Seeing and hearing

Its funny the difference that video can make to a conversation. I found myself earlier this week engaged in a meeting via skype. Now, I’ve used skype plenty of times for chatting to friends, but this was the first time I’ve used it for a businessy meeting.

That kind of thing clearly can’t replace all kinds of face to face in the same place meetings but this time it allowed two busy people to have a useful meeting which might not have happened otherwise at all.

I find that there are big differences in skype chatting and phone chatting. If you can see the person, you get that whole extra range of little communications clues. If you are using headphones, you’ve also got your hands free.

I recently heard of someone doing paid counselling work using this technology and am aware of international coaching/mentoring arrangements which go on using it.

The world has changed if such technology can be used for such engagement. Distance is diminished. Geography is so much less of a barrier than it used to be.

This is one of the reasons why I’ve been so opposed to the current mission development plans in this diocese. The old assumptions that we will relate most naturally to those most geographically near us are not merely breaking down, they’ve gone.

We’ve been told for so very long that mission has to be contextual. The presumption of far too many people is that context is set more by geographical locality than by the way people live. Territorial boundaries in church life are under huge threat at the moment because the concept behind them doesn’t make sense. Thus we have extra-provincial interventions of the Anglican Communion, cross border meddling with dioceses and the concept of parish, which, we don’t really believe in here in the Scottish Episcopal Church, now, do we?

I tend to think of St Mary’s as a church whose beacon shines brightly across any false boundaries of geography. Most people pass other churches to come here. Most people pass other Episcopal churches to come here. Our light shines out over and beyond our locality, our city, even the diocese. This week, it shone right round the world.

And it is the world which is our context. Not our Regional Council. And that world has changed significantly since the 1970s. The current proposals for a growth strategy for this diocese seem to be not to recognise this at all.