Greater Northwest Conferences offers steep Zoom discount, Alaska & PNW add CCLI streaming license upgrade for local churches

By Patrick Scriven

UPDATE: This Zoom offer for local churches is concluding on Monday, April 27. Please act now if your church needs access to Zoom.


In order to assist local churches during this difficult period, the Conferences of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church are sponsoring two special initiatives.

The first offering is access to a Zoom Business hosting license at a heavily subsidized rate of $50. Local churches in Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences can submit their request using this simple form.

“During the weeks ahead where we all may need to connect in different ways,” offered Rev. David Valera, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries for the PNW Conference. “We hope that Zoom will serve as a helpful tool for local churches to continue to meet in groups large and small, in worship and other forms of community”

The license churches can purchase will support gatherings of up to 300 persons.

The offer for a subsidized zoom account is now closed. If you would like to be added to the Greater NW Area zoom account at the full rate of $125 for a year, please contact Teri Tobey (ttobey@pnwumc.org) for further assistance.

In addition, the Alaska and Pacific Northwest Conferences have secured streaming permission for the entire CCLI catalog of songs churches in those conferences for the next year. Please note that those churches will still need to secure licensing for songs outside of the CCLI catalogue if they choose to use them online. Some churches have found success with pairing the CCLI license with OneLicense or Christian Copyright Solutions, both of which cover more hymns in the United Methodist Hymnal.”

UPDATE: We are happy to share that OneLicense is offering a free license good through April 15, 2020.

In both the Alaska and Pacific Northwest Conferences, the conference’s insurance coverage has included basic CCLI licensing for local churches for several years. Streaming is an add-on feature that costs between $63 and $93 per license per year depending on the size of the church.

Churches in the Oregon-Idaho Conference are currently responsible for their own CCLI licensing. They are encouraged to contact the company to discuss flexibility in streaming permissions and/or use songs in public domain.

Please be in touch with Regional Media Center Director Ian McKnight (imcknight@pnwumc.org) if you have questions about how to access and use your CCLI license. Each church in the Alaska and PNW Conference has an individual CCLI license number which they should be using whenever they reproduce music for congregational use, and now for streaming online.

As Regional Media Center Manager, Ian is also a great resource for answered copyright and licensing questions for churches in across the Greater Northwest Area.

Zoom Details

We will bill those who sign up for a Zoom account $50 with the option to renew at our full rate (approximately $120) in January of 2021. The same license is available on the Zoom.us site for $19.99 per month (over $250 per year after taxes). One subsidized license is available per local church. An additional scholarship is ready for churches in need.

Please note that we are offering one hosting license on our shared Greater NW account. If you need more than one hosting license, additional licenses would be $125 + Tax.


Patrick Scriven serves as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Livestream Basics for Churches

With news that the Coronavirus outbreak is now classified as a pandemic, and public health officials in Washington State elevating their guidance and requirements for social distancing, we are anticipating that more local churches will need to explore new online options for worship. Rev. David Valera and Patrick Scriven offer advice in this video for churches as they contemplate this move, identifying some of the challenges along the way.

Some of the links mentioned in the video.

For testing your internet connection: speedtest.net

Live Streaming Platforms mentioned
Facebook Live Information page: LINK
YouTube Live Streaming Information Page: LINK

If you have time and haven’t done so already, setting up a non-profit account will give you additional features to control your “brand” and minimize the invasiveness of YouTube advertising. You can find directions for doing this here: http://www.umcom.org/learn/free-access-to-google-products-for-nonprofits

Additional Options

There are a number of streaming services available under monthly or yearly contracts, some designed specifically for churches. Reach out to colleagues who are using a service you like and see what they have to say about it before you invest.

If you are wanting an option that might be more conversational, consider a platform like Zoom (https://zoom.us). At the free level, you can host a conversation with up to 100 participants for 40 minutes. For $15 a month, you have no time limits, and for $20 you can host up to $300 of your closest friends. 🙂

Licensing

We are working on some ways to try to make the addition of the CCLI streaming license easier for local churches. Give us a day or two to see what might be possible.

