St Andrew's

Psalter Lane


IT, Social Media and Email Policy

St Andrew's Psalter Lane Church


IT, Social Media and E-mail Policy



Use of Computer Equipment

In order to control the use of St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church (SAPLC) computer equipment and reduce the risk of contamination, the following will apply:

  • The introduction of new software must first of all be checked and authorised by the Property & Finance Committee, after consultation with the IT support company (who?), before general use will be permitted.

  • Only authorised persons should have access to SAPLC's computer equipment.

  • Only authorised software may be used on any of SAPLC's computer equipment.

  • Unauthorised access of to the computer equipment is not allowed.

  • Unauthorised copying and/or removal of documents is not allowed.

  • Unknown files or messages should never be introduced into the system without first being checked for viruses.





Where appropriate church staff and members are encouraged to make use of the Internet as part of their legitimate church activities.

Attention must be paid to ensuring that published information is relevant and accurate before material is released in SAPLC's name. Where personal views are expressed, a disclaimer stating that this is the case should be clearly added to all correspondence.

Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright must not be compromised or infringed when publishing on the Internet.

  • The availability and variety of information on the Internet means that it can be used to obtain material reasonably considered to be offensive. The use of the Internet to access and/or distribute any kind of offensive material can result in disciplinary action, including summary dismissal.




Social Media Policy (Based on the Diocese of Sheffield Social Media Guidelines, as updated 8th February 2017)


Within our community, more and more people are using social media as part of their ministry. St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church (SAPLC), the Diocese of Sheffield, the Sheffield Methodist Circuit and the wider Church embrace this, acknowledging the value of social media as an important missional tool. Through social media we can connect with people where they are and build relationships with those we might struggle to reach through other channels.


Social media is immediate, interactive, conversational and open-ended. This sets it apart from other forms of communication and demands a new way of thinking. As well as the many opportunities, users should also be aware of (though not put off by) the associated risks.


These good practice guidelines have been compiled to help clergy, office-holders and staff already active on social media (or thinking about it!) fulfil, with confidence, their role as online ambassadors for their local parish, the wider Church and our Christian faith.

All are based on principles of common sense and good judgement. Essentially, you should participate online in the same way as you would in any other public forum. Your actions should be consistent with your work and Christian values and you are responsible for the things you do, say or write.


Types of social media

Social media can be difficult to define but is generally seen as online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Popular examples include: WhatsApp, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, websites, Soundcloud, Audioboo, Foursquare, Google+, Flickr, Instagram, Linkedin, Yammer and Pinterest.



1. Don’t rush in

The immediacy of social media is one of its benefits – we can respond quickly to questions, correct misunderstandings, give our perspective about a breaking story in the news media. Responding quickly doesn’t mean doing so without due consideration. Before posting always think:

• Is this my story to share?

• Would I want my boss to read this?

• Would I want God to read this?

• Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper?

This applies even before you start posting your own content. Spend a while listening to others, getting a feel for the tone in that particular forum, giving thought to how you might participate.


2. Transient yet permanent

Social media updates are immediate and will outdate quickly BUT they can have a more lasting impact and you should assume that anything you post is permanent. Even if you delete it later on, it may have been seen and re-published or referred to elsewhere.


3. You’re an ambassador

Like it or not, if you are ordained, lead in or are employed by the church, others will see you in your public role as a representative of the church. If talking about a church matter, make it clear that these are your personal opinions and not those of SAPLC.


4. Don’t hide

Anonymity and ‘hiding’ behind aliases when using social media is frowned upon. It’s also at odds with what we consider the main reason for using social media networks. How can anyone really connect with an alias? On any social media platform, if you choose a username or profile different to your real name, include brief personal details in the about section.

When the account is a shared one, for example, a Facebook page, ensure people can easily find out who is responsible for the content. Prosecutions have now been brought against those using anonymous accounts to post threatening comments to others.


5. Blurring of public/private life boundaries

The distinction between public duties and private life is difficult to draw. It is no different online. There are risks associated with personal opinions being seen as public statements, a minister’s private life being invaded and the difficulties of detaching from work. Consider setting up different accounts for ministry and personal use to help set definite boundaries. Use privacy settings wisely.

