img_2566Are you interested in photography?  Do you want a project for Lent?  Something mindful, contemplative and community centred?

Steve Radley is a priest and a photographer.  This is what Steve says about the project –

To help people both within the church and who have little or no engagement with the church learn to see their local environment in new ways leading to a renewed passion and appreciation for their community

To create a Facebook group for use from Lent to Pentecost Sunday which people can post pictures of their local community and environment. Weekly posts and podcasts will bring ideas on how to photograph the local environment and group members can comment on each other’s pictures.

How it will work
Each week throughout Lent an exercise will be posted to the group encouraging individuals to create photographic images within a certain theme. Themes will give some basic guidance on learning to see light, colour and composition but this activity is not intended to strive towards technical photographic perfection.

All images posted will be valuable as each is a gift from God, the guidance is intended to help us slow down and become more mindful during Lent.

All images must conform to Facebook’s rules. Racial, sexual, religious or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. Such behaviour will result in individual’s being blocked from the page and reported to Facebook.

How to join in
img_25591. Join the Facebook group: Lent through the Lens
2. Aim to post at least one image each week to the group.

Whist it is hoped there will be an intentionality behind creating these images, it is not anticipated there will be a rigid structure. Individuals can work on their own, perhaps committing to create an image on their way into work or school; friends could work together in twos or threes, perhaps committing an hour each week to this activity; or church leaders could meet people at specific times and photograph as a group. The intent is that this activity will become a part of our everyday activities and as such, flexibility is essential.

3. When you post an image, include your community name in the post. This will enable group members to search the group for images from their own community. Do not tag people without their permission.
4. Please look at the images posted and comment on the things which draw you into the image.
5. Please do not critique images from a technical perspective. That is not the intent of this group and Facebook has lots of other groups which serve such a purpose.

A repository of images will have been created during Lent. Guidance will be given through a series of posts during the Easter Season on how these images can be used as a means of offering prayers and thanksgiving for our parishes / communities. Principles of Visio-Divina will be used, along with ideas to print images and use images within acts of worship as a slideshow accompanied to music.

(Where images of young people or vulnerable adults are used within worship a safeguarding policy must be followed which includes obtaining appropriate permissions. Excellent guidance on this is given by the NSPCC.)

Theological Background
Richard Rohr argues we need to learn to become present, to see with a larger vision, and that such “seeing” is found through contemplation. We do not need more words which Christianity is good at, we need to learn to be contemplative and in so doing, discover riches we had not imagined (Richard Rohr (2009), The Naked Now, Crossroad Books: New York). Jesus was contemplative in the desert for 40 days, and this activity seeks to use the gifts we have in modern society of accessible photography and social media to learn contemplation in a new way. By utilising social media and digital photography which are accessible to most people, it is hoped the reach of this activity will be beyond those who attend inherited models of church and its fringe.

It is recognised not everyone chooses to connect through Facebook. This platform has been chosen as it has the greatest reach in terms of users, and the broadest demographic in terms of age profiles.

By using social media to share images and then using these images within an act of local worship, it is hoped a bridge between the virtual and real world can be created. Those who choose to remain anonymous can retain this choice. It is hoped the group can be kept open but the group admin will review this policy on a regular basis.