Small Miracles

Media Production System at the rear of the Nave, All Saints, Vernon.
Media Production System at the rear of the Nave, All Saints, Vernon.
By on June 1, 2021

“Every cloud has a silver lining” may sound cliché, but as I write this, it seems to be abundantly true. Read on and see if you agree.

Years ago, well prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, our Incumbent, Chris Harwood-Jones had a vision. That vision was to extend All Saints’ worship ministry beyond the walls of the church building via technology. Although All Saints leads or participates in several outreach ministries in Vernon, there is always more that can be done. But, the wonderful vision to expand worship via broadcast media, always seemed to be ‘just down the road’. Enter Covid-19…

March 15, 2020 was the last in-person service at All Saints prior to the pandemic shutdown. Most of the outreach ministries, notably Pastoral Care to shut-ins at local Long-Term Care facilities were also affected. In an instant, All Saints found itself looking for a way to replace weekly worship services for the local congregation and shut-ins. Sunday service attendance alone numbered in the 170-180 range.

No stranger to technology, Chris immediately rekindled his vision to use media to continue (and extend) All Saints’ ministry. The very next Sunday, March 22, 2020, All Saints’ first on-line service was broadcast using a smart phone, laptop computer and YouTube. It wasn’t network quality, but it allowed many of the congregation to participate in their first Covid-19 era “church” service. And so, it began…

In the coming weeks, various improvements and additions were made to make step-by-step improvements to the online worship experience. Broadcast quality was a significant impediment in those early days. Various improvements would be necessary, but an obvious quick-fix was to increase Internet bandwidth. Although this Internet upgrade significantly reduced audio delays and video buffering, the basic broadcast equipment was still rudimentary, therefore the overall quality remained mediocre. In concert with the Internet upgrade, the evolving ZOOM technology was employed to allow members of the congregation to resume their participation as Readers and Intercessors. Notwithstanding the substandard broadcast quality, we were progressively moving towards some semblance of normal Sunday services, with increasing weekly lay-member participation in worship and additional technical expertise being nurtured from within our fold. Weekly views were in the 90+ range. Considering many YouTube logons consisted of multiple viewers from a family unit, we extrapolated that attendance at weekly online services was 80% or more of pre-Covid in person participation. Time now to evolve…

Some of the pressure of planning, production, technical expertise, service delivery and broadcast logistics was now being eased. This afforded Chris the opportunity to think about building on the foundation necessitated by Covid, towards a future that would incorporate online ministry beyond the return of in-person services. The response to the weekly broadcasts was gratifying, but even more exciting were messages from past parishioners no longer living in the area, who had discovered that geography was no longer an impediment to attending weekly services at All Saints.

The bridge from this Phase 1 Media Production experience towards the ultimate vision would involve willingness, expertise, planning, teamwork and financing. A Media Production team was formed in June 2020, the five members of which brought together their resident skills and knowledge to plan and implement the future. The first order of business was to agree on the ‘Vision’ and develop the technical equipment specifications. At that point, an evolutionary plan was developed for migration to Phase 2 and Phase 3, a budget was prepared, and the overall concept was presented to Church Council for financial approval. During the summer of 2020, we installed internal fibre optic cable and nodes, acquired a purpose-built media server computer and peripherals and, with the addition of a loaned video camera, were broadcasting network quality services by September. One the most gratifying outcomes of All Saints Media Production System has been the ability to broadcast several Celebrations of Life, allowing literally hundreds of people to participate, who otherwise would not have been able to attend. 

One year later, and we now have the budget to acquire two broadcast quality cameras to complete the current plan for our Media Production System and further secure our presence in an online ministry that was a long-held vision (but still, only a vision) before Covid.

Many teachings in the Bible attempt to navigate us to the bigger picture, that things aren’t always what they seem and that good things often come from the least likely sources.

All Saints Vernon


  • George Wicks

    George Wicks is the People’s Warden for All Saints, Vernon, BC

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