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Virtually Yours? Improving email communication in pastoral care. Margaret Whipp “Technology has become the architect of our intimacies” Sherry Turkle. Small scale research. Aims

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virtually yours improving email communication in pastoral care

Virtually Yours?Improving email communication in pastoral care

Margaret Whipp

small scale research
Small scale research


  • Improving email communication
  • Themes and virtues for reflective practice


  • Literature search
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Email survey
  • Observing good practice
virtual pastors
Virtual Pastors
  • Emerging patterns of missional communication are widely promoted and researched
  • Email is widely used in pastoral contexts, but under-researched
  • Available guidelines are defensive, relating to safe practice
  • Wider lessons may be drawn from similar professional groups
connectivity and its discontents
Connectivity and its discontents

Email is a powerful and seductive tool

It is too easy to succumb to the fascination of technology, to deify it; humanity too easily finds itself in the service of new gods.

J-N Bazin and J Cottin

critical threads
Critical threads
  • Seeking words of wisdom
  • Digital culture
  • Email composition
  • Pastoral challenges
critical threads digital culture
Critical threads: digital culture
  • Accessibility
  • Screen and body languages
  • Asynchronicity
  • Privacy
  • Permanent record

Any medium has the power of imposing its own assumptions on the unwary.

Marshall McLuhan

critical threads email composition
Critical threads: email composition
  • Length and brevity
  • Terms of address
  • Format and tone
  • Clarity
  • Informal language
  • Ending
  • Copying and forwarding
critical threads pastoral challenges
Critical threads: pastoral challenges
  • Stewardship of time
  • Choice of medium
  • Email accounts
  • Digital divides
  • Managing conflict
  • Deliberation
  • Expectations of reply
  • Safe practice
digital virtues
Digital virtues

1 Mayeroff, Milton. 1990. On Caring.

gracefully yours
Gracefully yours...
  • Humane conversation
  • Hospitable conversation
  • Holy conversation

Inasmuch as you did

it to the least of these


core bibliography
Core bibliography

Bazin, Jean-Nicolas, and JérômeCottin. 2004. Virtual Christianity: Potential and challenge for the churches. Geneva: World Council of Churches.

Howe, Mark. 2007. Online Church? First steps towards virtual incarnation. Cambridge: Grove Books.

Mayeroff, Milton. 1990. On Caring. New York: HarperCollins. Original edition, 1971.

Pickell, Travis. 2010. 'Thou Hast Given Me a Body': Theological anthropology and the virtual church. Princeton Theological Review (Fall 2010):67-79.

Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.