open to suggestions and nominations about topic areas and Community leaders,” said the Rev. Jesse Dymond, General Synod’s online community coordinator.

“I’m particularly excited to see some of the church’s younger members taking on new and creative leadership roles.”

The Community’s responsiveness intrigued Afra Saskia Tucker, a Montreal-based section guide who blogs on interfaith issues and activism. Ms. Tucker got involved gradually—first reading, then posting, then pitching her own blog.

“I’m always looking in the Anglican Church of Canada for more grassroots-level communications,” she said. “The Community is a great way to spread the word, be very inclusive, and get a variety of voices.”

Ms. Tucker’s debut blog was a personal meditation on Quebec politics and interfaith dialogue. Future blogs will draw on her experience in interfaith activism and her rich, unusual life experience. (For one thing, Ms. Tucker connected with Anglicanism while studying Chinese philosophy in Milan.)

Several provinces to the west, another new section guide types away: Mark Perrin, a Calgary engineer is blogging about prayer. The father of three works with the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer to resource people’s prayer lives.

“I’m coming at it from my personal experience and my own prayer life,” said Mr. Perrin. “I want to hear what other people are experiencing. We all lead busy lives so when do we fit prayer in?”

Since launching in February 2012, The Community is gradually becoming a place where Anglicans can ask, share, and answer questions like these. Links to conversations are shared regularly around the Anglican Communion.

It’s been a treat for the Rev. Kyle Norman, The Community’s pop culture blogger, to see this reach. His posts—which have covered plastic surgery, Starbucks, and Survivor—are reproduced close to home in his own parish’s bulletins and newsletters, but also shared through Facebook and Twitter.

“My first post was picked up in Melbourne, Australia, which was pretty great,” he said with a laugh.

The Community holds much potential for broad connections and deep conversation—for those who give it a try.

“I’d encourage people to just log in to The Community and read without feeling that you need to commit,” said Mr. Norman. “If anything intrigues you, write a comment and see what it garners. Follow that comfort level.”

“My big hope is that it continues with more voices and more discussion and becomes a forum within the Anglican Church of Canada.”

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