The Worship and Arts Committee supports the staff in developing and presenting UCM’s Sunday services, and serves an important role in bringing congregational voice to our worship services. We are still in awe of how our UCM staff somewhat seamlessly transitioned our congregation to online services – a significant accomplishment in style and format, as well as technology! The W&A Committee is now working on a return to in-person, live services (as our UCM Guidelines for Reopening allow), while taking advantage of all that online technology offers. There is wonderful potential to increase access, expand our geographic reach, and explore diverse ways of communicating, advocating and building our community. UUA is currently using “multi-platform” to describe a combination of in-person and online options.
The “Tech Team,” part of the Worship and Arts Committee, has been researching the gear and technology required to offer dynamic online services in combination with the in-person, live services that we know and love. There are many considerations, and we want to offer just a few of our findings and priorities as we consider upgrading the technology in the Sanctuary:
- Ensure minimal impact to the physical building.
- Ensure minimal impact on the personal experience in the Sanctuary.
- Multiple cameras will be required, but we will not have camera operators (remote controlled cameras will be utilized).
- A “control area” will be necessary. We will set this up in the Sanctuary initially, as we determine the best long-term location (during our phased re-entry period).
- Audio is just as important (if not more) than video.
- It would be helpful to build a strong, dynamic Tech Team.
To make this jump in capacity at UCM the Tech Team is advising the Executive Team to make a significant upgrade to our digital presence by purchasing and installing a video production system, and to consider an additional ongoing cost to operate the system. Additionally, we want to build a rigorous Tech Team to support this upgrade; therefore an ongoing financial commitment would be prudent toward building internal capacity.
This is a wonderful opportunity to engage the community in storytelling, audio/video production and a wide range of digital arts. This is also an exciting opportunity for creatives of all ages, and certainly our younger folks, who have many gifts and skills in digital arts. Please send an email to UCM.Reopening@gmail.com with questions and comments.
Learn more about the Multiplatform Tech Upgrade Proposal
- Watch “Behind the Scenes: Rev. Joan’s UCM Tech Tour” to see the worship teams current tech set up (7 minutes)
- Read the about the proposal and the Tech Team’s plan on our website: Multiplatform Worship
- Watch the Tech Upgrade Presentation with Board President and Tech Team Member Vic Guadagno (11 minutes)
- Read the Warning (For the meeting on Sunday, June 3rd.)
Frequently Asked Questions:
When we return to in-person services, will we continue offering online services?
For many years, the church has known that there are many reasons not everyone can participate in worship in the Sanctuary. We began offering an audio feed to the Fireplace Room, then supplemented this with a video feed. The Worship & Arts Committee has also explored offering a Live Stream via the Internet for a few years prior to the pandemic. The pandemic forced us to move our Sunday service to an entirely online platform. We currently offer a live, virtual option as well as service recordings available on YouTube. We plan on continuing to make our Sunday services available online. To do so, we are currently considering a tech upgrade of up to $59,000 (which exceeds the $25,000 approved in the FY22 Capital Budget by more than $5,000). Our bylaws state that expenditures beyond $5K require congregational approval. We will vote on this expenditure at our June 6th Special Meeting.
What will our worship services be like? Will they be very different from services we had in the Sanctuary pre-pandemic?
Our goal is to return to the kind of in-person services we were having in the Sanctuary before the pandemic began in March 2020 while integrating an option for remote participation. We hope that our services will continue to be meaningful, engaging for all ages, participatory, and spiritually-nourishing. Not being able to sing together was one of the biggest losses during the pandemic. Group singing remains one of the highest risk activities for the spread of Covid, so we will be proceeding with care and caution as we re-incorporate in-person singing into our services. Having two audiences – in-person and virtual – also poses challenges and opportunities. With a dual-platform model, we will seek to find ways to engage all who are participating in ways technologically possible and appropriate. For example, we may have a simultaneous Chalice Lighting with someone in the Sanctuary and also someone at home lighting the chalice. We may offer options for both virtual and in-person sharing of Joys and Concerns. There are many possibilities for creating a meaningful hybrid worship service that draws us together in community.
Why do we need to spend additional money if we already offer online services?
UCM Staff has done a phenomenal job adapting to the online world. They have endured the stress of managing technical gear, while providing heartfelt worship services with ease and grace. Most of us in the congregation are unaware of the technical aspects involved in pulling off this past year of virtual Zoom services. Please note, at the moment Joan is in the sanctuary with wires running everywhere, computers and cameras precariously propped on stacks of hymnals, and the rest of the staff is doing variations of the same throughout the church and at their homes. Capturing video and audio, mixing it, and presenting it a meaningful and engaging worship requires appropriate cameras, mics, and all the support gear/technology. Moving from a completely virtual service in which worship leaders and participants are all on the same platform to a hybrid model, in which some participants are online and others in-person requires different technological needs.
Will there be ongoing costs?
The tech upgrade will require a dedicated person to operate the system each week. ORCA, our local cable access station, as well as local technical schools will be a good source for this type of skilled person. This will be part of future operating costs.
How can I get involved in the Multi-Platform production process?
Multi-Platform production creates a wonderful opportunity for storytellers, digital artists, video and audio producers and engineers, etc., etc. As we’ve seen over this past year, there is room for musicians and storytellers to produce segments for our weekly services — both digital and in-person. There will also be a live production team. Please contact the Worship and Arts Committee if you would like more information.