Worship at Your Computer?
by Sue Tannehill
We had our doubts. Buffalo Monthly Meeting draws from places that range from 30 minutes northeast of the city of Buffalo to 40 minutes south, making it difficult for people to drive into the city for mid-week meeting. But several members had used a video conferencing tool for committee meetings, and it seemed like a way to have mid-week worship too. Our Outreach committee decided to try out the Zoom application. Currently we hold mid-week meeting for worship (using the Zoom platform) twice a month on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 7:30-8:15 p.m. It is announced on both our website (buffaloquakers.org) and our Facebook page (Buffalo Quaker Meeting). Readers of this article are very welcome to join us!
Personally, I wasn’t sure I could sit at my desk and feel “worship” staring at a computer screen. I was surprised to find that the same sense of peace and calm I sense in face-to face-meeting for worship often steals over me when I participate in digital mid-week meeting.
How does it work? Each person clicks on a link they have received or dials into the Zoom conference room. When they sign in, we see their faces unless they are using a phone connection. We begin with a brief check in—names, introductions, welcoming newcomers, reviewing the process, and then we settle into a half hour of worship. When the time is up, we hear the usual “Good Evening Friends” to break meeting and we then have a few minutes for afterthoughts or reflections on the process.
While 4-6 Buffalo members regularly attend, we often have people attend from other meeting in other states. So far, we have had people from both PA and CT join us. This has been great for cross-fertilization of Friends’ practices. Several people in PA joined because they were thinking of using Zoom for the same purpose in their home meeting. At least one out-of-town couple has “attended” mid-week meeting for worship after worshiping with us in person.
I encourage any interested Friends to visit our mid-week meeting! Find the information about future meetings at www.buffaloquakers.org/events/. So, the answer to the question above is, yes, you can have a meaningful meeting for worship experience sitting at your desk using your computer screen. Who knew?