You’ve been hearing “It’s about connection, not perfection” from the OUUC Tech Team for over 18 months now. What does that mean now, as we shift gears into what we’re calling “hybrid” services? What’s in the future for connection with OUUC?

As Rev. Mary has shared in today’s Spark!, we are not where we hoped we would be in terms of moving past the pandemic. There are so many feelings wrapped up in this: grief, anger, fatigue, hopelessness–all understandable reactions!

“As we lean into the love we have for one another and for our Unitarian Universalist faith community as a whole,” writes the UUA, “we share the feelings of discouragement that the pandemic is still not over.”

This disappointment is very real in the tech realm, as well. We had hoped to begin conducting services from the Sanctuary in the Fall, inviting members of OUUC to attend in person as well as maintaining streaming content for those who wish to stay virtual. It is extremely important to us to offer as many options for engagement as possible, because we know some people will be eager to return to the Sanctuary, while others will prefer to stay home.

Ultimately, we understand we may always have virtual members and visitors from now on–virtual members being those who engage with OUUC primarily or exclusively online. So, we are committed to making as much OUUC content available virtually as possible, starting with Sunday services.

This poses quite a technical challenge, however. We are finding that optimizing and synchronizing the in-Sanctuary experience and the online experience is not as easy as it might seem. We are preparing to invest in better cameras, microphones, and display screens to merge the streaming and physical experiences of a Sunday service. There will be a learning curve associated with this new equipment, but we hope it will streamline our Sunday morning process and enable us to deliver a better product to everyone attending, whether at OUUC or at home.

Some things we hope to incorporate with these changes:

  • Large screens in the Sanctuary which display the Order of Service, song lyrics, videos (like those from our Share the Plate recipients), guest speakers, or anything else which benefits the attendees in the Sanctuary
  • A larger screen in the Commons which can display the service to an “overflow” audience
  • Better sound quality overall, no matter where you watch a service
  • Additional camera angles to capture all important aspects of a service

These are all large-scale changes which affect our usual tech operations–and they will, hopefully, only add to your positive experiences of Sunday mornings. Connection isn’t just about the wired and wireless components that enable us to gather; it’s also about how we choose to show up and being able to provide a platform that enables people to engage. No matter how we gather, whether it happens on a screen or off, I want this technology to give us an experience that helps remind us why we choose OUUC, not distract from it.

The Tech Team and I appreciate your support and patience through this and every change we make. We continue to demonstrate we are adaptive, flexible, and innovative as a community. Thank you!

Jo Sahlin
OUUC Media Specialist