Sunday Services in 2021 Our in-person Sunday Services always involved numerous volunteers to organize the many aspects of the weekly service. Switching to Zoom services was a huge challenge, requiring a staggering number of people who contribute time and talent weekly.
The team gets together by Zoom each Friday at noon for a weekly rehearsal to determine order of all the details of videos, music, centering sounds, candles, readings, speakers, etc.
In addition to our central Zoom team, add guest ministers, guest lay speakers, and several members of the Sunday Service Committee who have worked behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
How We Got There Before the middle of March 2020, many of us had never heard of Zoom. Fortunately, UUFSMA President Dan Neuspiel had! When the reality of the spreading COVID virus became real in San Miguel in the middle of March, the UUFSMA COVID Task Force was formed – of doctors, nurses, health care specialists – and they made the prudent decision to immediately discontinue in-person Sunday services and switch to online services by Zoom.
The month prior we had hired an audio engineer who began running our sound system and helped improve audio dependability on Sunday mornings. Soon he would prove to be a lifesaver, assuming the role of technical director for both audio and visual elements of our virtual Sunday services.
We soon noticed that people were tuning in by Zoom from not only SMA but all across the USA and Canada. It was a treat to see familiar faces, and we felt blessed by the connecting power of Zoom. As a matter of fact, when we do return to in-person services, we plan to continue Zooming the services to those members far and wide who are now passionate about staying connected.
Our Sunday Service Committee team was accustomed to timelines and coordinating publicity and personnel and readings and hymns for in-person services, but now it became essential that Zoom service participants have a newish, fast computer, with a high-quality camera & lighting, and – most challenging – dependable, fast WiFi upload for broadcast.
Singing along is impossible on Zoom since there is a time delay between participants and the broadcast, so we tried playing hymns on solo piano while projecting the words on the screen – without great results. We then tried pre-recorded music on piano or organ and sang along live. Better, but too much work! So we turned to UU hymn music videos. It’s become fun to see others singing ‘our’ hymns and it’s possible to sing along (while muted) at home.
When two members planned their service together in late May, they decided to pre-record their 20-minute talk out of an abundance of caution. We were again in uncharted waters, but suddenly we were in a new video world of opportunity.
Now we could broadcast music videos on our own Zoom services! Since June, we have been taking full advantage of the rich opportunities to share indigenous music making, High Holiday cantors in gorgeous synagogues and virtual musicians of every age, color and national origin. Incorporating videos into our services has been well received and offers us a rewarding world of variety and potential.
Opportunities to Help Do you enjoy organizing? Is public speaking easy for you? Would you enjoy searching for music videos which support the service topic? Do you have talent in writing or editing? We could always use more hands on deck to share the ongoing work! Please reach out if you’d be able to volunteer to join the Zoom Team of the UUFSMA Sunday Service Committee.