Questions?

David can be reached at dvalera@pnwumc.org; Patrick at pscriven@pnwumc.org.

We’ll do the best we can to answer questions from United Methodist churches but please be sure to reach out to your Annual Conference Communicator, especially if you aren’t based in the Northwest. They are likely waiting by the phone right now to answer your questions!

Event cancellations due to COVID-19

The following events across the Greater NW Area have been canceled or postponed due to concern for our siblings in Christ as we try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you know of an area-wide, conference or district event that is being canceled and is not listed here, please send an email to communications@pnwumc.org or communications@umoi.org.

  • Rural Church Engagement Initiative meeting in Boise, March 17-20
  • OR-ID Gathering of the Orders/Deacons/LLP, Boise, March 17-18
  • Northwest Leadership Institute, Boise, March 18-20
    Rescheduled to March 10-12, 2021
  • SUMYT (Youth Retreat), Indianola, WA, March 20-22
    Rescheduled to November 20-22, 2020
  • Implicit Bias Training, Chehalis UMC, March 24
  • Messy Middle Retreat, March 24-26
  • Inhabit Conference, Seattle, April 20
  • Columbia District Laity event, Gresham, OR., March 14
  • PNW ERT “Spring Training, May 8-9
  • Seven Rivers District Spiritual Day Apart
    Rescheduled to May 23, 2020
  • PNW Convo (Youth Retreat), May 23-25, 2020
    Dates for Convo 2021 are May 29-31, 2021
  • GNW Shared Annual Conference Session, June 11-14
    Canceled, click here for details
  • PNW Mission u, Ellensburg, July 23-26

Other Significant cancellations or postponements across the United Methodist connection

  • General Conference 2020, May 5-15
    New dates not available yet
  • Western Jurisdictional 2020, July 15-18
    New dates not available yet

Staying “Church Connected” when it matters most

Compiled by Kathy Bryson and Larry Johnson

The local church is a place where people connect — with God, with each other and in the community. People naturally turn to the church in times of a crisis seeking meaning, peace, and healing. A church that is prepared can help mitigate the emotional and spiritual impact of a disaster and may be a place of hospitality and sanctuary in times of critical need. A plan can speed the immediate response and help lessen those feelings of confusion, loneliness, and isolation that are so common after disasters. 

Here are some suggestions to stay “Church Connected”:

Congregation Checks
Prepare a method of checking on the congregation of the church when a disaster strikes. i.e. developing a “telephone tree” or utilizing “prayer chains” communications. Develop an “Outreach Committee.” Update and make church directories available.

Click to see full-size Phone Tree Template

Check on shut-ins and most vulnerable church members first
Call, visit, reach out to family members to make contact with church members. Notify the local rescue squad if there is a call for concern or evacuation, giving all pertinent details. 

Companions
Arrange for people (volunteers) to serve as companions for vulnerable or disaster-affected people. Companions should be prepared to listen, run errands, make phone calls; anything to help church members feel more comfortable and ease the anxiety. If possible, arrange for persons with skills in signing for the hearing impaired, and translators for non-English speaking people. 

Make contingencies for providing services as soon as possible after the disaster 
Consider identifying an alternate location in case the church is damaged, perhaps including a reciprocal agreement with another church. Be open to alternative ways of holding service — videotape service, use website, and online capabilities.  Be prepared in the event that the pastor is affected by the disaster. 

Determine ways existing ministries can continue in the event the church is damaged
Develop a plan in case in-church ministries, such as child care, bible study, AA meetings, etc. need to be canceled. Identify and plan for ministries your church will engage in during a disaster, such as feeding, donations distribution, information center, etc.


