Chaplains Blog – Stardate 13.09.2020
Jim’s further adventures in ZOOMLAND as we head ever deeper into Corvidtide.
Having had weeks at home running reasonably successful ZOOM services we headed to St Andrews Redruth this week to attempt to combine the church and ZOOM services, for which everyone I spoke to (both in the Church building and behind the computer screen) was universally appreciative and supportive.
The best thing about the corvid-restricted season in the Redruth Team has been seeing the very best in people – Christians showing much love and compassion and desire to worship and to pray having a go at pretty much anything we have tried. Of course there are always the odd dissenters behind the scenes like the person who filled in a recent questionnaire with contradictory but entirely negative answers but thankfully I did not have to talk to them….. and anyway they would not be watching me or indeed read text on a computer so I am pretty safe.
Last week I spent some hours rehearsing, testing sockets and leads and was all set for the service even with some praise from the Amazing Malcolm, our octogenarian organist as he came into church to the sound of “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven” belting out of the church PA.
The set up was as follows:
- Rector, Caspar’s phone as a ZOOM window pointing at the church congregation and
- his laptop as another ZOOM window on the new lectern (which John Doble might actually have made for this very purpose from an old pew) in front of the nave altar ZOOMing the president, the gospel reading and the sermon.
- My laptop was attached to the large projector and screen and running the PowerPoint and YouTube videos of hymns for folks both at home and in the pews. One of the home ZOOMers was to read the epistle!
It was going to be wonderful: we had tested everything, found out how to get rid of the weird echoes and howling feedback and finding the perfect volume settings for the congregation to hum to behind their face coverings.
It was only once the service began that things went wrong. My laptop refused quite arbitrarily to reject any communication with the lead to the PA which meant that the hymn would only play through the tiny projector speaker, or the laptop speakers…… and we could not hear the reader at all. We had to resort to an emergency external speaker. Folks at home however did get a reasonable experience even if they did have to endure the sight of me overheating and getting short of breath, patience and ideas behind my dashingly attractive lighthouse pattern mask. I nearly threw the wretched thing across the church at one point. Thankfully, Caspar ‘forgot’ to record the first part of the service for which I am most grateful so most of my public consternation does not appear on YouTube.
We learned lessons and there was a much that was good. The home congregation loved being part of church and seeing folks come up for communion. They loved the personal welcome and the chat afterwards- especially when the Rector, the Church Warden and the Organist all took time to come and talk to them.
So mightily encouraged, we decided we would try the same thing for Bishop Hugh’s visit to St Euny Church this Sunday for Mining Sunday.
One Friday morning, a Rector a Curate and a Reader went into a church……… We discussed where to put the screen and the projector and how to tap into the P.A. for the sound and tested it all out. Phones and laptops were positioned, projectors angled and microphones tested. Brilliant!
The thought was that Caspar’s BT wireless hotspot hub thingumajig would host a couple of laptops in church and I would operate everything else from my study at home. So after an hour or so I went home to try out the links.
I got online.
They Zoomed from St Euny
The gadgets all talked to each other
The video froze and unfroze, the sound spluttered and wobbled and the hotspot hub went on strike under the pressure of so much responsibility.
We discussed…… this time on a stuttering ZOOM connection. St Euny is down in a valley whereas St Andrews is high on a hill (this does not altogether accurately convey churchmanship) but probably goes some way to explaining the Wi-Fi issues. We could not be sure enough of the reliability of the kit to risk it. Our Zoom congregation have been so wonderful that we did not want to chance leaving them in a zoom limbo at some point in the service, nor did we want a less than reasonable sound in church so we decided that for this week the church service and the Zoom service would be two separate entities. Curate Graham and I will be ZOOming as normal and Caspar will video the church service for folks who want t catch up with it later. Or at least that is the plan…… J
Next week back to St Andrews; Sue has given me a visor so I can escape the mask. Aren’t God’s people wonderful and worth making the effort for!
The comfort of my study desk and a fibre optic broadband……. much easier than actually being in church with just the laptop…… but!!