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– Our panelists this morning include Dr. Tom Smith, who is at Providence Church in Opelika area. Tom is sort of the Dean of worship leaders in the state. What, 40 years, Tom? It’s over 40.
– I’m the oldest proff.
– I didn’t say that loud. But Tom was many years at Auburn and did a Bible vocational work at Opelika Providence, and he stayed there after he retired from Auburn. And he’s had a big influence on a lot of people in Alabama in worship ministry. Our second panelist is Frank Jones. Franks is the associate at Hunter Street Church. Frank is Mr. Piano in Alabama, among Alabama Baptist, but he has a much broader ministry than that, works with the choir, helps the Hunter Street, as an associate and just years and years of experience. And they’re well into the process, I think. Aren’t you Frank And then also we have Ryan Laffel. Ryan is at Woodmont Church in Florence. Previous at First Baptist Athens, and also at Liberty Park and also at First Baptist, Montgomery. And he is in the throws of trying to bring his choir back. His first meeting is this coming Wednesday. And so he’s right in the middle of the process. And guys, thank you so much for being involved on our panel this morning, and I’m going to try to stay out of the way as much as possible and let y’all speak on your areas of expertise. First question I would like to ask, and it goes to Dr. Smith. When did you resume in-house worship and share in that evaluation of its effectiveness so far?
– We actually started in-house back on June the seventh, and we started with a small choir at that time as well. So we’ve been doing a choir since actually June the seventh. Just a little bit of the process there, we decided to go with just ages 50 and above. Our pastor and our COVID team felt like it’d be nice to separate those out from the younger ones who probably were out more and probably around more people and just to keep it safer. Plus the ones that are 50 or above might have a little more problem with the live streaming. And so that’s what we’ve actually been doing thus far. We do administer temperature checks to be sure that nobody has a fever. And actually, I think since June the seventh, I think we’ve only turned away maybe one person because of that. But people have done a really good job keeping up with that at home. And it’s worked really well. We require masks for all participants. If they don’t have one, we give them one. For the people that are on the platform, they wear a mask until they get on the platform, then they can take those off to help the communication be better. What we do is, I basically took the choir loft and decided, you know, with distancing, we can have 12 to 14 members. So we have 12, 14 members of our choir sing. And what we do is basically rehearse those 12 or 14 people the Wednesday night before. And we deal just with that particular Sunday. And so the rehearsals are very efficient and usually no longer than 30 minutes in that process. As far as evaluation, you know, the process it’s been really positive for me. I hope that participants either by live stream or they’re in person have benefited from the worship as much as I have. It has been just a blessing for me, very powerful. We miss the hugs, we miss the handshakes, we miss the full choir, the full congregation, but the preaching, the music, the giving, the prayer time, all of that has been just very, very strong. And even though it’s not like we normally have, I’m excited about going every Sunday.
– That’s great, Tom. We have a question from Don Blatney. He had an answer. Were there any other criteria besides the age, the 50 year old and above that determined who was in the smaller choir?
– Oh, now as far as the smaller choir, that is not an age. We do not use an age factor there. So it’s mainly just the congregation
– Oh okay.
– So for the choir, that’s yeah, I should have made that clear, no. And what we try to do is, I sort of plan a two months period. That’s about as far as you can go without it possibly changing and some still change sometime. But I plan out a two month schedule. And so then those two months, every choir member gets to participate at least two or three times during the worship time.
– Okay. Another question from Steven Logins, do your choir members wear your mask as they sing?
– They do not. We do not require the mask as we sing. We do spread them out. So there’s, you know, we have a six feet rule there in the choir, front and back, side to side. And so far, that has worked fine for us. Yeah, for congregational singing, we leave the mask on for them.
– Okay. Tommy Quinn, do you use masks in rehearsals as well?
– No, we do when they come in, but once we start the rehearsal and we’re rehearsing in the choir loft, they are singing exactly the way they’ll be on Sunday. And we do not use mask once we start singing. We do not.
– Okay, let’s move on
– I will say, you know, and some of you probably know this. There is a mask that’s designed for choral singing. And my son uses those at Auburn High School, and they work very well. The school, the board, you know, bought those for all the choir members. They’re a little costly, but he says they work very well.
– What I saw, Tom, I think it was singersmasks.com. The name of
– Seem like it’s something to do with Broadway too. Broadway. I don’t have it right in front of me.
– Probably two or three of them out there. I think it costs about 20 bucks a piece or so.
– Yeah. Alright, one more question before we move to Ryan. Do the choir members sing a special, this is from Michael Scarborough, at First Halsey. Are you using the choir as a praise team?
