March 3, 2009

Not So Fast: More on the ABS Saga

Well, yesterday things seemed to be working fine. I was able to create a directory entry for my parish listing it correctly as under the general denomination Anglican and the specific denomination of the Episcopal Church.

Today I received an e-mail from one of the tech people at ForMinistry, who told me that the problems have been fixed. He helpfully provided me with a direct link to my parish directory listing.

Imagine my surprise when I found that according to the listing I was now a part of the Anglican Church in America! I quickly went to the edit screen to make a correction, and found that “Anglican” had been removed from the list of general denominations. I was able to find the Episcopal Church listed in that category, and changed it to reflect that. However, this means that my parish is now listed under the general heading Episcopal Church and the specific heading Episcopal Church. There is no way to have Anglican as a general heading and Episcopal Church as a specific heading. Note that this is a change from yesterday.

I contacted the tech person with this problem and his quick response was,

Unfortunately the church listing on the drop down box are the only ones made available at the moment.

Sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.

I wrote back to him as follows:

Thanks for the quick reply. Can you please let me know when this will be changed? It was working yesterday when I created my directory listing; that is, I was able to choose "Anglican" from the "General Denomination" list, and "Episcopal Church" from the Specific Denomination list. Which is as it should be.

Those choices are no longer available, which means that the list was changed since yesterday when I made my directory listing, to remove "Anglican" from the General Denomination List in the Directory setup — I note it still appears in the Find a Church utility, which is fine.

It appears to me that changes such as this can and have been made. Can you tell me when it will be changed back?

Thanks for your attention to this very important matter.

I will keep you posted on any further developments. Curiouser and curiouser.

UPDATE: 5/5/09 -- All is now well! Happy to report after a phone conversation with the website and services department at ABS that "Anglican" now appears as a Primary Denomination in the directory creation panel. So a parish can now identify itself as "Anglican" "Episcopal Church." The tech officer also told me the reason for delays in responding to other complaints was due to a glitch in the help desk support ticket system. (Those who work IT will know what that means; for those who don't, think of the "Dead Letter" office, or the mail that gets returned to you as "No Such Address" when you know perfectly well there is such an address!) In any case, the support system is now back up and running, unleashing a flood of complaints that had been dammed up due to the glitch. So my heart goes out to the ABS IT and Web folk -- along with my thanks for a very quick resolution to the problems. I would all web service providers were as helpful and conscientious! — Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

— Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Erp said...

I think it is working now. At least there is Anglican with Episcopal Church under it and churches under that.

This sounds like a technical mix up with perhaps some ignorance and not a deliberate slap at the TEC.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Erp, that's at the Find a Church Directory. I'm talking about the place where a parish enters its information. There are two choices: Primary Denomination and Secondary Denomination, which I took to be related to "General Denomination" and "Specific Denomination" in the Search function. Apparently they are not the same lists. Indeed, at this point no parish can list itself as Anglican (Primary) and anything else as a secondary. Perhaps I've misunderstood something, but I thought that's what these categories were for, and an example of a peculiar web design.

But you are correct as far as the search section goes: the general heading Anglican is there, and the Episcopal Church appears under it. But at present, there is no way, in the directory listing itself, for an Episcopal Church parish to identify itself as "Anglican" -- something General Convention asked us to do, IIRC, in 2006.

Marshall Scott said...

Maybe more of the Draft Covenant has been revealed to the American Bible Society than to the rest of us....

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the smile, Marshall. Peace and joy...

IT said...

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Power games...

I had a similar clash with German Wikipeda yesterday. They don't want to fix a factual error in one of their entries - and try to stonewall (and blame) me...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Greg G of SF suggests that the original removal of the Episcopal Church from the list of denominations (and I've heard now from others who confirm it was there formerly) is a consequence of actions taken by the church, which (in his mind) render it no longer a Christian church. (He thinks I'm deluded for thinking it still is a Christian church -- and his acolytes chime in with the usual litany of Druid, Wiccan, Muslim, etc. They also charge that I spend all my time going about the internet digging up dirt on conservatives, and that I'm acting immaturely and reflexively. Interesting diagnosis... Appears to me there must be a shortage of reflective surfaces in SF-World, and a few physicians may be in need of some self-therapy. But I digress...)

So does Greg know something about the removal of the Episcopal Church from the listing that we don't know?

In any case, it's back on the list. At this point no church can list itself as "Anglican" unless it has "Anglican" in its name. Episcopal parishes will still show up if you search for all churches under the general category "Anglican" -- you just can't have "Anglican" on your directory listing unless you add it to your parish description -- which I just did for mine.

I suppose this situation, if it remains uncorrected, will be some comfort to the fewer than 150 congregations that self-identify under the "continuum" version of Anglicanism, as opposed to the 3,000+ Episcopal congregations who have listings at ForMinistry.

At this point, I think I've spent more than enough energy on this particular exercise; as my primary concern -- the fact that the Episcopal Church wasn't listed at all -- was addressed rather quickly. As to who deleted it originally -- if indeed that is what happened -- truly they have their reward.