Larry Johnson serves as Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Along with her husband Dana, Kathy Bryson serves as Disaster Response Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

Worship in the midst of an outbreak

Worship in the midst of an outbreak


By Rev. David Valera & Patrick Scriven

Many faith communities are considering alternative ways of worshiping this weekend after guidance from both King and Snohomish Counties recommended canceling or postponing large gatherings of more than 50 people.

Faith communities with a practice of sharing parts or all of their worship online may feel less stressed by this, but there are still gaps that online worship can’t fill. Others may recognize this as an excellent time to experiment or jump right into some new form of online engagement.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for faith communities when it comes to connecting with people in meaningful ways. As you make decisions, consider what would work best for the people in your community and use this as an opportunity to stretch into a new practice, perhaps one that you will embrace even after some semblance of normalcy returns.

As you move to consider new ways of worship, don’t forget that the most important contact is still person to person, even if that may need to happen in smaller groups or over the phone. Keep in mind those who may be experiencing isolation and anxiety, and consider an audit of your congregation so that those who may be especially vulnerable to this virus have the support they need.

Worship Online?

If you have access to a recent smartphone and a decent wifi connection, you have most everything you need to facilitate rudimentary streaming. While specialized gear may get you better results, most smartphones are capable of more than most people realize.

If you are going online, you have some decisions to make, which we’ve broken into four basic parts:

  • What do you want to stream?
  • Will it be live?
  • What platform will you use?
  • Do I need to think about licensing?

What do you want to stream?

Even for churches that already stream their entire service, what to stream is still a relevant question. There is a difference between recording worship in front of a congregation and trying to produce something for a web audience with no one else in the room with you. You’ve got the equipment and platform, take some time to adapt to this new situation creatively.

For churches who only share a sermon or special music currently, how will you embrace this opportunity to up your game? Is there a way to make it more interactive than just hearing a message or piece of music? We’ll get into this a bit more when we talk about platforms.

For churches who haven’t yet waded into these digital waters, this may be the perfect moment to stretch into something new. Start small. Try recording a short homily and share it on your church’s Facebook page or another social media platform you have available to you.

Will it be live?

If this isn’t something you do regularly, why make it harder? Platforms like Facebook and YouTube allow you to upload content with relative ease. Facebook even permits you to schedule and release prerecorded material as if it is live

Unless you are planning to do something interactive, like verbally responding to questions in chat as you speak, there isn’t much to gain from working without a proverbial net. Prerecording your content allows you to do multiple takes and even a little postproduction of what you have filmed.

In any case, check out the recording tips, which you’ll find on this page.

Tips for making good online videos using just a smartphone

Inside a church or building:

  1. Camera – Smartphone with a good camera and lens.
    1. Make sure the lens is clean.
    2. Stabilize your phone/camera – make sure you don’t block your microphone.
    3. Keep the lens at eye level.
  2. Lighting – make sure you have adequate lighting. Find the best location in the sanctuary.
    1. Avoid harsh, direct lighting especially on faces.
    2. Try not to be constrained to the pulpit.
    3. It’s a great opportunity to be creative.
  3. Sound – test your audio by making a few short recordings, before you go live. Avoid echoes.
    1. Know where the mic in your camera is. You may have to remove protective casing.
    2. Stay within 2-4 feet from your mic/phone.
    3. If you have a headphone/mic for your smartphone, use it. This option can produce very good quality audio. 
    4. Audio quality is just as important as your video. The goal is to make sure your viewers clearly understand your message.

Bonus tip to Pastor/worship leaders – Don’t take too long to introduce what you are doing.

Write down your opening and closing spiel. Make your endings smart and connected to your message. Open well and end best!

What platform will you use?

Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube. There are dozens of possibilities. My best advice is to choose the platform you are most comfortable with that is also accessible to the majority of your congregants.

