CODEC - Christian Communication in a Digital Age

an amalgamation of three research centres at St John's exploring:

- Biblical Literacy
- Preaching and Communication
- Theology & Cultural Engagement

Working in partnership with:
Churches Media Council & The Bible Society

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Mark's Brown blogs on DigitalSymp

Here is Mark's blog entry exploring Digital Symp - some interesting points raised here...


Friday, 17 July 2009

Guest Blog on the Churchmouse!

Exclusive: Guest post from Andy Jackson, editor of on Christianity in the Digital Space

Quite an extensive comment from Pam Smith as well exploring coercion and synergy...


Tweet from @emptybelly

emptybelly: @Ulfilas Blog entry for Dissertation


Original Tweet:

Sent via TweetDeck (

Please note that Dr Bex Lewis' Twitter Account was frozen after all her endeavours at digisymp!

Please use hashtag #freedrbexl : big campaign to free the Twitter One!


A letter from CMC

Dear friends,

I hope you enjoyed our time together in Durham. I was certainly glad to meet you in Rea...I mean "off-line". I've come away with lots to think about. Over the coming months we will try to pursue some of the outcomes we discussed.

One of these was that we should find ways to remain in contact. In order to do this ! I invite you to join the Churches' Media Council New Media Forum. You will find this at - or you can just click here. The Forum has a group for people who attended Christianity in the Digital Space. I'm grateful to Rachel Collinson (a dragon, but not a worship-leading one!) for setting this up for us.

It would be good to use this ning to advance our thinking about Christianity in the Digital Space. So please feel free to ask questions, add links, do some fresh thinking etc. The Twitter feed #digisymp will also remain open for more general chat.

CODEC blog is also open, with lots of content and responses to the symposium. I'd encourage you to go there too.

Look forward to continuing ! the conversation with you.

Best wishes,

Andrew Graystone

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

It's all over

Sadly the Symposium on Christianity in the Digital Space has come to end.

Will we meet again? Dunno...hope so...I think.

We will continue to use the #digisymp hashtag on Twitter.

Hopefully lots of relationships have been kicked off.

Please pray for CODEC and if you are a millionaire looking to support digital expressions of our faith or an agency with some funding to spare - please come and support our work.

Some reviews are beginning to appear: Ship of Fools

Thanks to all the participants - twas a blast!


Day three and the fat lady has yet to sing

Day 3 dawns. And it’s a joy to at last hear Scripture and the Spirit applied to the issues at hand – followed through with a prayerful response. What a good start to the whole symposium this would have made, providing an essential reference point that would have enriched everything.

The overall discourse, which has been extensive and valuable, has had a surprising number of old ‘thought that had been sorted long ago’ questions. There’s such a need to walk in today’s light rather than yesterday’s shadows.

A big thought has been the reference to ‘the spirit of the internet’ which is a very warm, welcoming, engaging and ‘let’s share this for free’ environment. In many ways more ‘Christian’ than much that carries the Christian tag.

Then Bishop Tom ‘two names for two brains’ Wright showed up and everything got ramped up three more gears. What is going on is more than ‘more information that arrives faster’, he underlined. Something has happened to those involved. Bringing in a new intuitive age, where play is more important than we though it was.

The final Dragon’s Den shows there is no shortage of ideas and needs to be met.

Now the challenge is to process all the input and engagement with some practical outcomes. Let's go and play.

That was day 2

So that’s day 2 done and dusted. Lots of talk – up front and in groups. All creating echoes of the kind of conversations that must have happened when the church first confronted the advent of printing. So nothing totally new here.

But so far as the digital space is concerned a Christian response seems to come down to three options -
  1. Do we create our own space ‘out there' and invite people to find us and join us – even to do those things that most people no longer want to do in physical space?
  2. How do we behave now ‘the world and the Church’ counts the digital space as part of their living space?
  3. Do we identify the conversations happening out there and join in, including where we might feel the least welcome?
Meanwhile, there seems to be lots of angst about what church is in digital space, how you exercise authority and keep the mad men from raging. All too late as the genies are all out of the bottles and granting wishes to everyone. Anarchy rules, ok.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Greetings from the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life

I am really excited about having the opportunity to participate in this symposium. I've been following it today from the US (since 4am local time!). The video stream has been wonderful, and I love the Twitter interface that enhances the interactive nature of things.

