From the beginning of November, St John’s Hoxton will stop live-streaming Sunday worship service and is encouraging all members of its congregation, except a few exclusions, to return to attending in-person.
The Revd Graham Hunter explains:
Since March 2020 we have live-streamed every a Sunday morning worship service every week. Some were streamed live from the Vicarage, some had recorded elements from church members, some were streamed from the church building. Since April this year, we have been able to return to our building for in-person worship on Sundays, but we have continued to stream the service - both to Facebook, and also to our Church Online platform.
Live-streaming services enabled us to stay connected through the worst moments of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the advent of live-streamed services made us realise they were also helpful for those who were housebound, those who were sick, those who had caring duties, those who were travelling, and also those working shifts. We’re glad that our technology has enabled us to stay connected - irrespective of the pandemic.
However, we’ve also heard from people that their habits have changed, and that they’ve fallen out of the habit of gathering for worship on a Sunday (read Hebrews 10:25!). Sometimes it’s just a bit too easy and comfortable to stay in bed and stick the service on your phone like you might do with Netflix.
Whatever the benefits of a live-streamed service, you can’t receive Holy Communion through your phone screen - and you can’t look someone in the eye as you chat over coffee after the service.
We’ve reviewed our systems, and decided that we would like to focus on our in-person worship services - gathering our church family again as best we can. And we think this means we need to stop the open, public live-stream to Facebook and Church Online.
We do want to keep providing for those who can’t attend in-person for any of the reasons listed above - and so we’re proposing to send a link to the live-streamed service to those who register in advance. Here’s how we think the system will work:
- If you know you can’t attend worship with the church family in-person, you can visit www.sjh.org.uk/calendar to register for the live-stream link. You do this by selecting the Sunday service in the calendar, and signing-up to receive a dedicated YouTube link. You must register by 10am on the day of the service.
- At around 10.15am each Sunday, an email will be sent to anyone who has pre-registered for the live-stream link. The email will contain a link to an unlisted YouTube event - so you will only be able to access the live-stream with the specific link in the email.
- We will do our best to engage with those watching online during the service, but we will no longer have a dedicated online team to chat with you or pray for you. Please remember you can access prayer and pastoral care at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have a specific prayer request.
We propose to implement these changes from the start of November, if not a little sooner. If you have any concerns or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get in touch.