Is Charmander in your church?

How about Graveler in the graveyard … no?

Churches and Cathedrals are making the most of the biggest web game released in the last few years.

With the mighty connective powers of smartphones, GPS, and virtual games Niantic have created Pokemon Go.

Pokemon, short for Pocket Monsters is a hugely successful game brought out 2 decades ago by Satoshi Tajiri a Japanese man who as a child loved catching bugs and insects and decided to try and find a way of duplicating that excitement.

When the electronic game was first launched in 1996 it took a few months to get going then 6 months later the cards were developed. Adults and children went crazy buying,collecting,swopping and fighting their Pokemon very much like the old football cards but the genius of Pokemon is that every creature has strengths and weaknesses and in order to do ‘battle’ to capture (win) each others creatures the player has to think very carefully. Each Pokemon belongs to an element or realm IE fire, water, electricity, woodland, day, night etc, there are normally 3 evolutions that can occur, I like to think of them as infant, junior and adult with each growing in strength, power and guile. Carefully thought out battles in Gyms strengthen the Pokemon but if there is a miss-match they are weakened and made easy to capture and are lost to your adversary.                                            See Bulbapedia for more info

With places of interest and landmark areas having a good supply of virtual Pokemon   churches are cashing in on the extra footfall by registering to become a Pokestop, a place where people can gather, chat and replenish depleted stocks. A Birmingham church, for instance, has now placed a sign encouraging fans of the game to come back for Sunday mass.                                                                                                                                                                “You are welcome, visit us again for Sunday morning worship at 11am,” the sign reads.

“Join us for a cup of tea after the service at 12.15. Jesus cares about Pokemon gamers.”

Portsmouth Cathedral were very quick off the mark with their Facebook and Twitter feeds posting pictures of caught Pokemon very early on.

With so many youngsters gathering in churches and Cathedrals the C of E was very fast in bringing out ‘Best Practice‘ guidelines and rules.

Here is what the BBC had to say;

Pokemon Go: Churches encouraged to welcome visiting players

  • 19 July 2016
  • From the section UK

Anglican churches have been urged to welcome players of Pokemon Go who use their premises as Pokestops.

The online game – which is attracting millions of new players – involves finding virtual Pokemon characters in various real locations. Several churches have been designated as Pokestops, which players visit to collect items during the game.

The CofE has said the game gives church communities a chance to meet more local people.   It has issued guidance to churches around the country, encouraging them to welcome players who visit them as part of the game.

Pokemon Go launched in the UK on Thursday, and has proved popular with people around the world.

Church locations which have been registered on the game as Pokestops include St Stephen’s in Rednal, Birmingham, Hope Church in Islington, north London, and St Mary’s Episcopal cathedral in Glasgow.

The Church of England’s digital media officer, Tallie Proud, issued guidance to churches on Thursday.  In it, she said: “Pokemon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

“You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your ‘PokeStop’.”

Church communities have been encouraged to place welcome signs outside and hold so-called “Pokeparties” for players – one is planned for Christ Church in Stone, Staffordshire, on Friday evening.

One Pokemon player, Matthew Newbold, 22, from Peterborough, tweeted: “Pokemon go makes me such a better person. Had a charity coffee on my hunt for Pokemon at the church.”

However, the Church also warned of the potential danger to young people playing the game.

“Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe.

“Our first priority as a Church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokemon Go,” said its guidance.

Not only Anglican churches are involved. Earlier this week, City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham signed up to become one of the real-life locations used as “gyms” in Pokemon Go, where users can train virtual monsters.

So there we have it!    Like it or loath it there a thousands more people of all ages outside wandering around our lovely churches and landmarks.  How you choose to engage with them.or not, is up to you.

Happy hunting.      Gotta catch em all!

Screenshot at 2016-07-22 07:39:46

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