I'm Cady Enoch (SL name), chair of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life Leadership Team. I'm the person that Mark Brown referred to in his talk this morning. The person he has never "met." Which seems an odd thing to say, since we have been working together so closely for the past two years. I feel that I know him as well or better than many people that I interact with face to face. The same is true for many others that I have come to know at the SL Cathedral. In one of the morning breakout sessions, the question was asked, "why [do] people seek community online rather than those around them?" I assure you this is not an either/or proposition. My online life allows me to broaden the range of people that I have the opportunity to meet. I have had the opportunity to meet people from a wide range of geographical, cultural, and yes, political backgrounds different from my own, and has enhanced my understanding of them. I can think of no better way for Christians to build bridges with one another than to take the opportunity to form relationships in community with them.

I encourage the symposium participants (and anyone else with an interest) to attend the Second Life service this evening, and to visit our blog at to learn about us. We would love to meet you!


Google Docs as promised

Google Docs are available to view...

A message from DC: Kate Boardman

I guess its a bit late to encourage everyone who's there to have done this - but it might still be interesting even though it looks a small enough group to probably get to know everyone briefly over the time. Really sorry to be missing out, but kudos on the ustream-looking good. Off to gym/pool for a bit now before staff a community volunteer event sponsored by Bb this afternoon. Hope all continues to go well, will catchup wiht the recorded sessions later on.

Hi, I'm Kate, a student on the MA in Theology and Ministry at Cranmer hoping one day to switch to full time ministry from my day job. The latter is as Head of E-learning at Teesside University (previously Durham and Hull universities) and as a long-established member of the academics advising the US company Blackboard whose software I've been using since 1999. I fell into technology as the web was arriving, doing my MA dissertation on using modern technology to enhance the study of medieval manuscripts, and I realised as the technology grew that there were huge possibilities in both communication and the delivery of resources (my first publication was an article on using email lists to support students while on placement back in 1994) and so ended up looking for ways to use technology to enhance education and communities. I worked for a while on a major international research project to digitise the Bayeux Tapestry (which I have now created as an exhibition in SL)

As I began my theology study then, it was an obvious choice to explore how my two (three) lives come together. I wrote an essay for my certificate on some thoughts mission and ministry online ( and more recently have been providing some consultancy to Durham Cathedral on their use of online media ( I've also almost finished building Durham Cathedral in SL too, which hopefully will play a strong part in next year's redesign of the claustral buildings and provide a space for a digital exhibition of the Treasures while the physical exhibition is closed. (

I live in both the real and virtual worlds. I don't see them as separate. I don't think we can, or will. That means there are many opportunities we are not taking advantage of in ministry, and I'm really interested in being a part of that conversation as it moves forward. Unfortunately, my day job still pays my salary, so I can't be with digitalsymp this week, as am presenting at an international conference in Washington DC for work. But around the edge of the sessions, the wonders of technology means I'll be with you in spirit :)


National Biblical Literacy Survey

Here is one of many stories appearing based on CODEC's recent survey - well done Brian Brown! Presentation tonight at 7.30 at St John's College.


Mark Brown's Presentation: Christianity in a Digital Space

Mark Brown's Presentation from this morning @digitalsymp


Christianity in the Digital Space

We spent time trying to define ‘digital space’ but not ‘Christianity’. Which might be needed as this has so far been a Bible-free and prayer-free zone, pretty well. There was ‘Worship in the chapel’ but this simply underlined the sacred/secular divide – which may explain the heavy emphasis so far on recreating outdated forms of ‘church’ in the new environment.

Woops – should say that it has not been all Bible-free. Two and three quarter hours after the start we did get three short quotes from Jesus. But there is a sense that the strong presence of media and ecclesiastical people means if this group is to do some serious theological application it may have to be dragged to the Bible screaming.

Meanwhile I am still having a good mull on some of the key lines that were thrown out –
‘How can people trust anything in a Wikiworld?’ – but Wiki is no more or less trustworthy than the worlds of politics, business or the media.

‘What is the future and place of preaching?’ – but isn’t the question ‘How can we bring God’s word alive for others in today’s world?’

Meanwhile, a question of my own. If we can envisage a church in ‘digital space’, to be authentic what would it mean to wash each other’s feet?

Enough is enough. Off to the bar.

Pete Meadows, Bible Society

Monday, 13 July 2009

Video Footage...

Video footage from the Symposium will gradually arrive online at: - further links via (hashtag = #digisymp)

The DIGISYMP Programme


Monday 13th July




Welcome and introductions

Spirituality and values in the Digital Space (Andrew Graystone and Rev Mark Brown)




Who is doing what?

Short presentations by delegates collecting and sharing experiences of working online.