– No, we actually use the choir as a choir. We do not use them a praise team. So they’re actually in the choir loft. And to make our rehearsal time and all easier, my phone is blowing off here. But to make the rehearsal easier, we have used this opportunity to bring back some pieces that we’ve done through the years, that some people are already familiar with and it’s saved on the rehearsal time. And honestly, one other thing that I didn’t mention is, we’ve only 13 singers. Sometimes I just actually go to the choir loft and sing with them, and we don’t even use a conductor.
– Okay. I’ve got one more question that I’d like to address from Stacy Etheridge. Are the panelists aware of articles that have stated the six foot distancing is not sufficient for singing and preaching because of the higher rates of respiration and breath projection. There’s a lot of debate about that particular question. I’ve read three or four things on both sides of the fence that at least 12 or 15 feet is what you need for singing. I’ve also read differing opinions from different sources, CDC, and the NIH. Time magazine has an article out. I think in this past issue the research shows that there are droplets, smaller droplets that can remain in the air for three hours after they’ve been expelled. But there’s not a consensus about this beyond six foot thing. I was on a advisory panel at a local church, and I brought that up, that fact up and the three doctors on our advisory panel said that’s not true. There’s a lot of unknowns about COVID. And that would, in our world would, in my opinion, be the most unknown fact. Stacy, I don’t know if that answered your question.
– I will say one other thing relating to that, is, and this is not probably proven either. But we did in our worship place, we did install the ultraviolet light air scrubbers on all of our HVAC systems. And, you know, even if it helps a little bit it’s of course work that, and we also include the portable ones in our restrooms as well. I forgot to mention that earlier.
– Okay. One other fact, I don’t think maybe has gotten a physical fact that can affect the contagion rate is the ventilation. We have altered at our church down right here in Montgomery. We have altered two doors in our facility to enable cross ventilation throughout the whole sanctuary. And if you have a unit that cycles say, every 30 minutes or whatever, those are the things you need to get a professional in that field to take a look at in terms of ventilation. Alright, let’s move on. We’ve got some more questions come in, but I wanna go ahead and get to Ryan. Ryan, this is something that is sort of a before the return, but I think it’s an important question. How have you continued to minister even with your members in absentia?
– So when the shutdown occurred in March, I immediately set up a private Facebook group for our worship leadership choir, orchestra, others, audio, visual folks. We didn’t have one before. And that was just so that I could communicate with them and they could share things back with me and with the whole group, just a way to see each other and to improve communication other than just email or text messages. It also allowed me to shoot some video myself. My first one, it was in the choir room, just, you know, letting them know that I missed seeing them and them being there. So that’s been a good way just to quickly get out communication, prayer needs, all that kind of stuff. We also began Zoom rehearsals, April the 21st. And I have conducted a weekly Zoom rehearsal ever since April 21st. And I’ve had 20 to 30 participants every week. And I just simply treated it like a normal rehearsal as much as you can. So me and the pianist, we met here in our chapel and I’d had a drive through, pick up your music. One day I gave them two different times, a morning and an evening time to drive through and pick up their choir music so they would have it. Some chose to download it from planning center. Others actually wanted to have the hard copy. So that made the rehearsal time easier for some and more productive for them to have their music. But that rehearsal is probably the best thing that I could do. And I was really surprised at the number of people that logged in every week. Some not that tech savvy, but they figured it out. And the benefit was us all being together, being able to see one another and know that we were all doing something at the same time. And I think it provided an emotional and mental break from the craziness of all of this. And really provided some community that we were all missing desperately. And so that’s just been really good. I don’t know whether we accomplished much musically. But I hope so. We’ve learned some new worship songs. I’ve introduced new anthems. We’ve worked on some that we were working on prior to the shutdown. But it’s just really been really good and tried to choose music that would be encouraging and uplifting. And just try to, that would benefit them throughout the week. So that’s been really good after. I spent one week writing note cards to 80 folks. That took a while, but just, I used a verse from one of the songs that we’ve been working on. And just to drive that message home even more, we’ve been working on Thou O Lord instead of Psalm Three, that God is the lifter of our head, just as a real encouragement to our folks during this time. Our choir officers have been calling choir members periodically especially those that are older and have not left their house since March. So we have a few of those and some that don’t do technology, don’t do Zoom. So we specifically targeted those to try to just call and keep in touch with periodically throughout this time.