For most churches, the Facebook Live option is a good one to consider. The majority of churches already have a Facebook page and may find themselves just a couple steps away from being able to go live. It also has a flexible definition of the word “live,” allowing you to upload a message and watch along with congregation members, interacting with them and even answering questions they might pose. Contrary to what some believe, Facebook videos are available to view by people without an account, and you can embed them on a church website.

YouTube might be the platform of choice if there is a preference for something other than Facebook. It is often easier to place YouTube videos as content in other places, but social engagement might take a hit.

A compelling option if you want to do something creative and interactive is Zoom. While there are other video-conferencing platforms, Zoom is the easiest to use in my experience. The basic free account will allow you to host up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes. The same features are available for $14.99 per month with no time limits. For a few dollars more, you can host up to 300 people.

Do I need to think about licensing?

It depends on what you intend to stream, but the short answer is yes if you are planning to include live or prerecorded music. 

In the U.S., churches have a copyright exemption that allows the performance and display of copywritten work of a religious nature during religious services. If you read that carefully, the exemption is pretty narrow, and it is understood that it does not permit the broadcast of those works online live or recorded. Stanford University is one excellent resource for additional info on copyright.

If you intend to stream music, and you don’t want to limit yourself to the greatest hits of the 19th century, the solution is a streaming license. The WorshipCast Streaming license offered by CCS covers a range of songs, CCLI offers a solution as well as an add-on to their basic licensing. Each covers some things that the other doesn’t as far as the use of content goes. This document captures some of the differences.  

Got questions?

We hope that you find this resource helpful as you adapt to the situation we are facing. As you discern the best practices for you, remember that there is a wealth of information on many of these topics, just a short Google-search away. If you’ve got questions, send them to communications@greaternw.org, and we’ll try to answer them.

Finally, remember that you are a part of a connectional church. If pulling off an online service isn’t going to work for you, reach out to one of your colleagues, and encourage your congregants to join you online at their church. 

Churches encouraged to use ‘Connecting Neighbors’ guidelines to check in with vulnerable members

By Kristen Caldwell

Connecting Neighbors is a curriculum from UMCOR to help individuals, churches and their surrounding neighborhoods be prepared, should disaster ever strike.

Part of that curriculum is teaching churches to develop a communications plan, specifically one that helps them to connect with some of their most vulnerable members who they may not be seeing in church on Sunday or at weekly meals.

As the Coronavirus continues to threaten serious harm to vulnerable populations such as elders, those with underlying medical conditions and compromised immune systems, churches can adapt part of the ‘Connecting Neighbors’ curriculum to this situation by activating their phone tree or other communications plans to reach out via phone, text message or email.

Rev. Marshall Wattman-Turner, Abundant Health coordinator in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, said churches should be looking for those who are homebound, maybe self-isolating or under medical quarantine.

Churches can encourage, organize, train, and monitor all volunteers (including meals-on-wheels drivers or food pantry volunteers) to provide regular safety and wellness check-ins, he said.

“Besides providing essential human contact, these check-ins provide an opportunity to ask what assistance they may need in acquiring essentials such as people and pet food, medications, or other critical supplies,” Wattman-Turner said.

The Pacific Northwest Conference recently hosted a connecting neighbors training in Kennewick, according to Disaster Response Coordinator Kathy Bryson. She acknowledged, though, that it takes a while for the curriculum to sink in with a local church because of its holistic focuses on three levels: individuals, churches and the community.

“But if we need to make things happen, we can make it happen,” she said. “I’m not opposed to making phone calls.”

To learn more about Connecting Neighbors and upcoming training opportunities, in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, contact Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator Larry Johnson, 503-899-5431 or Connecting Neighbors coordinator Sally Blanchard, 503-802-9206. In the Pacific Northwest, contact Disaster Response Coordinators Dana and Kathy Bryson, 509-539-2978, or email Connecting Neighbors coordinator Terry Reddick.

