Starting back in December, some members of our Outreach Committee decided to pilot internet-based, live, video-conferenced Meetings for Worship. I got the idea from a Friend from Perry City last year, as we discussed the potential of using technology to reach more young people with our Quaker practice. We are blessed in Buffalo Meeting to have Karen and Matthew with their expertise in technology to guide us through setting this up via a web-site called Zoom.us. We are very grateful to Friends Peace Teams East Asia (especially Fenna and Nadine!) for allowing us to use their Zoom account as we pilot this initiative.
We meet at 7:30 p.m on each second and fourth Wednesday of the month.
The experience takes a little getting used to, as we all log in from separate places (usually our homes) and through Zoom’s visual interface we appear on each other’s computers or smart phones. It reminds me a little of the old game show, Hollywood Squares with each of us occupying a grid square on the screen.
The immediacy of seeing and hearing each other at home is initially very pleasing and fascinating. After a while, it feels as common as seeing each other in person.
Each person can mute their computer so if you have background noise, like a dog barking or a phone ringing, you can spare everyone else the background noise! I even called in using my cell phone from an Amtrak train back in January when I was traveling and not able to join the Meeting from home. Unfortunately I forgot to mute my phone so everyone in Meeting for Worship heard that we were entering the station in Rochester!
The reason I value this new form of Meeting for Worship is it brings me together with Friends in the middle of the week. I feel the same spiritual connection I have during regular Meeting for Worship. This internet experience reminds me that spirit is available to all of us everywhere at all times. I always come away feeling uplifted by the mystically shared experience. To break the ice and draw the group together we check in a little before starting. But after that we join in silent worship for about 30 minutes. Most of the time the meeting is entirely silent, but we have had some vocal ministry.
Ginny and I squeeze together to share our laptop. It’s like our home lives are joined with several friends for a short time and we sit in solidarity of spirit together. I encourage everyone to try it at least once. It may not be for everyone, but you might be surprised.
If anyone wants help in downloading the software (which is free), or learning the basic controls, please contact us using the form below and we will make sure someone can help you join the latest Quaker innovation.