Just the other morning, in one of the emails to which I subscribe, I saw a headline that made me laugh, “It only took a pandemic to make Facebook Portal a hit.” If you know what a Facebook Portal is, you must have one, because up until now they have been a sort of meh. Both Google and Amazon had their screen devices that allow searching, ordering, and live contact for some time and both were essentially a simplified iPad. Facebook came out with the Portal in response and found extraordinarily little excitement for their offering. But now, big hit. BIG HIT!
So, what does that mean for us at St. Michael & All Angels? I think you know the answer to that already. From our services to meetings, everything is virtual. Live yes, but through a screen. And, we need to connect!
There are so many ways to do this that it can even be confusing for those that have some familiarity with some of those ways. Imagine for a moment though what the staff has gone through trying to use these forms of communication in ways that are meaningful and connect with the parish community. It is all an experiment, so forgive us if we fail sometimes. We are learning as well.
We have reduced the number of Zoom events on our Live Stream Calendar. The ones that continue have links in the listing that you will find by clicking the red button, “The Live Stream Calendar” to the right. One that you will not find on the calendar is the Red Door event that follows Sunday morning services. Links to that are posted on Facebook Live comments as the service ends so if you want to take part, do not leave Facebook right after the service. Reconnecting once the meeting has started can be difficult. We are doing our best to make it safe for you.
An additional link has been added to the home page of the website just above the video in the center that will take you to our live Facebook video if there is one in progress. If it has finished, you will see it in the listing below the “Featured Video” unless it is the featured video. If you are a little early, just wait until the video appears. We will be starting the feed before the stated time of the service so that you have time to connect and get ready. As always, the leaflets for the service are available on the site if you follow the appropriate button and links are sent out in the E-blast as well.
The Rev. James Joiner has added Podcasting to our repertoire of offerings for Morning Prayer and the Evensong he leads. We are working on curating additional appropriate podcasts as well. There is a rich well of podcasts on practically every topic imaginable. If you are interested in podcasts, please look at the Episcopal Café website as it has a section devoted to them. Click here for that page on that website.
Some have found that the comments that scroll on the side of the Facebook live feed are distracting. Here are a couple of links about turning them off that should help. From Facebook Help Center: https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=10154540231197449 and here is another from a tech blog: https://www.techentice.com/how-to-disable-comments-during-a-facebook-live/. The second is very comprehensive but has a lot of ads that I think are more distracting than comments, but the advice is good. Also, here is a link to a site with advice on how to watch Facebook Live that you might find interesting as well: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-watch-facebook-live/.
We will also be experimenting with a new form for the weekly email. We will be testing it out, sending to those who are interested, and asking for a little feedback to see if we are making good choices in how we communicate. If you would like to participate in our “Beta testing,” click here to sign up.
We also want to express our gratitude for the feedback we have received about the live streaming events, where to find them, and how to make it work better. In so many ways, while the time is testing us all, it is also providing us with an opportunity to learn and grow as we make all our forms of communication better.
The Staff at St. Michael’s