Staff should not feel they have to blur these lines if they do not wish to. Official accounts exist for the Diocese for work-related communications.

6. Safeguarding

The informality that social media encourages can mean that it might be harder to maintain a professional distance that is required when working with children, young people and the vulnerable. Communicating directly online with someone, for example with private messaging, is like meeting them in private. You’re advised to send messages to groups, rather than individuals, or share them publicly.

IMPORTANT: This is not a replacement for SAPLC’s Safeguarding Policy and must be read in conjunction with this document. See:


7. Stay within the legal framework

Whilst sharing thoughts and reflections with friends or followers via social media can seem personal and private, it is not. By law, if one or more people can access it, content is classed as published, in the public domain and subject to legislation around libel, defamation, copyright and data protection. If you wouldn’t say something in a public meeting or to someone’s face or write it in a newspaper or on headed paper – don’t say it online.


8. Confidentiality

Use of social media does not change the Church’s understanding of confidentiality. Within the life of the Church there are private meetings and conversations, particularly in terms of pastoral work. Breaking confidentiality is as wrong as it would be in any other context. Arguably, it is worse as via social media a broken confidence could spread rapidly and be impossible to retract. Remember: Is this story mine to share? If in doubt, don’t.


9. Be mindful of your own security

Don’t overshare personal information. Never publish detailed personal information such as your address or telephone number, unless in a private message to someone you know and trust. If you receive communications via social media that are malicious, upsetting or a personal or reputational attack, alert someone at Church House. You do not have to live with this and actions can be taken.




E-mail Policy

The use of e-mail is encouraged


Authorised Use

Church employees and members using e-mail and other forms of electronic communication, such as WhatsApp, should give particular attention to the following points:

  • All e-mails must comply with the church's communication standards.

  • E-mail messages and copies should only be sent to those for whom they are relevant.

  • Abusive emails must not be sent.

  • If e-mail is confidential, the user must ensure that the necessary steps are taken to protect confidentiality as SAPLC will be liable for infringing copyright or any defamatory information circulated either within the organisation or to external users of the system.

  • Offers or contracts transmitted via e-mail are as legally binding as those sent on paper.

  • E-mail users will be issued with a confidential password which may be changed at irregular intervals. Access to the e-mail system using another employees password can result in disciplinary action, including summary dismissal.

  • Any failure to observe these guidelines can result in disciplinary action, including summary dismissal.

  • All e-mail users are encouraged to use ‘Blind Carbon Copy’ (BCC) not ‘Carbon Copy’ (CC) when sending e-mails to multiple users, to avoid publishing e-mail addresses unnecessarily and potential against their owner’s wishes.

  • In order that all employees are able to maintain an appropriate work/life balance, all e-mail users should note that they are not expected to be available at all times. Users are encouraged to stick to ‘office hours’ when replying to e-mails etc.


Unauthorised Use

The church will not tolerate the use of the e-mail system for unofficial or inappropriate purposes, including:

  • Messages that could constitute bullying, harassment or other detriment.

  • Unauthorised personal use, chain letters, chat-rooms or other unacceptable private matters.

  • Online gambling.

  • Accessing or transmitting pornography.

  • Unauthorised or inappropriate use of e-mail may result in disciplinary action, including summary dismissal.


Implementation of the Policy

Monitoring of e-mail messages may be carried out on a random basis. Hard copies of e-mail messages will be used as evidence in disciplinary proceedings. All e-mail messages are retained within the organisation for a period of time.


Users are reminded that the mere deletion of a message or file may not fully eliminate it from the system.


Users are required to be familiar with the requirements of The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) and to ensure that they operate in accordance with the requirements of the regulation. Details are available in the SAPLC Data Privacy Notice at


It should be noted that this Policy is equally relevant to volunteers and to paid employees.





The IT, Social Media and E-Mail Policy will be reviewed annually. The next review is due in February 2025. This version agreed and accepted by the ECC, 19th February 2024.

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