The Church of Lemons

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Name: The Church of Lemons
Date(s): December 2003-2012; 2020+
Moderator(s): the Black Rose, Grandlarseny, Omnicat
Founder: the Black Rose & Loyce
Type: date pledge to provide a lemon
Fandom: Gundam Wing; eventually open to broader anime couples (het)
Associated Community: Love Reflection 2 Mailing List (LR2ML) a private Yahoo Group
URL: Church of Lemons on Tumblr
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The Church of Lemons (CoL) predated the bang format. Run exclusively on the Love Reflection 2 Mailing List (LR2ML), a private Yahoo Group; The CoL 'contest' was a challenge format aimed at creating new content for the Gundam Wing Heero/Relena pairing.

The format was simple: writers and artists could pledge to post on a date, usually beginning on Valentine's Day, and running between 14-45 days (depending on how active the fandom was at the time - it started at 30 days, grew to 45 days in 2005, but in later years, shrunk to two weeks).

The original challenge format was the main pairing needed to be Heero/Relena; secondary pairings could be anything - as long as Heero and Relena were romantically involved (and could not be broken up). The 'pledge' (art or fic) needed to contain some romantic activities, but did not have to be explicit.

The story content (or artwork) needed to be newly created for the challenge (prologues or epilogues to other works were permitted), and could not be posted anywhere until at least 48 hours after being posted to the LR2ML.

In December, the group would begin planning. The list of additional anime fandoms that would be included became a topic of discussion in later years' planning sessions. The LR2ML would pick the number of days / weeks and when it would begin in February (often times bleeding into the early part of March).

A "Sinner" would be chosen (or co-sinners, sometimes). The joke was that whomever had "sinned" against the Heero/Relena pairing (from the list of 'dedicated' Heero/Relena fans) most egregiously would have to write lemons for every day of the chosen period of the challenge - unless the Sinner(s) could get other people to Pledge content for a day 'in lieu' of the Sinner's lemon - to help "save their fandom soul". Hence the Church of Lemons.

It was all tongue-in-cheek; the very first CoL was conceived as a way of teasing the Black Rose's best friend Loyce for writing a Heero/Hilde lemon.

Subsequent years' Sinners included Wicked Child, Ms Sin, and others.

All in all, it was the first 'contest' that was more about Community and creating new content - as opposed to 'judging' fics and awarding badges. the Black Rose often refers to the concept as "Digital Stone Soup" - in reference to the book Stone Soup by Marcia Brown.

As part of the effort to include everyone on the ML - creators and non-creators alike - there would be a drawing at the end of the challenge. Cheryl Lee, a doujinshi dealer, would give away a doujinshi to the winner of the drawing. Creators (writers and artists) would be entered for every pledge they posted. Those who were readers could get an entry for every 5 comments / reviews posted. This was on a private mailing list, so there was no public 'scorekeeping' at the time. It was just a method to try to encourage feedback and a way to try to include the entire LR2ML community in the challenge.

Those who would opt to "mod" the year's event, including the Sinner, would often pitch in and pinch hit in case someone had to drop out or trade dates.

The challenge was unique for its time - in its format, and in that it was focused on primarily Heero/Relena as most Gundam Wing contests and challenges were predominantly focused on the Heero/Duo coupling.