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Hallo again to all.

From time to time we sit back to have a look at the state of the Anglican world online. It is tempting to say that the tone of some sites is bitter, counter-productive, boring, or what have you. But a careful, dispassionate look tells us that the most striking thing is the sheer size of it. A small number of mega-sites provide news, content, opinion and other forms of information, and most of them do so very well. The great majority of sites are parish or cathedral websites, usually created from within the communities they represent. (Many Anglican websites, like church-political labels, really tell us more about their creators than the parishes or organisations they are intended to represent, but that is a topic for another time.) A recent tally of our parish and cathedral listings surprised even us:

  4385 in the US
2603 in England
707 in Canada
455 in Australia
183 in New Zealand
163 in Ireland
155 in Africa
154 in Scotland
143 in Wales
142 in Europe
72 in Japan; and
333 in "the rest of the world"

Edible mushroomsClearly, there is no direct correlation between the number of Anglicans and the number of websites that represent them on the world wide web. But the numbers are still wonderful and in some sense amazing: a decade or so ago the numbers would have been much, much smaller, and the number of people using the internet to learn about and live within Anglicanism would have been minuscule in comparison to today's reality of a plugged-in communion, learning about itself at breakneck pace and with occasionally mixed results. The exponential growth of the online Anglican world over the last decade and a half has brought with it new challenges and responsibilities, but not new standards for Christian conduct and discourse. It is a cause for joy and thanksgiving to us that the bulk of the 15,000-odd people who work (without organisation, pay, or often acknowledgment) as Anglican webmakers do so in a way that honours the promises made when they were baptised and confirmed.

Each week we learn of at least a dozen—sometimes as many as 40 or 50—new websites, and we try to incorporate them into our directories in relatively short order. This can be an uphill battle, as parish addresses change, some sites are abandoned entirely, hosts experience technical difficulties, and ecclesiastical allegiances change. A change of "Dissenters" to "websites" in one of John Mason Neale's more curious poems makes for a song we could often sing in earnest:

The good old Church of England!
With Her Priests through all the land,
And Her twenty thousand churches,
How nobly does She stand!
But websites are like mushrooms,
That flourish but a day;
Twelve hundred years, through smiles and tears,
She hath lasted on alway!

We work on AO each day and each week because of our conviction that it is a force to help the Anglican world last on alway in an equipped, efficient way by providing a home for a comprehensive directory of Anglican content online. For most travellers, parishioners, inquirers and researchers we know, the web is the first place they look to find out what they wish or need to know. Our goal is to make that easier, and to point out particularly worthwhile and responsible online resources whose creators work for the edification—the real building-up—of the Church.

If your parish or Anglican organisation has a website we do not list, please let us know so that we can add it. The more accurate and up-to-date our listings are, the more useful AO will be to you and to the web-using public.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 6 August 2006

(Click for the 1 August update on Cynthia's cancer.)

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