Worship in chapel (led by Rev Dr Pete Philips and Rev Kate Bruce)


Dinner (Haughton Dining Room)


Networking, online worship, bottle bar in Cranmer Common Room

Tuesday 14th July




Bible reading (Rev Dr Colin Greene)

The Bible in the Digital Space (Rev Mark Brown)


Conversation strands A




Conversation strands A continue


Plenary reports




Conversation strands B




Networking time

CODEC Advisory Group (Tristram Room)


Worship in chapel (led by Rev Dr Pete Philips and Rev Kate Bruce)




Biblical Literacy survey (Research presented by Rev Brian Brown)

Wednesday 15th July




Bible reading (Rev Dr David Wilkinson)

Discipleship in the Digital Space (Rt Rev NT Wright, Bishop of Durham)






Response from Bishop Tom Wright

Panel discussion




Dragons’ Den


Worship in chapel (led by Rev Dr Pete Philips and Rev Kate Bruce)



Issues we will be discussing

  • changing world
  • how to apply this in church
  • jurisdiction - borderless web
  • space/virtual/channel/culture
  • authority in [the] church
  • who do we believe in wikiworld?
  • authenticity...accountability...responsibility
  • transparency - one persona?
  • online/offline responsibility
  • naivety about security issues - can we protect
  • empowering children online
  • digital natives/immigrants/aliens - see Born Digital...
  • Whose voices are heard on the internet?
  • What do people want to hear online?
  • Can you truly have an online community?
  • What's our heritage? Copyright?
  • Money and Christianity in Digital Space

Friday, 10 July 2009

Faith and Globalisation: Tony Blair

Members of the CODEC Team shared with other members of the University and regional faith communities in welcoming the former Prime Minister Tony Blair to Durham this afternoon. Mr Blair was launching the new Faith and Globalisation initiative at the University which has been chosen alongside Yale and Singapore to pioneer a postgraduate programme exploring the interface between Faith and an increasingly globalised world. Pete twittered all about it and the tweets can be found at:

Although the Faith and Globalisation Agenda fits well with CODEC, there are also some key differences. It will be interesting to see whether these appear in more stark relief at the Digital Space Symposium next week.

Online Communities

Muriel Sowden writes:


An idea that has been rolling around in my head and won't go away is that of an online "intentional religious community" (not a church) where "followers"  (brothers, sisters) are dispersed but come together online for prayer, worship. Not just contacting each other by e-mail, but where the centre of their spiritual lives is online.  A true religious community following a Rule  (or Rhythm) of life.  A "fresh expression" of religious life. I would be interested to hear if anyone at the digital symposium next week has any experience of this or thoughts on it - whether it could be possible to have an online Religious Order, or whether it is an unworkable idea. 

Hope the Symposium is useful!


There are some good examples of such communities already online some being intentional  communities and others intentional church experiences - such as Earth Abbey, St Pixels, Anglican Cathedral in Second Life and others.  I wonder whether people might like to put some more links for Muriel to follow up into the comments?


Posting on the site

If you are attending digitalsymp - then why not post your views in prep or during the event here on the blog. I can either add you to the authors or send me some text and I can upload it. My email is

Let's get the conversation going...


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Connecting with Digital Symposium

Route 1 -
Whether you are attending Digital Symposium or not, you can keep updated here on the blog. You can read blog entries, add comments, listen to podcasts and watch videocasts. You will also find "google docs" versions of notes taken during the various conversation streams and contribute to these and comment on them.

So Route 1 = Blogspot Website!

Route 2 - @digitalsymp on Twitter
Find @digitalsymp on your Twitter App - available via internet on PC/Mac or iPhone or mobiles and then FOLLOW @digitalsymp. We will follow you too! This will mean that you will be able to read comments coming from the Conference giving you the gist of what is happening and being said. Moreover, direct messages (D @digitalsymp) will be displayed in the Symposium meeting room for speakers and attendees to engage with. So you can read what is happening via Twitter and even have your say in the meeting whether you are in Durham or Auckland. Of course, remember we are running at BST (GMT+1).

If you are attending the conference - when you sign up to follow @digitalsymp, then send in a quick message to say who you are, why your coming, what interests you have - all in less than 140 characters!

So Route 2 = Twitter @digitalsymp

Route 3 -
A more limited service will be run on our home website offering some podcasts, news and highlights.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Digital Symposium

It's coming soon! What an opportunity!

Peter Phillips
Centre for Biblical Literacy
St Johns College, Durham