|Dear Trudy and Mark,
Thanks for your webinar this afternoon. I appreciate you taking the initiative to communicate with us and provide a platform for a discussion.
I really like Mark's final idea about inviting other speakers and having further conversations about preparedness and collaboration.
Over the lockdown period, I experimented with various different ways of facilitating worship experiences for people. This changed and developed over time.
- I led a live-streamed service from Takapuna Church with no congregation - a really weird experience in a large empty space. I wasn't prepared for that!
- Made home based video clips of songs and music that people requested or were relevant to the day, theme or season.
- Made "Sunday Devotions at Home" videos with my husband and son that were emailed to various people and put on the Birkenhead Methodist Parish Facebook page.
- Emailed out written "Sunday Devotions at Home" in doc and pdf format for those who did not have video technology or know how
- Mailed out printed paper resources for Easter Worship for those without internet access.
- DIrected people to live streamed services on other Methodist Facebook pages.
- Attempted live streaming a Sunday service with a small group of people at the church, and discovered that the church office internet could not send a signal through a concrete block wall!
- Videoed Sunday services at church in level 1 and 2 that were edited shortly afterwards and then posted on Facebook and emailed to requestees.
- Took a daily photograph and posted it online with an encouraging verse or quote.
- Sent out text messages with encouraging quotes, and/or information about online services
This has been a steep learning curve and exciting but also stressful sometimes. Some things were not possible with the technology or expertise we had on hand. For example:
- having a video editing programme (non expensive) and knowing how to operate it.
- having a suitable camera or recording device for both sound and pictures.
- having a tripod to avoid bumps and jiggles
- having internet of sufficient strength and sufficient data
- parishioners not having technology to receive or download or play back, or the knowledge how to do so.
- lighting in videos is very important and not all home locations or church spaces are well lit.
- setting up technology takes extra time and rehearsal
Leading a worship service in a local setting in real time and making a video for the internet are two different things, and require different skill sets.
Some people got around this by having a Zoom meeting with their congregation, which is more informal by nature, but also has a completely different set of dynamics.
In my congregation, I did not have enough people who were sufficiently computer savvy to use Zoom, and I did not have the skills of knowledge to teach them.
Although I had participated in Zoom and Skype before, I had not "set them up" and didn't know how to initiate others.
Working across multiple communication platforms is very time consuming!
Everything had to be reformatted a number of times to be sent out to people who all had different technological requirements.
For example: Snail mail, landline phone, mobile phone, text message, email, doc, pdf, mp3, mp4, mov. and Facebook.
Covering all these bases took a much longer time than having everyone together on a Sunday morning.
A high standard was required, as this was now going out to more than just a local setting, and could be taken misinterpreted or taken out of context.
Once an email is sent, it can be forwarded anywhere in the world (and it was).
Online presentations can be viewed in any country.
As a presbyter, I may preach from personal notes and include abbreviations and my own markings,
sometimes I make little aside comments or jokes to lighten the atmosphere,
but if I am sending it out as a document to be read by others, I have to dot all the i's and cross all the t's.
and footnote my references, and copyright information,
and make sure everything is explained clearly and nothing is ambiguous.
Also, the font has to be easy to read, the spacing adequate and sometimes I added clip art illustrations to give it more visual appeal.
Similarly, if I'm singing and playing a song in real time, and make a mistake in real time, people may notice and then forget.
However, if it goes out on a recording or video on the internet, it may be replayed over again and that mistake is there forever!
- I was able to work closely with our parish secretary who had taken home the parish printer and was able to print and mail out Easter resources that we worked on together.
- My husband had a video camera and my teenage son is a good musician, and they both helped me heaps in making home videos. To start with, I just worked with the people in my home bubble.About a month in, I suddenly realised we had several people in the congregation who are gifted at intercessory prayer, and asked them to write and email to me a congregational prayer for each Sunday, which I used in our home made videos.
- We did not have the technology to film and edit in any other contributions.
- Rev Paulo Ieli broadcast a Samoan Methodist service from Ponsonby each Sunday and I could publicise the link for this to our Samoan congregation.
- Rev Peter Norman and others at Takapuna Methodist Church put together a Sunday video service with contributions from many people all edited together. This was a great resource and I advertised this link also. I didn't advertise any others because it was information overload.
A number of people seemed to appreciate the resources we sent out, and sent them on to family and friends around the world.
My elderly parents appreciated that they could see me on screen, if not in person!
For the Future
A few people have remarked to me that it would be good to have a regular Methodist service "Broadcast on line" each Sunday,
for those who are frail or indisposed or unable to come to worship for various reasons.
It occurred to me that some of our churches and parishes are well equipped to be able to do this, while others do not have the people or technical resources.
Now we are in Level 1, we are attempting to video our Sunday Service and put it online and email out to requestees, but we are relying on one video operator and editor who is using their personal equipment, and if they are away or too tired, this is not possible.
It would be easy to burn out on this!
Might it be possible to have some sort of system or roster whereby a service from somewhere in the Connexional is made available each Sunday?
Several parishes/presbyters could combine together for a Special Service, if they had time to plan in advance.
It could be a "live" service or filmed in advance.
Or maybe some people and places train and specialize in this area as a local/national ministry?
For the ordinary congregation member who might be rostered to work several Sundays a month, although they know there is a lot of material on the internet, where do they start???
We can no longer rely on TVNZ to provide this, and even "Hymns for Sunday Morning" is getting pretty tired nowadays!
I know that not everyone appreciates a traditional service, and that things are constantly evolving, but as Tony Franklin said, some sort of "Virtual Church" presence online for Te Hahi Weteriana would be something to consider.
We are all experimenting and upskilling in this area, and some of our colleagues are particularly gifted at it.
(That's another idea for a webinar - sharing practical skills and ideas for "Online Church". eg. How to run a Zoom meeting
How to live stream onto Facebook. How to set up a youtube channel. Things to consider in making a video service.
How to get participation in online worship. I have so many questions!!! )
And this does not begin to address the harder and much grittier issues of dealing with peoples' struggles and needs.
Housing, food, clothing, addictions, finances, climate change, racism, etc, etc.
Anyway, thank you for beginning a conversation.
Robyn Allen Goudge
Presbyter - Birkenhead Methodist Parish