February 17, 2012

Unhelpful

I was recently browsing the redesigned Episcopal Church Web site and decided to check if the information about my own parish was up-to-date. The church’s home page contains a link at the top right labeled FIND A CHURCH. Clicking on the link takes the visitor to a page where a ZIP Code can be entered. I put in the ZIP Code of St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon (15228), clicked the GO button, and was taken to a page that includes what you can see in the image below:

Partial search results for ZIP Code 15228

Pittsburgh Episcopalians should immediate recognize a problem here. All parishes listed were Episcopal parishes four years ago, and, arguably they still are. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are currently occupied by Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) congregations. They are, as we usually say in Pittsburgh, “Duncan churches.” In particular, Church of the Advent and Church of the Atonement (among many others) listed above are Duncan churches in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The Episcopal Church Web site is directing visitors to churches of a rival denomination!

The church finder function on the ACNA Web site is considerably more up-to-date. It is reached from a link at the right of the home page, which takes the visitor here. As on the Episcopal Church site, one can enter a ZIP Code and a search radius. The results corresponding to the search I did on the Episcopal Church site are shown, in part, below:


St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, was not listed. In fact, the only parish listed erroneously was Trinity Cathedral, which, until December, had been acting both as an Episcopal Church and ACNA cathedral. Now, of course, it is strictly an Episcopal Church operation. (See “Trinity Cathedral Casts Its Lot with TEC.”) ACNA has not yet gotten around to making the change on its parish finder.

When I discovered the problem with the Episcopal Church Web site, I thought of contacting the Episcopal Church Center myself. Considering the matter further, however, I decided that the request for a change to the list of Pittsburgh parishes ought to come from the Episcopal diocese itself. I therefore contacted my friend Joan Gundersen, who has been responsible, since the departure of the Duncan faction in 2008, for keeping The Episcopal Church straight on who is or is not an Episcopal priest or deacon in the diocese, as well as which churches are occupied by Episcopal congregations and which are occupied by ACNA congregations. At least as far as parishes are concerned, Joan expressed despair of ever getting the Church Center to get things right.

I don’t know if the church finder function on the Episcopal Church Web site handled the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh properly before the latest redesign was implemented or not. Either the transition was done poorly, or it was executed using erroneous data from the start. I can only hope that this post will help shame the Episcopal Church powers that be into getting the Web site right and ceasing to send Episcopalians to ACNA churches.

By the way, the information for St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, is correct on the Episcopal Church Web site.

Update, 2/23/2012: Gary Gaertner read the above post and decided to encourage the communications folks at the Episcopal Church Center to eliminate ACNA churches from the parish finder. This required several e-mail exchanges, but, I am happy to report, he seems to have been successful in getting ACNA churches removed. Of course, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh believes that parishes that are controlled by ACNA are properly Episcopal Church parishes, but they are, one might say, under ACNA occupation. It is silly to send someone looking for an Episcopal Church parish to such a church.

7 comments:

  1. Our listing is at least 6 years out of date. Any idea how it can be changed?

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  2. If you search for your parish and click on its name when you find it, you are taken to a page that includes a link labeled “Become the Web Editor of this Page.” Presumably, this initiates a process that will allow you to change the listing yourself.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. What is so annoying about this sort of thing is that it is so easily preventable.

    There already is an edit process for the parish listings. Expanding it to the diocese and including delete edits would not be a big problem. Given a couple completely unnecessary meetings, and a necessary conversation with the DBA and another with the security manager, we are talking a week or so for the developer.

    Given access from outside, any reasonably competent consultant / developer could probably do it. The problem is simply not that difficult.

    I would want a very few, say three weeks to do it from here, if they are using MySQL, Oracle, or Access. If they actually are using something else, I am sure we could find someone.

    Maybe they will decide to make me look stupid and deploy it in ten days? We can hope!


    FWIW
    jimB

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  5. Anne Rudig and her staff obviously have a pretty complicated task on their hands. But for some reason "Episcopal Church" and "the internet" have been oil and water for years now. From Ecunet days onward. The problems you point at here are somewhat understandable, I guess, when we note that our Episcopal Diocese does in fact continue to list all these parishes as parishes of the Episcopal Diocese, even if the congregations in ministry in and from these locations are functioning as part of the Anglican Diocese. I'm surprised that someone from the Communications Office didn't just call our diocesan office and ask for some assistance . . . .

    As a side note, while I'm sure that it is the case that some in Pittsburgh and probably elsewhere may refer to congregations of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA) as "Duncan churches," I would remark that at least in my neck of the woods that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe it's a Mount Lebanon thing?

    The most common locution I hear is "the other group." Sometimes among those more engaged in the day-to-day issues, "the Anglican Diocese," which is what I tend to say, or "the ACNA Diocese," which is I notice what our Chancellor says.

    Certainly a part of the healing that needs to take place "among us" and "among them" will be reflected in the tone of our discourse.

    Bruce Robison

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  6. Without any other ideas to address the church finder, I went to the "Contact Us" page at the ECUSA web-site and demanded that the "Find A Church" function be fixed for the Pittsburgh diocese. It is not an excuse to say that the repair is complicated, or that the Church and the Internet do not mix. Plenty of software engineers and programmers would be happy to help for a modest fee, just as plenty of priests are happy to conduct a marriage for a fee. We each have our own unique talents and gifts, and able management requires that the proper gifts be dedicated to the associated tasks.
    In so far as locution and discourse are concerned, I am sure that the Duncan crowd does not expect too much, since after all they have repeatedly stated that Episcopalians no longer believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Heathens are beneath their notice. Everyone is entitled to believe what they will, and I give Duncan's crowd the same remote respect which I give to the Primitive Baptist Church. However, I regard the continuing ordination of Duncan and his priests as having no more validity than my own recent ordination by the Universal Life Church. (At the UL web-site, anyone who submits their name is instantly ordained for free, provided only that the applicant is over 13 years old. The actual beliefs are not an issue.) If Duncan's crowd is to be identified as the ACNA Diocese, then hereafter I expect to be accorded high respect as the Archbishop of the Grant Street Diocese of the Universal Life church.

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  7. Actually, I had already contacted the web people and they were working with me BEFORE Gary contacted them to remove the ACNA churches. The process is complicated because parish names are not consistent and you have to hunt through multiple variations on a parish name. I gave the web people a list of more than 40 parishes to remove and they were doing so when Lionel posted his blog. Joan Gundersen

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