As diocesan Synod members gathered to elect three suffragan bishops on Sept. 17, onlookers from across the diocese and beyond were glued to their screens, watching events unfold. Using the hashtag #synodTO, the diocese shared up-to-the-minute news on its Twitter and Facebook channels, more than 100 posts in all. Synod members were also permitted to post from inside St. Paul, Bloor Street, sharing their insights, comments, photos and videos of the historic day.
This was the first time the diocese had shared updates from an Electoral Synod in real time, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Between Facebook and Twitter, the diocese’s posts were seen more than 211,000 times and received nearly 2,000 comments, likes, shares, retweets and replies – more in one day than in an average month of online activity. The diocese also earned more than 150 new followers, including many new Twitter users who appeared to have created accounts specifically to follow along.
Interest in the Electoral Synod was not confined to the diocese, as observers from as far away as Tennessee, California, the U.K. and Australia tuned in throughout the day. Many followers asked questions about the technicalities of Synod, such as how a nominee is declared elected, the mechanics of holding three separate elections, and who decides which bishop-elect is appointed to which episcopal area.
In addition to providing information, the diocese’s updates created an opportunity for conversation and community among those watching from afar. Messages of prayer and congratulation poured in from individuals, parishes, bishops and dioceses far and wide, and many followers expressed their thanks at being able to stay connected. @Chap_Brenda, a chaplain in Mississauga, tweeted, “thank you for the updates! It is difficult waiting in the outfields! Thanks to everyone for their dedication!”
The online conversation also provided a few moments of levity during the long day. Synod members compared snacks brought from home, an outside observer suggested an episcopal dance-off, and the Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, tweeting from inside St. Paul’s, said, “I think @anglicandioTO should commission white smoke/black smoke emojis for tweet-announcing an episcopal election.”