Faith leaders share their tips for new modes of worship



  • NEAS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/29/2020 11:25:39 AM

As more faith groups discover alternative ways to worship, they are tackling new obstacles by sharing solutions and wisdom.

The Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey shared: “The Halifax Union Society is a small church with a number of folks who are technically challenged, or who do not have computers at all. We’re trying telephone conference calls. The only glitch for us is that we’re so used to conversing about the sermon or asking questions, that it’s hard to be able to have only one person at a time speaking. Other than that, it’s a way to be ‘gathered’ without putting anyone at risk.”

The Rev. Linda M. Rhineheart Neas (Interfaith/Interspiritual Ministry) reports, “I have been doing supply ministry for First Congregation in Sunderland and when I have served, I have provided a written script for those who might not have computers or who want to read along, as well as a video that I place on YouTube.

“My ‘tips’ are to try and make it something that is relevant now; don’t go too long — screen time for everyone has increased over the past three months and is the cause of many headaches and eye issues — and enjoy what you are doing. In other words, if being on camera completely freaks you out, don’t do it … do a recording or create a PowerPoint presentation to send out to the congregation.”

Annette Wadleigh reports, “The Bernardston Unitarians have enjoyed ‘seeing’ each other on Zoom every Sunday. Some join by computer and some by phone. We combine a coffee hour chat with some of our familiar rituals like responsive readings and lighting candles for our joys and concerns. We have introduced a variety of music into our Sunday morning hour from YouTube, or live piano and hymn singing. Our Meetinghouse Artists group also meets weekly by Zoom. We also had a discussion on voting and storytelling.

“In July, we plan to hold services outdoors at the Meetinghouse and in members’ gardens by invitation. Some of our members who are isolating stay in touch by phoning each other regularly. This has been a time when the companionship of like minds is very comforting, as well as sharing important help and information. Our schedule can be found at”

The Rev. Dan Dibble of the Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick said, “We are actively recruiting a media production assistant. Initially they will get us up to speed with the various social media platforms — how to use them, what to avoid and how to gear up for the next phase. We expect to be combining old ways with the new after the physical distancing requirements are behind us.”

Lay leader Dan Tinen shared his tips from conducting services of the Unitarian Universalist churches of Franklin County (All Souls Church of Greenfield, Bernardston Unitarian Church, First Parish Unitarian of Northfield):

“When conducting services over Zoom, it is helpful to have two screens, with the second screen dedicated to sharing of service elements. I download all readings and video clips into a PowerPoint slideshow in advance; if you try to share a video clip that’s in the cloud instead of on your own hard drive, you are doubling the traffic on your internet connection and risking a freeze. The main screen is dedicated to Zoom (and your sermon, if you’re reading from the computer).

“It’s also a good idea to use a real microphone with a USB audio interface instead of the one built-in to your laptop. Make sure the service leader is well-lit; any windows should be in front of you, not behind you. If you’re using lights, there should be one 45 degrees to your left, and another 45 degrees to your right, with a little fill from below.

“Ideally, someone else should be the Zoom host to monitor the waiting room, admit attendees, and muting and unmuting peoples’ microphones and video, allowing the service leader to concentrate on delivering the service. Remember to make the service leader a co-host if they’re sharing their screen.”

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