Outreach & communication

From assembly report May 2020.

In this section of last year’s report, we spoke about the many elements that make up the elcg-esc communications platform (website, physical mailings, emails, neighbourhood group communications, fellowship time together, specific activity announcements, published articles, FaceBook ) — and the weekly communications cycle (Sunday Bulletin, live announcements, website updates, weekly newsletter).
In short, it is quite difficult to not hear about our activities, and in good time to be able to participate !
It is clear that good broad communication is a vital part of our community life, as well as spreading beyond and thus becoming a way of reaching out to friends, colleagues, and potential new members.

I would like to focus this years report on the following:

Before our intern, Josh, left us last year, he had investigated and set up a podcast model and process which Andy is now using to provide regular content of prayers and sermons. This has become an even more important part of the remote offering during these current confinement times – it was especially valuable at the moment of a canceled Easter Vigil 2020. If you have not yet visited the podcast site, you can access it via the icon link on the front page of the website, or menu item: LATEST>podcast. Personally, I find the podcast a really calm and comfortable way to engage with the prayers and sermons uploaded there, and I thank all those who are contributing.

Live-streamed worship services (as well as virtual Sunday school, Bible study, Confirmation classes and Prayer groups) have replaced physical meeting at the church during the COVID-19 restrictions; our first live-streamed worship was on the Third Sunday in Lent, 15th March. As we gather remotely on the 7th June for our assembly, we will have streamed for the 15th time! For most of this period, we have been restricted to 5 people at the church, so have called upon many members to participate remotely, either through Zoom in real time, or by sending in pre-recorded segments of readings, prayers or enactments. In addition, to replace sign-up sheets for taking part in physical worship, Elisabeth, Donna, and others are calling around to identify both adults and children willing to ‘perform’ . Terry has led the process to allow for these various forms of remote participation, and we are so pleased with the response to our calls.

I think my biggest surprise has been the number of viewers on-line during the live-stream itself and the number of viewers in total who watch afterwards; we began with 270 live and have as many as 600 a few hours afterwards; I can only assume that our worship and news of our community is reaching far and wide. I will be writing an article about the technical side of live-streaming, but just a few remarks here.

  1. We live-stream to Youtube which has the advantage of global coverage and wide bandwidth. Also, there is no application to download in order to view the stream, and the live chat at the side of the screen can be viewed by everyone – as close to fellowship as we can get in these times.
  2. Before sending to Youtube, we use either the Zoom meeting application to bring in remote readers in real time — or a streaming software which allows us to line up pre-recorded videos and play them at the correct time during the worship. Using Zoom for real-time remote readers, requires a remote operator. Tom Davis has Zoom experience professionally and has provided that support a number of times, from his home.
  3. In the sanctuary we have two cameras, microphones for altar/ lectern and for music. There is a mixing desk and audio recorder, a monitor TV, and finally a video switcher to switch between cameras and titles, etc. At the start we had nothing except a MacBook and an internet connection; above all, our knowledge was sparse. Now we have acquired some bits and pieces and have learned a few essentials, but we have quite a way to go and I do envisage us improving the set-up so that we continue to be prepared for as long as necessary.