During this time as we respond to the spread of COVID-19, you may wish to provide live streams of services from your home while our church buildings remain closed.There are two free products that will help you do that. For either option, you will need: reliable high-speed internet and a computer with a camera, a speaker and a microphone.
The Rev. Kim Hardy has created downloadable leaflets parishes may use for online Morning Prayer in the season of Lent using the Book of Common Prayer or Enriching Our Worship. Download the resources here.
You may also join Bishop Shannon for twice daily prayer services as an example of how this can be done.
You can sign up for a free account here: https://zoom.us/signup. With the basic free account, you will be able to host a meeting with up to 100 participants and for up to 40 minutes. The benefit of Zoom is that you can see other participants in addition to the person leading the service, and other participants may lead certain parts of the service (readings, prayers, etc). Participants may join a Zoom meeting either using their web-based platform, or by downloading the Zoom software. Those without access to high speed internet may call in using a cell or landline phone. Those calling in will only have audio, so worship planners and leaders should be mindful of that.
The Getting Started page of the Zoom website has multiple helpful guides and tutorials.
For choirs or those interested in making music together on Zoom during this time, you may find this YouTube tutorial on Zoom “in music mode” helpful.
You can host worship on Facebook Live from your parish’s Facebook page. Simply let people know in advance that you will be hosting worship at a certain time on your parish’s page. First make sure you are an admin on the page. Then, at the appointed time, click “Live.” The benefit of Facebook Live is that many of your congregants may already follow your page, and it may be easier for them to go to a familiar “place” than to use Zoom for the first time. A possible drawback is some people may not have or want Facebook accounts, and only the person filming the video participates.
The Rev. Greg Johnston of St. Anne’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Lincoln, MA has created a useful video primer as well as a PDF guide to Facebook Live for churches.
Other free or low-cost online meeting platforms include: Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and Cisco Webex Meetings. You might consider one of these if it is a platform you are comfortable with and already use.
Please note when live streaming, standard music licenses do not cover streaming. There are a few ways to get around this if your services include music:
- Choose public domain hymns.
- Purchase streaming rights through OneLicense or CCLI. Note, OneLicense is now offering two different gratis license options valid through April 15, 2020.