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A Zooming good Palm Sunday

by Michael Ford last modified 16 Apr, 2020 12:05 PM

Church is changing and, for some, it is changing rather quickly.

While across the Diocese social media and live-streaming services and messages of renewing hope have held no fears for the newly tech-savvy among our ministry teams, for others it has needed to be a sharp learning curve.

One such person is the Revd Trudy Hobson, Rector of the Upper Wylye Valley Team, who emailed us to say:

“I have attached a write-up on our first experience of doing a digital service using Zoom.

“I mostly want to encourage others to take the plunge and have a go at a digital service. I was really struggling with how to try and do a digital service, and it took all my courage to host and lead one.

“It worked amazingly well and I really want to encourage others.”

Here is Trudy’s experience of taking up the challenge to engage online:

“Being a rural benefice, our ministry team spent a lot of time reflecting on how we would do the same, and if I’m honest, I found the whole prospect daunting and a little scary. Even though I am put in the ‘young’ bracket in the diocese, technology has never been my forte and has rather passed me by. So, trying to ‘go digital’ is more than a little uncomfortable.

“In our context, we knew that social media would not be the best way forward for us. We do not have a team Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or any other kind of social media account. During these times, we are all having to cope with huge changes to our daily lives, and we did not want to cause more anxiety through introducing more change through trying to bring in a new platform from which to try and virtually gather together for a service.

“But after experiencing a Zoom chapter meeting, I asked God if Zoom could be the way forward for the Upper Wylye Valley Team. Almost everyone within our team uses email, and a Zoom service can be easily accessed through following a link in an invitational email.

“Christ tells us “where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:20) and in our world today, I know this is also true as we gather via technology. So we plucked up the courage and sent out email invitations to a Zoom Palm Sunday service. We had an amazing response, with over 80 people from across the team joining us.

“It is new territory for our team and everyone was very supportive and understanding as we were learning about various aspects of the technology before the service. We are very blessed in that one of my churchwardens uses Zoom almost daily with his work and he immediately stepped in to deal with the technology, freeing myself and my ministry team to concentrate on the service. Immediately after the service, we had many positive responses and requests for more, which we are now hoping to provide with our next service on Easter Day.

“If anyone is unsure at all about undertaking a virtual service, I can heartily recommend trying Zoom. We kept it very simple, and as it was completely new to us, for Palm Sunday we had a said service with no responses. We have learnt quickly that we can mute all who attend and unmute those who need to speak at their appointed time during the service.

"This has opened up to us more possibilities as we move towards our Easter Day service where we can now have responses and be able to shout out the Easter Acclamation. And as Zoom has a function where we can share website pages and videos during the service, we are going to have a few hymns with lyrics shared via YouTube so that we can all raise our voices in song and praise to God.

“Give it a try. Try a meeting or a practice service with your team or a few trusted friends. If this is all new to you, as it was to me, keep it very simple. But whatever you try, however it works out, it can only be a good thing and a success when we strive to bring people together to worship God.

“A few weeks ago, I thought of virtual and digital services belonging firmly in the domain of large city and town churches. I have learnt that this is not so. Rural churches can also gather digitally, to pray together, to be encouraged in serving one another, and to grow in the love of God. In these times, Church is changing, and the Upper Wylye Valley Team are moving with the changes to continue to renew hope in new and varied ways."

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