Several weeks ago, a light bulb turned on in my head (don’t worry- it was a low-wattage LED). I had an epiphany, an attitude shift. Earlier, I had been lamenting the fact that we couldn’t hold church in the usual way and had to settle for remote sessions using online tech, in order to meet at all. Woe is me; woe is us. The shift in attitude happened as I realized we had broken new ground at UUCO, that our success with online services and other meetings was paying off, and that we were being recognized as trail-blazers by other UU congregations in the area.
In other words, there has been a “silver lining” in the remote recesses of our social distancing. We’re comfortable to deliver worship and other services with online tools.
Here are some of the main benefits:
Convenience. UUs love to hold meeting after meeting after meeting, and being able to do this online is, for me and other “potentates," a huge convenience. Less time traveling, more time talking and planning.
Inclusivity. We highly value inclusivity, but in-person church services aren’t very inclusive. Improved access via Project Welcome will be a partial remedy for disabled people (moving forward as planned, by the way…). However, there will always be folks who cannot attend on-site church activities because they’re homebound or live too far away.
Outreach and community presence. Since our founding in the early 1990s, the UUCO has grappled with establishing a presence in the Ogden community. We’re not a proselytizing faith, and we don’t really know how to do this, other than through our social-justice activities and advocacy in the Ogden community. Online worship and other church services are an effective way to deliver our message more widely and vigorously. In the past few months, we’ve received positive feedback from a number of friends, previously silent and out of touch, who’ve given positive feedback and encouragement for us to “keep doing things online, even after live services resume.”
I’m not saying that virtual meetings are always as good as or better than meeting in person, but in recent months they've become an essential alternative during prohibition on meeting in person. In the future, our virtual services and outreach will continue together, even after we resume on-site activities. This is a new initiative for the UUCO, and is supported in our proposed budget for the new fiscal year. Specifically, we aim to hire part-time technical person, and to obtain the basic equipment & software needed to deliver online services from the church. This will expand on past efforts such as recording or podcasting our services, and will cast a wider net with improved audio-visual quality & variety. You may ask, “Why can’t we just keep doing things the way we were?” We could… But there are several reasons to evolve. First, we’ve shown that we can deliver quality online worship, including partnerships with other congregations, so it would be hard to go back to our old ways. Second and more importantly, simultaneous live and virtual worship services, which we aim to deliver in the future, would be impossible for our worship team without additional equipment and professional help in the form of a part-time technical manager.
This is an important new direction in our congregational evolution. I believe it will be “life-changing” for our congregation. Please attend the Annual Meeting on June 7th, and see how we propose to move forward with financial and material support. The Trustees, Finance Team and Worship Team have taken due diligence, have researched the alternatives, and have proposed a path forward. I’ve tried to list the main “WHYs” behind this initiative. Budgeting IS programming; budgeting IS policy; budgeting CAN BE visionary.
We the church leaders will be asking for your support of the proposed budget by congregational vote at the Annual Meeting.
See you then. (Virtually)