COI Gazette – 27th July 2019

Cyber-attacks: How to protect your church from cyber risk

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EU 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area, that came into effect on 25th May.

GDPR strengthens the rights of data subjects and enhances the powers of the regulators, who will have the power to impose fines on organisations that breach GDPR. All organisations, such as businesses, schools and churches, are required to become more aware of their obligations, particularly as individuals’ expectations of how their personal data will be protected and handled, evolve.

GDPR and cyber-attacks

The rise in data breaches and cybercrime has shone a light on internal data protection procedures within organisations, quickly becoming one of the greatest challenges that organisations face today. The explosion in technology and internet use has led to a significant increase in criminals using technology for financial gain or to maliciously damage and interrupt systems and services.



In ‘The Star Thrower’ by Loren Eiseley, a man is walking along the beach early one morning where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He notices a boy picking the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.

“The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the sea, otherwise they would die. The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? The boy picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean and said ‘Made a difference to that one …’”

Society clearly thinks big is better. It is obsessed with size over significance. The temptation can be just as beguiling for a church. Writing vision statements and strategies is something that many local churches have begun to do.

Whilst wanting a vision that is big enough to be inspiring, not everything that we do needs to be big. What is really needed is for us to think significant. ‘Big’ and ‘significant’ are not always the same!

It is all too easy to look at our local church and sigh inwardly, “This will never be what I want it to be.” That rather loses sight of the ‘Parable of the Mustard Seed’: Jesus teaches that God’s
kingdom will have small beginnings but grow to great significance. His kingdom does not operate on the same assumptions as the world.

Some success stories in business are good examples of growth from small beginnings. Duncan Bannatyne is famous for his former role on BBC’s ‘Dragons Den’. His own business career began with an ice cream van purchased for £450. He expanded by buying more vans and eventually sold the business for £28,000. His worth is now to be measured in millions. The beginning was not big, but the end was.

The scope of God’s kingdom in our own lives, or the life of our local parish, can seem a little small when it makes it off the page into reality. This is especially so when we are conscious of the scale of need that surrounds us. Yet, doing small but significant things can be the healthiest thing to do.

A small action can be a significant one. What we do may grow to something bigger but we begin where we are, with the resources we have. Or, as the prophet Zechariah reminded his listeners – do not despise the day of small things, or small beginnings. After all, there are plenty more starfish in the sea!

Adapted from ‘The Extra Mile: volunteering, church and community’


Home News

  • Bishops get close-up view of Bogside rioting
  • Faith rewarded on St Thomas’ feast day in Cashel
  • Statement by Bishop McKeown at ‘Not in my name’ rally
  • RCB participates in charities advisory group
  • Mission focus: Tearfund Northern Ireland
  • St Columba’s pilgrimage to Rathlin Island
  • New Mothers’ Union banner for St Mark’s Dundela
  • Diocesan Focus – Paul McFadden – Derry and Raphoe Diocese: a year in review


In perspective – Moira Thom – When miracles happen

Insight – Domestic abuse and the Church

World News

  • Archbishop of Canterbury makes a pastoral call after deadly Nigeria attack
  • Negotiations begin for ‘amicable separation’ following same-sex vote
  • Groundbreaking document on how Anglicans and Roman Catholics can learn from each other
  • Call for release of Aleppo archbishops
  • Indian Christians equip for evangelism
  • Bringing Churches and refugees together in Cyprus
  • Canada’s national Anglican newspaper raises funds


Feature / Book review

A turbulent priest?

A VERY BRIEF HISTORY Author: Anthony Kenny Publisher: SPCK; xvii, pp.122

News Extra

  • Forty years ordained
  • New resource to help with faith’s hardest questions
  • Christian Creation-care organisation hosts Bioblitz
  • Priorities Fund is now open for applications