Clergy on Twitter: A Sermon in 140 Characters

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Bishop Gregory H. Rickel takes a selfie with the choir at St. Columba Church in Kent, WA (Photo courtesy of Jenny Jimenez)

More ministers, priests and rabbis see Facebook, Instagram and other social media as a core part of ministries; posting on martyrs and movies

By Clare Ansberry / The Wall Street Journal
November 8, 2016


Social media is as much a ministry as visiting the sick in hospitals. “It’s where we need to be,” Bishop Coyne says. “It goes to the core of spreading the good news.”


Every morning, Burlington, Vt., Bishop Christopher Coyne wakes at 5:30 in his rectory home, prays, reads Scripture, and comes up with the day’s first tweets. By 8 a.m., his followers on Twitter and Facebook know the day’s saint and gospel reading and the latest news from the pope. In the evening, the Catholic bishop often posts again — a short video of his visit to a school or a picture of dinner, like the pork cutlets with a cherry-tomato-and-caper sauce that he recently made. For him, social media is as much his ministry as visiting the sick in hospitals. “It’s where we need to be,” he says. “It goes to the core of spreading the good news.”

After arriving at a new post in Olympia, Wash., Episcopal Bishop Greg Rickel, a former hospital administrator with a master’s degree in communications, hired an internet strategist to update church websites and a young hipster communications director to offer classes on Twitter for clergy and set up Facebook pages for small rural churches. Bishop Rickel blogs about gun violence and the Central American refugee crisis, and posts his sermons on his webpage, below a picture of him taking selfies with children. His goal, in part, is to reach those 35 and younger. “We have to learn their language and the world they live in,” says the 53-year-old bishop, whose Facebook home page features a picture of him with his surfboard.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

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