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We are delighted to let you know that Sycamore has recently launched. This new programme of evangelisation and catechesis will be an invaluable resource for parishes, chaplaincies, schools, prisons, and beyond. You can watch the trailer here:

There are three ways that you could help us. Could you please:

(1) Explore the website yourself:

https://www.sycamore.fm/

and consider taking out a subscription on behalf of your community.

(2) Forward this email to anyone you think might be interested: especially priests, chaplains, catechists, teachers, youth workers, evangelisation coordinators, etc.

(3) Copy and paste the information below into your social media feeds. Please share this information in any way you can. The website should appear automatically in your post or feed.

Thanks for your support.

Fr Stephen Wang and the Sycamore team

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[TEXT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS]

SYCAMORE: A NEW PROGRAMME OF EVANGELISATION AND CATECHESIS

https://www.sycamore.fm/ 

Sycamore has launched! Visit the website here to see how you could use the resources in your parish, school, chaplaincy or prison. Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested, especially priests, chaplains, catechists, teachers, evangelisation coordinators, youth leaders, etc.

Sycamore is an informal course about the Christian faith and its relevance for life today. It gives people space to meet others, share ideas, explore their beliefs, and think about questions that really matter.

Each Sycamore session involves a short film and time for discussion. There’s no pressure and no commitment. People can be themselves without any fear of being judged. There’s a real sense of community, a spirit of friendship, some great conversation, and often some delicious food. Everyone is welcome.

The high-quality films are engaging, thought-provoking, and accessible to those with little or no religious background. They explore the richness of the Christian tradition from a Catholic perspective, connecting the core Christian message with a vision of the sacramental and moral life. They will also appeal to people from different Christian traditions and backgrounds. The films are presented by Fr Stephen Wang, a Catholic priest with much experience in teaching and media work, and they include Christian testimonies and street interviews about the challenges of believing today.

Sycamore has been created for parishes, schools, university chaplaincies, prisons and beyond. It develops leaders, builds community, creates genuine friendships, and helps the wider Christian community to become more open and welcoming. Discussion questions are built into the films so that the sessions can be run very easily.

Why the name “Sycamore”? In the bible, Jesus comes to the town of Jericho. A man called Zacchaeus is so curious about Jesus that he climbs a Sycamore tree to get a better view. When he finally meets him, they begin a conversation, and his life is changed forever.

The films, supplementary resources and training materials for group leaders are all available online. You can register, free of charge, as a leader, which gives you access to all the planning and training materials. You can then take out a subscription on behalf of your community which allows you to view and download the films and publicity materials.

Sycamore is a UK Charity (“Sycamore Roman Catholic Charity”, CIO Number 1182843). You can contact us via the website.

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Horcruxes, technology addiction, and the search for personal wholeness. See the post by Br Conor at Jericho Tree.

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Communicating the faith to a secular world: ‘it’s not about us it’s about them’. See this post by Fr Stephen Wang at Jericho Tree.

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See the new post on the Jericho Tree site.

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The online Guardian site has a Guardian Witness project: “Share your view of the world: your chance to have videos, photos and stories featured on the Guardian”. It’s a kind of democratic journalism – a simple and uncensored way of uploading your own perspectives on a given topic, onto an elegant Pinterest-style site.

guardian witness

One of the current topics is “Your Church Congregation”. There are 293 contributions as I write. You have until Friday 28 June to upload images from your own church. Why not add your own? It’s a great way to share the life of your own community; and at the very least it will help Guardian readers to appreciate (in case they don’t already) how alive our Christian churches are.

See the Church Congregation page here.

This is the spiel:

Who are the Christians in Britain today? On any given Sunday, there will be at least 2.5m people in churches of various sorts, but each congregation tends to be an island with little contact with others. So, we want you to share your photographs and videos of your own congregations, everywhere from converted units on an industrial estate to magnificent medieval cathedrals.

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A couple of years ago I saw a production of Soldier to Saint by RISE Theatre at a youth retreat. It is one of the most powerful Christian dramas I have ever seen, bringing to life – in a contemporary setting – the story of St Alban, our first martyr.

I was delighted to hear that the play is being revived again this summer, and on tour round the UK from 28th June – 12th July 2013. The reason I’m blogging now is not to invite you to the shows themselves (I’ll post the venues and dates later on), but to see if your parish might be interested in hosting one of the performances. It’s a wonderful opportunity for inspiring parishioners in their faith, and for evangelisation and outreach. All the details are below, with the contact email at the bottom.

After a successful London run in 2011, RISE Theatre is reviving its ground-breaking one-act play Soldier to Saint, bringing this challenging & thought-provoking drama to the very heart of your community!

It is the year 2020 and London is in crisis. As Christians are forced into hiding and rioting hits the streets, a soldier – John Alban, strikes an unlikely friendship with a fugitive priest, a friendship that could cost him his life.

For such a time as this, John Alban must now make a choice between his old way of life or following a new path – a path that will change his life forever.

Performed by RISE Theatre, Soldier to Saint brings to life the inspirational true story of Saint Alban, England’s first Christian martyr – a compelling tale of courage, friendship and sacrifice.

RISE Theatre would like to bring this inspirational play straight to your doorstep, offering your community a unique way to explore the journey to faith.

BOOK NOW: Limited Tour Dates available from 28th June – 12th July 2013.

If you would like to host Soldier to Saint at your church, or for more information on cost, please contact Stephen at info@risetheatre.co.uk

See there website here, which has a short video on the homepage, and more details about the tour.

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Every few months we hear about the impending death of television, how everyone has shifted to the internet, to social media, to Web 2.0, to Web 3.0… Yes, there are some shifts, but here in the UK we are watching far, far more TV than just a few years ago.

tv head by ElAlispruz

You can read this recent report from TV Licensing.

Here is the key statistic:

We watch an average of 4 hours 2 minutes of TV a day, up from an average of 3 hours 36 minutes a day in 2006.

Four hours a day! This is an average day in the UK in 2013. Seems like a lot to me.

Here are some of the technological shifts:

  • We have fewer TVs: The average household now has 1.83 TV sets, down from an average of 2.3 sets in 2003.
  • But we’re watching more television on more devices: We watch an average of 4 hours 2 minutes of TV a day, up from an average of 3 hours 36 minutes a day in 2006. A TV Licence covers you to watch on any TV, mobile device or tablet in your home or on the move. In 2012, fewer than one per cent of us watch only time-shifted TV.
  • Premium TV features are on the rise: More than a third of the TV market value in 2012 was from sales of 3D TVs, and sales of jumbo screens (43 inch or more) increased 10 per cent in the past 12 months.
  • Social networks allow us to engage with each other in real-time like never before: 40 per cent of all tweets are about television shows between 6.30pm and 10pm.

So despite there being more devices and platforms, we are still gathering round the ‘hearth’ of a premium TV at the centre of the home. And instead of being completely absorbed in the entertainment experience, we are tweeting about what we are watching in real-time, which is probably no more than an extension of the chatter that would take place round the TV in previous generations.

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