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Memphis Friends Meeting - Visitors Are Welcome

August Newsletter - A Sampling

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Learning to Zoom

by Carol

It’s been over 4 months since we entered our virtual meeting space and it looks like it may be many months more before we are worshipping again in the meetinghouse. In the meantime, things aren’t static. We’re getting much more familiar with how to use all that Zoom offers. At business meeting in July most reports were delivered via screen share; first day school has happened on Zoom; and we’ve installed a Nest camera at the meetinghouse so we can view the meeting room as we worship. Instead of singing, we have offered a settling-in time before worship on First Sunday; and one Friend has logged onto Zoom from Overton Park.

There is a learning curve and unanticipated things to watch out for on Zoom. What you see on your screen depends on your device – desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone, whether you use gallery or speaker view, and whether you use split screen when someone else is screen sharing. What others see of you depends on what your camera sees. If the camera points to the ceiling, they may be looking at the top of your head or at your ceiling fan. Carrying your device to a new location draws the attention of others to your square. Turning your video feed off rearranges the screens your fellow worshippers see as the Zoom software blacks out your square and moves it to the bottom row. Leaving your audio on may bring unexpected noises into worship and leaving your audio off when you start to speak leaves others wondering what you are saying. It’s a lot to think about.

In a very important way, however, Zoom worship is just the same as worship at the meetinghouse. How well it works depends on the worshipers; the more quietly we sit – in the meeting room or in front of our screens -- the better we are able to contribute to the spirit of worship.

How we welcome visitors on Zoom also depends on what we did before we went virtual. Sunday morning worship has always felt like a gathered community even though as an urban meeting facing a busy road we often had new faces join us. Extending a welcome is different now that Zoom could potentially open our worship to even more visitors. So far though, we have had fewer, not more. However, inquiries about our meeting continue to trickle in through our website and occasionally an out-of-town Quaker has joined us on Zoom.

When we get back it is possible we won’t give up Zooming. We may be looking at a hybrid meeting – part real, part virtual. What that will look like is a bit murky, but we can be sure that things have changed and will go on changing.