Page 23 - Church Review JUNE 2020 [IM)
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How Two Clergy are Addressing the Shutdown
Communicating with their flocks in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges clergy have faced. Church and worship has traditionally been a ministry of
gathering together – generally inside a building. When it became clear that public worship in our churches would be suspended, clergy immediately turned their thoughts to how and where they were going to meet their parishioners.
With astonishing alacrity clergy in Dublin & Glendalough turned to technology. Within days of the lockdown, numerous Rectors took a leap of faith and plunged into the virtual world. They gathered their people online to become a church without walls. Currently, 46 parishes in the dioceses offer online worship and Christ Church Cathedral broadcasts Morning and Evening Prayer on weekdays with a livestream of the Cathedral Eucharist on Sunday mornings. You can find a full directory of the services and how to access them on the diocesan website –
The online option is not open to everyone. Last month we saw that lack of a stable broadband connection for both the Rector and many of his parishioners meant that services online were not an option. For others, considering both their own skills and the needs of the parish, being online for worship doesn’t feel like the right choice.
Here two clergy, one from Dublin and one from Glendalough, outline how they have adapted to meet the needs of their parishioners during the crisis.
The Revd Olive Donohoe is Rector of Athy, Kilberry and Fontstown with Kilkea. She has access to high speed broadband but had never broadcast worship online before and didn’t know where to start – her account of her first attempt at recording is below. After a faltering start a parishioner who works as a sound engineer, Serge Adido, offered to help her. Further assistance came from student reader, Jane Burns, who has been recording Compline during the week. The parish is blossoming online.
Olive has received very positive feedback from parishioners. She has heard of parishioners in Kilkea watching her services with relatives from Australia. “In a strange way, it’s bringing people together. I think it is a comfort in this time when you can do nothing else. The church
is there in your house,” she comments. “It’s going to change the way we do things. We can never go back. I think when this is over I will continue to offer online prayer weekly. We can’t just go back to that time when the building was enough because everyone has become more proficient now.”
Meanwhile, in the parish of Monkstown in south Dublin, Canon Roy Byrne has taken the decision not to go online with services. “In Monkstown I took the decision not to go down the line of trying to broadcast church services from the rectory study or in an empty church for two reasons. One, I do not have the technical expertise in such matters and believe broadcasting should be left to the experts. I have never used a lap top in my life, nor PowerPoint, nor recording things of this nature. Everything I do here is on a desktop computer. Aside from my technical limitations I also know that many of my parishioners do not have computers nor use email and if I was broadcasting services many of my parishioners would have no access to them. The younger generations know where to go to find something online but not many of my more senior parishioners,” he explains.
Since Mothering Sunday he has been writing a weekly letter to all parishioners including a service they can use in their homes. This is emailed to those who use email and printed in booklet form and posted to about 50 parishioners who do not use email. He also prints off a bundle of booklets in small and large print for a retirement complex near the church. Parishioners have started sending him reflections and poetry and he is including these in his letter. The letter is also posted on the parish Facebook page. The parish has also
established a pastoral care committee which is available if anyone needs shopping or advice.
“We have received many phone calls, emails and letters from our parishioners thanking us for all we are doing to help and support our parishioners in these difficult times and this encourages me greatly,” Canon Byrne comments. “We carry on but we carry on differently. It’s very simple but it works for us.” He is planning ahead and looking forward to a time when churches will be open for public worship again.
  CRASH, BANG, WALLOP - Diary of a First Time Streamer
By the Revd Olive Donohoe
ust looked at Diocesan website. Streaming
to press video button. Record Service of Compline to begin my recording career.
Play back to check. Opening scene looks as if I am lunging at unsuspecting congregation as I press start. Have made fatal error. Left out name in prayers. Start whole process again. Lunge forward. Press start. Smile. Fourteen minutes later, upload. Wait 15 minutes... 20 minutes. Watch the little circle going round and round. Crash. Upload failed. Upload again. Wait 25 minutes. Watch the little circle going round and round. Begin to relax. Upload failed.
Try recording on the iPad instead. Smaller pile of books. Smile. Forget lesson from first recording and lean forward press the start button. Upload. Watch the little circle going round and round. 20 minutes later. Upload failed. Consider throwing iPad and the phone out the window. Press upload one more time. Little circle going round and round. OMG! It works. It works. IT WORKS! Video successfully uploaded. See career in video and film world opening up. Leave Parish life behind. Three people view my opus. Sobering information. Must remember not to remember that number. Reconsider leaving Parish life behind. Talk to Student Reader. Student Reader volunteers to record Evening Prayer on Mondays and Fridays. Explain the trauma
and immense effort and stamina required to do even one service. Student Reader seems unimpressed. Turns out husband of Student Reader extremely proficient at computers.
Neighbouring Rector phones. “Just finished recording another Sunday Service and upload went smoothly. Great number of viewers last week.” Really?! (feeling v inadequate. Don’t let him know.) Oh, I’ve just finished weekday services and only getting round to Sunday Service now. “Weekday services?” Oh yes. We really need to pray, this pandemic is serious stuff. “Absolutely. Lovely to talk, talk again soon.” Sound of teeth being ground. A whole Sunday Service? Is he serious? Recorded. Uploaded. Likes. Aaaaah!
ector of Athy Union of Parishes
is where it’s at. (Question: what is streaming? Must Google.) Pre-recording an option for the more senior cleric. Have just looked at lots of Whatsapp videos, can’t be that difficult.
Am self isolating for 14 days so can’t go to the church to record. So set up at home. Kitchen? too homely. Study? Too untidy. Dining Room? Perfect. Pull curtains, turn on lights. Icon or not? Yes. Looks holier. Set phone on side (heard landscape format works better) on pile of books. Phone not secure on pile of books. Fix it. Now picture missing my head. Adjust pile of books again. Perfect. Smile. Lean forward

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