For more United Methodist Disaster Response Resources, visit:

Wesleyan Traditions: Watch Night & Covenant Renewal

I often struggle to experience worship when I am leading worship. That was not the case on January 1, 2017. That Sunday morning I led my congregation through the liturgy of Wesley’s covenant renewal service. We included a time for personal reflection and journaling our covenant with God for the year ahead. I then kept my covenant within reach at my desk for the entire year. I reread it a few times. Looking back on it now, it’s plain to see how the covenant I entered into that day shaped the year ahead, shifted my ministry, and compelled me to follow my call in a new direction.  It was a powerful experience for me!

A new calendar year is a time of crossing over. It signals a fresh start, the opportunity to begin again—and that’s a gift many need any given year. What if we could invite our congregations, our small groups, our families, or just ourselves to really make the start of the new year a deeply meaningful time in our faith?

I remember well the challenge of offering something new or creative in worship immediately after an exhausting Advent and a pull-out-all-the-stops Christmas Eve. As a result, I want to offer you some resources in hopes that you and those with whom you worship and fellowship might revisit the tradition of a covenant renewal service.

The resources you’ll find here are intended to be helpful, which means that I hope you will adapt them to fit your context and your sense of where the Spirit is leading you. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking creatively:

  • Use these materials as a ready-to-go Sunday morning service on any of the first several Sundays after Christmas or at a time when a fresh, new start is needed in your setting.
  • In keeping more with the watchnight tradition, include this opportunity for covenant on New Year’s Eve. (Shout out to Burley UMC in Burley, Idaho! In years gone by, they sometimes had a game night on Dec. 31 as an option for those who didn’t have or want a raucous party. Shortly before midnight, there was an invitation to enter the sanctuary for a very informal covenant renewal service. Got a recovery ministry in your church? Invite them to join you!)
  • Have a potluck with all those holiday leftovers and invite those gathered around the table (in homes or church fellowship halls) to read the covenant renewal liturgy and talk about it together.
  • Familiarize yourself with the liturgy, then gather a group for informal conversation about the ideas within it. Talk about God’s faithfulness in the past year and your commitment to following God more closely or in new ways and different directions in the year ahead.
  • Include in the life of your family, your small group, your friends, or your church a “blessing of the calendars.” Gather all kinds of time-keepers—watches, day planners, cell phones—hold them or place them in the center of the group. Invite other voices and pray about how you long for God to be present and how you commit to be present to God in your moments and days, throughout the seasons and the year ahead.

Resources offered here include the following:

  • Sample Order of Worship—Watchnight Service – PDF
    A basic pattern of worship for traditional Sunday morning worship services that includes the Covenant Renewal liturgy and reflection time in lieu of a sermon
  • Wesleyan Tradition of Covenant Renewal—Sample Introduction – PDF
    The sample order of worship includes an introduction to this tradition. The text provided here can be used as that introductory material or adapted to suit your community.
  • Covenant Renewal Service Liturgy & Journal Pages   PDF Version – Publisher Version
    This document includes the complete liturgy, covenant prayer, and lined pages for journaling about one’s own covenant.It is designed to be printed on letter sized paper, two-sided pages (flip on short edge), and folded in half. Each booklet uses 3 sheets of paper.
  • Covenant Renewal journal for KIDS – PDF VersionPublisher Version)
    This document invites children to think about the past year and the year ahead. It is most useful for children who can read, but it can be used alongside an adult for non-readers and has plenty of spaces for drawing or coloring. It is designed to be printed on letter sized paper, two-sided pages (flip on short edge), and folded in half. Each booklet uses 3 sheets of paper.

Click here for some additional Watchnight liturgical resources courtesy of Ministry Matters

Do you have great ideas of your own about how to bring greater meaning to people of faith at the start of the new calendar year?  Share them here!


Rev. Karen Hernandez is Sage District Superintendent. Most recently she served Kuna United Methodist Church (Kuna, Idaho), where the congregation graciously tried all kinds of new things in worship and beyond. 

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