Our lightly-programed Meeting for worship on 12/26 had some technical problems. We had trouble providing consistent audio to both in-person and online worshipers, leading to delays, missed communication, and a lack of interconnection between folks online and folks on the lawn.
There was a lesson from this week that we on the tech crew take very seriously: Our electronic setup is complicated. When we change it, there can be unforeseen results. While we haven’t traced the exact cause of this week’s problems, they were almost certainly caused by the history of our recent online sessions:
- On 12/12 we held a called meeting that integrated friends indoors in the Meeting Room with friends online.
- The following week, 12/19, we held an online-only Meeting for Worship through Zoom and Facebook.
- This week 12/26 we were back to a hybrid in-person-outdoor/online Meeting for Worship.
Each of these physical configurations calls for a different combination of computers, equipment, speakers, software, and software settings.
The tech team doesn’t always have enough time and staffing to test fully every microphone, Zoom source, online output feed, and set of speakers. Often it is hard to get all our equipment set up with enough time for testing. For example, we had about an hour to turn around from Meeting for Worship to the called meeting on 12/12. If you were at the called meeting, you will remember a lot of echoes and feedback problems, which we were troubleshooting on the spot while the meeting tried to focus on business. It was our first try at combining online and indoor two-way communication at that scale. By the end of the meeting the sound quality was better, but we didn’t feel that we had solved all the problems.
Please remember that we are not a mega-church with a large professional IT staff, nor do we want to be. While we are learning to manage the different configurations, we ask for your patience and understanding that our volunteer time is not infinite. In return, we will work at improving each configuration and at making our transitions more reliable. And we will add in the new configuration soon, to allow worship in the Meeting Room with Zoom-supported overflow participation from down the hall.
We have not forgotten the testimony of Simplicity in all this. We are simply learning to balance it with the support and outreach called for in the testimonies of Community and Equality.