Hallo again to all.
We greet you with that salutation here at the AO front door, as we've done since 1997 (really, 1994, but that's a quibble in the timeline of history). Though this weekly letter is our front door, Anglicans Online is far more than this page.
From logs and data and such, we know that most readers have a look at our weekly letter, pop over to new sites we feature in Noted This Week, then check out the stories and articles linked in our News Centre. So far, so good. But the heart of AO is our largest-in-the-Anglican-Communion listing of parishes throughout the world. Organized by country or area of the world, then by diocese (or in some cases, by geographic region), we sensibly list parishes alphabetically by their village, town, or city, so you can find what you're looking for with as little frustration as possible.
To compile those parish lists when we began AO, we'd simply search round the Web and find whatever sites there were. There were very few, needless to say. As dioceses came online (sloooooowly, first in the developed world and then rippling round the Communion), we'd check diocesan websites for parish listings. Many of those listings were opaque. On diocesan sites, parishes would be arranged, for example, by deanery and one would need to know what deanery a church was in before locating the parish link. Others were organized in equally obscure ways, confounding an out-of-town visitor who might have simply wished to attend a service on a Sunday and wasn't interested in administrative taxonomy.
Through the years, we've wrestled with those diocesan website parish links, copied them into our pages, and arranged them by town within a diocese, alphabetically, in our pages. The point? To enable a visitor from Madagascar, say, to locate a church in Manchester with as little fuss as possible.
As time went on, our small staff of volunteers found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the number of parish websites coming online. So we began to rely more and more on the links you send to us via our Add a Site link. And it's proved nearly impossible to spend the hundreds of hours it would take to ensure that years-old parish links are still viable and that the one you click to visit Saint Swithin's in the Marsh takes you there instead of an S&M online shop hosted in Moldavia. (Just last week we had an earnest email from the rector of a parish in the States who urged us to change his church's link on AO as soon as possible, for visitors were being sent off to a porn site. We made the update straightaway.)
All this by way of saying that if we never wrote another letter or linked another news story, our parish listings would still be the best service AO can provide to the Communion. But, dear friends, we could certainly use your help!
Here's what you can do.
If you've a little time on your hands and would like to assist in a slightly larger way, we'd be delighted if you'd Adopt A Diocese. We'd list you as the overseer of the diocese — think of it as a kind of internet episcopacy — and presume you would work with your diocese's roster of parishes to ensure that the AO page is accurate and up to date. If you're interested, send us an email and claim the one you want. We'll go from there.
This isn't romantic work, we know. But Anglicans Online is the first place people come to when they're planning to visit a particular area of the world and want to find an Anglican parish. That church could be yours. Don't disappoint them.
See you next week.
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