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Three hundred participate in 1001 Zoom conversation on streaming worship services


Podcast host Marthame Sanders and participants share best practices for online worship

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

A maximum number of 300 participants — some had to be turned away — joined 1001 New Worshiping Communities leader the Rev. Marthame Sanders Thursday for a Zoom conversation about streaming worship online. (Photo by Paul Seebeck)

LOUISVILLE — As 300 people, including a pastor from Ireland, gathered via Zoom for conversation on best practices for streaming worship services, the host, the Rev. Marthame Sanders, began by asking for grace to abound — and that those gathered would remember that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Continuing to pray, he said, “For we look to be your incarnational presence in the midst of this global crisis (COVID-19).”

Then noticing that many who were joining in the conversation via a chat room were new to Zoom, he congratulated them and paused for just a moment to celebrate their accomplishment

Sanders, who currently hosts the podcast Aijcast, a 1001 new worshiping community in Atlanta,  acknowledged that he is more of an expert in audio, rather than a video. But he nonetheless shared practical tips and technology tools that might be helpful for leading worship virtually.

The tools he covered are here — and they’re available for download.

Sanders encouraged those gathered to utilize the technology experts available to them in their networks of family, friends and congregations.

“I’m a Gen Xer, who set the clock on my parents’ VCR because that was overwhelming to them,” he said.

But now when Sanders doesn’t know how to use his iPhone, he turns to his 9- and-13-year-olds.

“They are the digital natives,” he said. “Use their expertise.”

Throughout the conversation, Sanders reminded worship leaders that they should be willing to fail, and to experiment and try out new stuff.

“Be willing to get it wrong,” he said.

As Sanders talked through his technological tips, others shared what they were learning with each other in the Zoom chatroom — including PC(USA) minister Rev. Jared Stephens, who currently serves a Moravian community in Northern Ireland.

Beyond the technical content, he said he felt connected with many others struggling to be church in these rapidly changing times.

“I have already shared it with a Catholic priest and Presbyterian ministers,” he wrote. “The upside to all of this is that we are finding this to be a time of sharing, as we come closer together as Christians during these difficult times.”

Because the limit for this event was 300, people were turned away from Thursday’s Zoom event. An audio recording of the Zoom conversation is  available here.

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