Well. These are interesting times, aren’t they?
When I decided that I wanted to be a pastor, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom (etc., etc., etc.) didn‘t even exist, so I had no reason not to assume that any ministry I did would take place in a physical building with other humans physically present. It was comforting to me to think that my background in theater, public speaking, and stage light design might come in handy as I created engaging services for a future church.
When I started seminary in 2012, we didn‘t talk about church websites or social media presence or audio files or copyright law. We practiced baptizing baby dolls, and memorized liturgies, and got comfortable using microphones, and went on field trips (to other denominations’ churches, to a cemetery, to a courthouse). I learned a lot from seminary and I will be forever grateful to the pastors, musicians, professors, and fellow students who taught me countless things…but it’s funny how many new things I’ve scrambled to learn over the past two weeks that never once came up in seminary.
In the past two weeks, I’ve learned how to host video conferences on Zoom, how to live stream a worship service on Facebook, how to add entirely new pages to the menu on our website, and how to set up lighting in my craft room to avoid looking like a shadow demon on camera (the struggle is real). I’ve learned that the internal microphone in my laptop is not ideal for live streaming; that copyright licenses often cover music that is sung in a live church service but not music that is recorded and uploaded to the internet; that according to our national church’s rules, I cannot personally cancel in-person worship but need the majority vote of our Session; and that the external microphone I bought offers significantly better audio quality (even if it also picks up on a wider range of sounds, including the cat on the other side of the door).
Needless to say, I know that I’ve certainly learned a lot of new things during these past two weeks…and I bet you have, too. I’d love to hear about your unexpected lessons and new skills!
I hope that many of you will join me Sunday as I live stream worship on Facebook at 10am. You can follow along with the prayers, readings, and hymns, which will be published on our website under the heading “Worship” in the main menu. After worship, you are invited to a virtual coffee hour on Zoom! There will be a link to join posted on our Facebook page, but if you don’t have the set-up to join a video conference, you could also join by telephone by dialing (312) 626-679 and entering the meeting code 113 977 353. On Wednesday at 8pm, I will be live streaming an evening prayer service on Facebook.
In light of our governor’s guidelines, and by the decision of our Session, we will continue to worship in our own homes until at least April 13. This is disappointing to all of us, and not a decision that was made lightly. As I begin to put together alternative services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter, I ask that you pray for me, just as I am praying for each and every one of you.