When You Can't Go to Church, the Church Comes to You!
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, audio-visual (A-V) technology connected us to the world outside our homes. We “zoomed” Bible Study groups, church officer meetings, and Sunday school classes.
Also, we were blessed with being able to worship online. It wasn’t the same as sitting in a pew, surrounded by friends, visitors and the majesty of the sanctuary. Still, we were fed by the sermons, sang the hymns, and passed the peace with those in our homes and with others online. It felt good to be “in church” virtually.
Our Business Administrator, Andrew Brown, shares, “Due to the foresight of our church leaders, the technology to worship online was put into place in 2019. A plan was mapped out, funding was secured, and equipment was ordered. Fortunately for MPC, the equipment install date was mid-March 2020 and Memorial went “live” April 5, 2020. We were able to broadcast on multiple platforms at the same time (church website, Facebook Live and YouTube Live), albeit still with only one camera.”
After working with this setup for several months, additional equipment was approved and a second camera was installed. Over time, a third camera was installed, and the entire camera switching system was upgraded to our current state.
More than three years later, worshiping online continues to be a blessing to shut-ins, vacationers, former members who have moved away, and a host of others. This capability is a blessing provided thanks to the audio-visual equipment and to the volunteers who learned to operate it.
Approximately 100 viewers join the service live via Facebook or YouTube. On Facebook, you can see comments of others and respond to them. It’s not the same as passing the peace, but it’s a great substitute.
“The real miracle is that we literally have a few hundred more watch the worship service at their convenience,” Brown said, “and that isn’t factoring in that, most likely, folks are watching with their family and friends, which would push the live viewing number up quite a bit. The services are posted on the church website and Facebook as soon as the livestream is over. “
If something prevents watching in “real time,” we can watch the service later – days or weeks later. Or, if a particular sermon or musical piece touches our hearts, we are blessed to be able to watch and listen to them over and over, and share them with family and friends.
More volunteers are needed as the Worship A/V Ministry continues to grow. And, additional equipment is on the wish list.
“The original setup in late 2014 was a stationary camera on the east wall. One person would press the record button before the service,” Brown said. “Once the service was over, that person would stop the recording. Then, a day or two later, a volunteer would come in, retrieve the recording via flash drive and upload it onto YouTube.”
“In fact, our church YouTube site has video recordings from December 2014, which can be accessed through our church website.”
In the current setup, two (ideally, three) volunteers are needed for each service. One operates the cameras, another toggles through the text you see displayed, and if there is a third, he or she stands by at the audio board in case there is a malfunction or a particular microphone volume is too low or too high.
Another blessing of this technology is the livestreaming of special events such as weddings and funerals. Oftentimes, it’s not possible to attend such events, but they can be watched in real time or later.
If you’d like to volunteer to be a part of the A-V team, please contact Andrew Brown at (904) 829-6451.
"Sevilla Street was blocked off and dozens of children and adults milled about in costumes, laughter filling the air. I walked along in the crowd and could honestly see God...even in the midst of Star Wars figures and ballerinas."
-Pastor Hunter Camp