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The AspidistraHallo again to all.

Users of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer read the names of our extended family each week in formal intercession. It's impossible to know how widely the practice obtains, but this week it will take us from Wales to North India, and Polynesia, on to Pittsburgh, Ireland, and South India, and then to Papua New Guinea, Ceylon, and Tanzania. We start again next week with West Africa.

The Cycle of Prayer is a reminder that we are a people with global connections and what was once called mutual responsibility and interdependence. We feel sorry for lectors on Sundays when strings of the names of dioceses are difficult to pronounce (and this is most Sundays). Even if only notionally, though, the difficulty of pronunciation moves us out of comfort zones and encourages our ears to hear diversity in unity.

There are now just under 900 dioceses in the Anglican Communion as reckoned by the ACO, a number far greater than the 76 represented at the first Lambeth Conference in 1867. It is not widely understood that there is no central ecclesiastical unit overseeing the delegation of domain names—that work has fallen since the middle 1990s to a group of volunteers who have for some time been mainly coterminous with the staff of Anglicans Online. If the ACO lists a diocese, its bishop or representatives can use our services to host their domains and subdomains. That may include listservs, internal platforms such as intranets or extranets, news services, catechetical materials, etc., and we maintain delegation records for every diocese in the world that has a website of which we know.

In a given week, a national church can inform us that it needs technical assistance with hosting for 40 dioceses, or we may discover that 20 or 30 diocesan webmasters have failed to renew their registrations, resulting in suspended websites. Suspended websites result in problems with email routing. Email problems make for breakdowns in internal communication. Once in place, the systems need to function smoothly, and this requires the human efforts of cooperation and mutual information. We have tried our best—some of us now for major fractions of our lives—to keep them running.

The raw data of domain names turns out to have something of the texture of religious change and development in it. The work of First Nations self-determination in Canada is evident in the need for The same can be said for and similar subdomains in Aotearoa New Zealand. Processes of litigation or decline have led to the retiring of some diocesan domains. In still other places, the profusion of diocesan structures has made it difficult to stay on top of the number of diocesan sites in Sudanese and Nigerian Anglicanism. There are countries in which a social media platform such as a Facebook page is more useful than a standalone website, and there are parts of our global church in which a diocesan website can be used to influence communion-wide dynamics through the sermons of a given bishop or the statements of a local synod. As the smallest self-replicating unit within catholic sacramental ecclesiology, the diocese is the interstice between the parish and the Church, between itself and other dioceses, and for the facilitation of its ordained ministers' formation, ordination and training. Some contexts need a domain name to do this, and others do not.

Someone must keep the aspidistra flying, and yet we are very, very tired.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

6 October 2019

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