In March, the Greater Northwest Area offered its local churches and ministries a Zoom hosting license at a reduced and subsidized rate. Understanding that the tool has become essential for many ministries throughout this protracted time of pandemic, leaders are eager to renew this offer for 2021.
“When we first launched this initiative, no one understood how long COVID-19 would be with us,” said Pacific Northwest Conference Director of Connectional Ministries Rev. David Valera. “We’ve seen Zoom adopted by several hundred churches across the Greater Northwest, providing a needed tool allowing ministry to continue through committee meetings, bible studies, social gatherings and even worship!”
United Methodist churches in the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Conferences will be able to renew their hosting license for $50 for the entirety of 2021. One hosting license is available per church at this rate discounted and subsidized. Additional hosting licenses are available for a discounted 124.99 + tax. This is still $25 less than the cheapest paid Zoom plan while including more features. Each license is set at what Zoom refers to as the “Enterprise Level” with the ability to host large meetings and webinars with up to 500 participants, and unlimited cloud storage and transcription services in addition to the basic Zoom features.
Local churches that did not sign up previously, or those which desire to add an additional hosting license, can use this online form to sign up.
Financial support for this initiative will come from existing funds in each annual conference budget in addition to resources under the care of the Regional Media Center (RMC) which operates out of the Pacific Northwest Conference Office in Des Moines, WA. The RMC is a resource-lending library serving local churches across the Northwest and beyond for nearly two decades.
Additionally, the RMC is offering free membership to all churches within the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area starting immediately and continuing through January 1st, 2022. United Methodist Churches within the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church are also included in this offering, but not automatically enrolled (interested churches can email the RMC).
DVD-based Small Group Curriculum on religious and social topics have been the most popular offerings of the RMC. Their resource catalog includes educational items cost-prohibitive if only used once by a single church as well as bible study favorites from authors like Adam Hamilton. They also have a small but growing inventory of audio/visual equipment that can be rented out at competitive rates.
“We are offering our membership for free for the coming year understanding that some local churches are struggling financially,” offered RMC Manager Ian Patrick McKnight. “We also know that many churches are still in the process of transitioning their bible studies and other discipleship programs online and want to continue to support this important work.”
The membership offer includes free usage of the RMC’s normal resources, and large discounts on all other services provided. As they borrow physical resources, churches will still pay a portion of shipping costs, depending on the weight of items shipped.
RMC staff are following COVID-19 related hygiene protocols in handling resources they receive and ship. That said, as many of the center’s resources are delivered through the mail, users should use the same safety practices they employ as they receive other shipments.
During the pandemic, the RMC has also been offering educational support to local congregations seeking to understand copyright law during the transition to online worship in addition to coordinating CCLI streaming licenses in the Alaska and Pacific Northwest Conferences.
The Regional Media Center was developed years ago to provide a cost-effective, reusable library of media, and media-adjacent resources, for local churches. While the RMC is offering its services this year for free, local churches and persons called to support this ministry can give online.
“If your congregation can afford to assist the Regional Media Center, we certainly do appreciate it,” wrote McKnight. “Your gifts will be used to purchase new resources to expand our collection and stay relevant in these trying times.”