This policy covers the actions of St James Road Methodist Church employees, officers and those operating the social media accounts for the church, while acting on behalf of St James Road Methodist Church.
St James Road Methodist Church recognises that many people make positive use of social media for ministry and mission purposes and in a personal capacity as well. Whether acting on behalf of the church, or in a personal capacity, we must be aware that damage can be done to our mission if the work we do is not safe and respectful. This policy aims to ensure that where we use social media we are, as in all other areas of our work, ensuring that safeguarding is central to the mission of the church.
To contribute to the active mission of the church and to support the social media presence, and online witness, of St James Road Methodist Church.
- To maintain an active church profile on main social media platforms.
- To spread the good news of Christ to online spaces.
- To promote the online work of the Methodist Church in Britain.
- To develop new online aspects of church life that are safe and effective.
As a Church we commit to the following:
- It is essential that all our online and Social Media work is carried out according to the latest Methodist Church in Britain Connexional guidance or policy. The church social media guidance will be amended accordingly in such a situation.
- We will use, and promote the use of, social media, alongside other media, for the sharing of good news, helpful resources and communications that encourage the mission of the church.
- Any communication made through digital and social media should:
- not bring the Methodist Church into disrepute
- not breach confidentiality nor copyright
- not do anything that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual or group
- not contain content or images that are discriminatory or offensive (or links to such content)
- not be abusive or threatening or sexual or inappropriate in nature (or links to such content)
- Responsibility for oversight of digital and social media communications and reputation management primarily lies with the Communications Team.
- Our guidance for the content of our social media will include:
- We will keep within the core subject of the particular group, or the core mission of the Methodist Church
- Posts about activities or issues that are not specifically Christian in nature are permissible if they are of help to the work of the St James Road Methodist Church.
- Each person posting is accountable to the church for the things they do, say or write on church social media.
- Text and images shared can be public and permanent, even with privacy settings in place and so we expect contributors to show respect for all people, and to generate good conversations. If you’re not sure, don’t post it.
Consider the safety of yourself and others
It is important that the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults especially, must be maintained. Please read the Children and Youth social media and communications guidance for churches produced by the Methodist Church.
If you have a safeguarding concern, please consult our Safeguarding Policy for details of the relevant Safeguarding Officers.
Conversation on social media can sometimes develop into heated and pointless argument. Be aware of the effect on yourself, and don’t feel you always need to engage. You can always ‘sign off’ from a heated conversation calmly, with something like ‘I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. Peace.’
The administrators will reserve the right to delete posts.
- There will be a minimum of 2 administrators for each social media platform, with a member of the St James Road Methodist Church leadership team being one of these.
- Administrators for any St James Road Methodist Church social media channels will be appointed by the Communications Team and recruited according to safeguarding principles. A member of the Communications Team will always be one of the administrators of each church social media platform, for safeguarding monitoring and advice.
- Passwords for the accounts will be shared with two church members who will normally be officers of the church.
Respecting confidentiality should not be problematic in this new area. The existence of social media does not change the Church’s understanding of confidentiality. Within the life of the Church, there are private or closed meetings, private conversations and confidential matters. All involved have a right to expect others will respect that confidentiality. Breaking confidentiality in social media is as wrong as it would be in any other context. If a confidence is broken, it can spread via social networking with alarming speed and will be impossible to retract. It may be prudent therefore, to ensure those attending sensitive meetings or briefings understand the restrictions placed upon the sharing of that information.
The Methodist Church Report ‘Guidelines for Good Practice in Confidentiality and Pastoral Care’ forms the basis of any matter relating to confidentiality.
Photographs and Videos
- Photographs and video should never be taken during church services without the permission of the minister/preacher.
- Photographs and video should never be uploaded without the permission of the individuals involved.
- Photographs and video should never be uploaded which could misrepresent, embarrass, or compromise the individuals involved.
- Do not photograph or video children without following the Children and Youth social media and communications guidance for churches.
- Photographs should never identify children a young person by naming them in any comments/captions.
Other areas of consideration
- Respect copyright
- Respect libel and defamation laws.
- Never provide details of confidential matters or the performance of groups.
- When you do make a reference, link back to the source. Don’t publish anything that might allow inferences to be drawn that could embarrass or damage an individual.
- Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in a Christian environment.
- Don’t use Church or Methodist Church logos or trademarks unless approved to do so. If you do use them, please obtain the correct permissions and follow brand guidelines from the church steward on the Communications Team.
- Users’ social media communications are made in their personal capacity and not on behalf of St James Road Methodist Church. Statements made by members of the church community should not be taken as expressing the formal position of St James Road Methodist Church unless the writer is specifically authorised to do so by the Minister.
- Remember that whatever is written will reflect on the life and work of St James Road Methodist Church and will give an impression on those engaging for the first time. It should be positive, helpful and loving.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the St James Road Methodist Church Safeguarding Policy, Children and Youth social media and communications guidance for churches and with the latest Methodist Church in Britain guidance. Any updates of this policy and guidance will become the relevant ones at any time, as authorised by the Church Council.
Prepared by the SJR Communications Team
Next review date: November 2024