Worship Livestreaming and the Delta variant

Worship Livestreaming and the Delta variant

Rev. Tara Curlewis, from the Synod’s Safe Church Unit looks at some of the ways Congregations have pivotted to online worship and what challenges the latest variant of Covid 19 presents as we find ourselves in lockdown (again).

Thinking About Online Worship and the Covid 19 Delta Strain

Prior to Covid-19 arriving in Australia, only a few congregations across the Synod were livestreaming worship. In March 2020, as the first lockdown people began, scrambled to identify ways to continue to offer worship resources, providing spiritual support to people connected with the congregation. The change was tremendous, and many were surprised by the connections being made with a much wider audience in the community.

The methods included a variety of printed resources dropped in a letter box, pre-recorded services and messages uploaded to the internet, and livestreaming zoom worship, worship from the ministers loungeroom or garage to worship coming from the church building. Livestreaming teams began forming across congregations.

On Palm Sunday last year, I found myself helping the local minister and congregation to produce livestreamed worship each week. Like many, we approached it with a team of people:

  • one running the cameras and streaming software,
  • one on the sound desk
  • one on PowerPoint
  • a person on the organ or piano
  • a couple of backup singers.
  • The minister

This approach worked well in the less contagious strains of Covid 19 and involved 6-7 people all from different households operating within the health orders for NSW.

The Delta Strain targets households

Today as I listen to the Premier and Dr Kerrie Chant the Chief Medical Officer describing high levels of contagion and how it targets households, I am concerned for the wellbeing of these volunteers and their families.

The current health advice for close contacts of the Delta is to get tested and to isolate for two full weeks regardless of a negative result, or until they get a negative test result. This includes;

  • Everyone who lives in your home
  • Everyone who has visited your home since your close contact exposure
  • Everyone who has travelled to work with you since your close contact exposure, especially everyone who travelled in the same car
  • Everyone who has had contact with you for any purpose – including preparing for the live streaming of worship in the same location.

This raises the level of concern to be Covid safe. If one member of your team is informed that they are a close contact after livestreaming then every member of the team and all their families is considered a close contact, and at risk.

The safety and wellbeing of our people is paramount so with the Delta strain we need to ask the question:

“How many households will be effected if one of the team becomes a close contact or even worse tests positive?”

Safe Teams during the Delta Strain

So, the Synod asks you to reduce the number of households involved in producing the online livestream.

Can you create household teams to run the livestream, the PowerPoint and the sound desk.? It may require some zoom sessions of training, and the experienced people might be present via zoom to oversee and guide the recording. In the current Delta outbreak across Greater Sydney one household is far safer than mixed.

Some worship leaders are very gifted and ca­­­n easily manage fresh worship every week from their own household. While others may be like me and struggle to hold a tune. Now is the time to consider reusing the music that you have recorded live in the past 18 months. Live music is a luxury we cannot afford at the moment.

With the Sydney hotspots and new cases escalating, consider partnering with another congregation pre-recording segments from respective homes and then uploading in time for Sunday worship.

Please keep more households safe by further limiting the number of households coming together in the same space.

May God continue to bless people through creative approaches in ministry.

Rev. Tara Curlewis – Safe Church Unit

For more information about the CCLI Livestreaming Plus Licence visit the website.


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