I have an over-abundance of thoughts for you all, both theological and organizational. I will try not to overwhelm you and will get to the organizational thoughts this week, and others in the weeks to come.
Background Thoughts on Online Meetings: With Pastoral concerns in mind, I wanted to make it through to Easter before we presented online video meeting options. It is good to have space and distance at times. We are the most connected age ever. Even while we are apart, we still see each other and talk with each other through digital means. As a Pastor, I agree that we can offer live online meetings for groups to continue. However, just because we are offering this, does not mean we have to strive to make sure every group that was meeting prior to continue meeting online. Pray about it, and then let us know.
Online Meeting Rational: In this season we would like to see groups still have the power to meet. Some have already begun. We want to offer church backed solutions, as well as some help along the way.
Online Meeting Difficulties: Our congregation is a mix of old and young. Searching for a good solution that works for non-tech persons, is not always easy, especially when you may have 20 other people jumping online from different computers, web browsers, phones, and more. Still, there are some good solutions available.
Online Video Meeting Options: The two options (and there are many more) that we are presenting to the Ministries and groups of the church are Zoom and Jitsi. Zoom grew from 10 million to 200 million in a short time and is being used by countless churches and businesses as we speak. Zoom has had its hiccups lately, as some of you may have read online. Most of their cyber security issues have been patched (which means fixed), and our hosting solution will be satisfactory. That being said, in the process of studying and trying out the options, I found another great (and free and secure) solution. It is called Jitsi. I personally prefer Jitsi, but most of you will likely already be familiar with Zoom, and both work great for our purposes. Please note, that if you are already using another video platform, (such as our youth group which got started right away), you are not required to use our video choices here. Keep using what works best. We want to help, not make things more complex.
Diverse Computer Systems: Both of these video options work on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers. Moreover, they work on Android and Apple Phones.
Your Ministry or Small Group: If your ministry or small group would like to meet online with Jitsi, then all you have to do is:
1. Make sure you have Google Chrome Browser or Microsoft Edge browser downloaded and installed. Jitsi prefers these browsers.
2. Go to the Web page https://jitsi.org/jitsi-meet/ and click the “start a call” button, which is down a little bit on the left. Or if you prefer to meet on your phone, download the Jitsi Meet app on your phone. Then you will start a meeting through the app on your phone.
3. After that, just follow what it says. Things like, “Can I use your microphone” or “Can I use your video camera.” You need to answer yes.
4. After it is finished, you will have the option of copying and pasting the link to send to friends. You will need to do this if you expect to have others join in. Then, you email the link. There is also the ability to set a password on the meeting as well. You can do this if you prefer.
5. The friends you emailed the link to, then just have to click the link and follow the prompts.
If you want to meet with Zoom, the Church purchased an official account. We did this because Zoom has some limits on meeting length if you use the free account. If you would like to use Zoom….
1. Write Vachelle in the office at firstname.lastname@example.org . She will either give you the account information or set up a meeting for your group at the right time with which you and your group can all join in on.
2. Zoom seems to work on every browser and phone, so it does have that as an advantage, which will help with larger groups.
I get the feeling that we still have some time before meeting in person regularly will be an option. If you would like to pursue online routes, then these are available to you.
Feel free to write Vachelle for the information and feel free to write me if you need something regarding this as well.