Last Saturday, we held a Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance for Pastor Denny Anderson. Denny was of course a member of Saint Michael but also so much more, including serving as the NE Synod Bishop and President of Trinity Lutheran Seminary. The current bishop of the NE Synod, Brian Maas, desperately wanted to attend the service and provide a leadership role, especially since Denny played a critical role in his own calling into ministry.
However, the wedding for Bishop Maas’s daughter was on the same day! So we decided to record the Bishop’s message at Saint Michael earlier in the week and then play that recording during the service and livestream. It’s not hard to insert videos into the livestream. The tricky part was also playing that video in the Sanctuary at the same time so that everyone could see and hear it. How could we do that in the simplest, yet most appropriate way?
The solution was to mount a TV on the back wall of the sanctuary and connect it to the computer we stream the service from. It was out of the way, could be seen by everyone in the room, and didn’t interfere with the aesthetics of the sanctuary. When the time came in the funeral service for the Bishop’s remarks, people simply turned to the back wall like they do when we turn to the baptismal font. It’s not the perfect solution but it worked well enough.
I want to thank Kevin Hyde, Bryce Kolund, and the electrician he somehow convinced to come after hours and install this Thursday night before the funeral. It was a great team effort.
So now what?
So now there is an 82″ TV in the sanctuary (although it looks very small in the space). So what does that mean? Well first of all it means that during the pandemic, we have expanded our idea of what it means to be “gathered” for worship. For a while, all of us had to gather digitally and screens were essential for our worship together. We became accustomed to interacting with one another in worship through the use of video and images. That might offer new possibilities for our worship life as we move into the future. None of us want to be a church with “jumbo-trons” and a ‘stage’. But we do value art and images. We nurture creativity and recognize the gospel can be shared in forms other than words. We actually have artists among us who create in digital formats.
So in the next few weeks, we will likely have an image up during worship. A thoughtful and thought-provoking image that will hopefully add to our experience of the gospel that day. Another possibility is to play a recording of the children’s choir so that every worship service can hear them or a bell piece at every service even if the musicians can only be present at one of them. Perhaps there might be a special speaker or guest whom we can hear from without them having to travel to Omaha. Sometimes the livestream itself might be on the screen.
Think of it as a small experiment and then based on the results of that experiment, we can talk together about what we want to do next. There are several possibilities to enhance this capability if we would like to without changing the “look” of the room. But we might also decide this isn’t something that would be helpful at this time. Either way, I’m glad we had the chance to use it at Pastor’s Anderson’s service. It made the best of a difficult situation and allowed participation that otherwise would have been impossible. I’m very thankful for that and look forward to the conversation that is ahead of us.