– That’s some good stuff, Ryan. I like all those ministry things that you’re doing, especially highlighting the folks that don’t do technology. I think they’ve sort of been a forgotten segment of our ministry.
– Yeah, and I provided. Someone asked me for a CD. So I burned them a CD of the choir music. Cause they didn’t do Zoom or don’t do planning center or anything like that. I delivered their music and their CD to their house and they have really enjoyed that. So just those kinds of things.
– Okay. Good stuff. Couple of questions have come in. Dwayne Stroud, Tom, does your choir sing specials? I thought you answered that but maybe I missed it.
– Yes, we do.
– Okay. Good question here from Don Blatney. Ryan, how do you plan to assist your weaker singers when they need to sit next to someone who has a stronger voice?
– So that’s been, I think the real challenge of the Zoom, is not having those stronger singers next to the weaker ones. And so some of the weaker ones just chose not to do Zoom. They didn’t wanna hear themselves. And so they may be, I have a couple that are husband and wife. So the wife was on Zoom and the husband may have been just sitting maybe in the room somewhere listening, but they just have not participated. I think they were maybe listening through Planning Center and those kinds of things. But there was no way to overcome that.
– Frank, have you encountered that with your live rehearsals?
– Well we haven’t had any real live rehearsals here.
– And I’ll address that in just a minute when we get
– Alright. Tom, how about you? Have you dealt with the uncertain singer question in terms of
– The way we’ve done that is, I select the people who come each week. And so I’m careful to have at least one or two singers in each section who are experienced and who can handle that and I pair. Then the others in the section might be more well, they’re just not quite as strong and would have a hard time doing it on their own. But as long as you’ve got one or two strong singers in each section, that’s the way I do it. And I don’t set up volunteers for each Sunday. I actually go ahead and send out the lists and here’s the group for this Sunday. And that way I can kind of control, you know, strong singers and the weak singers together to do that.
– Okay. Oh we had a question about using two praise teams instead of just one. Like if you’re doing two services, do you do two praise teams? Or do you do one each week or do you just have one that you’re using? Frank.
– Alright. yeah, I can address that. I think it’s very good to just have one group for the entire day, the entire morning. Whether it’s a preparation, a rehearsal, or setting sound levels. It’s so much easier to do that than have to, you’ve got one rehearsal and you’re done and you can move on. So I do think two would be a real challenge.
– I think you might be multiplying the contagious risk if you’re using two.
– ‘Cause you’ve got to sanitize between. Alright, let’s go to, Frank, let’s ask you about who comprise your decision making group to return to in-house worship? And is that group functioning in the same way in the choir restart?
– Okay, thanks. Initially, our executive staff, which is Pastor Buddy, and second pastor and couple other people, they made the decision to close and then they made the decision to reopen. And we opened on June 21st. And since then, a strategic planning team has been in place. And this is our executive pastor John Roger, our minister worship, our ministry families production team people, and somebody from a communications team. And they meet weekly and have sort of chartered the course for the next few months. Up until now, we’ve been in one service at 9:30 with, you have to register your attendance. You have to sign up for a spot in a worship service. But this coming Sunday, we’ll go to two services, 9:30 and 11. And for the first time since we’ve reopened, we will have childcare available for birth up to a grade six. So this strategic, I mean, they’re dealing with every facet of church life, not just worship small groups, which looks like we’re probably not gonna resume those probably til January, the earliest. And then fall. You think student activities, and everything that’s involved in church, it’s filtered in through that team right there, which they’re actually right now. As far as choir restart, probably the dates are being sort of put forth in that meeting. But as far as the organization and how that comes off, it will be up to our staff down here in the worship office. Right now we’re gonna do a choir drive by on this coming Sunday afternoon. I think we’re gonna probably head out a little bit of music and some goodies for choir members to come by and as a away to say hi to them. Then we’ll start a worship choir rehearsal on Sunday night. It’s either going to be the 27th or the first Sunday of October. We’re going to be meeting on Sunday nights at five o’clock in our Worship Center. Are y’all the only people in the building at that time?
– As far as I know. As far as I know that, I don’t know the other events that are going on right now during that time. So that’s our plan right now. And the objective on these rehearsals necessarily is not Sunday worship leader share. So we can do that right here. Some issues that we We’re trying to deal with that. But we are gonna petition things Christmas, which will probably be more virtual or anything else or maybe smaller on some groups through the month of December
– Okay. Since you mentioned Christmas, we’ve had a number of questions about Christmas rehearsals. Diana Workman, Tim Gayle, what are your plans concerning a Christmas program? How are you preparing music for Christmas rehearsals, preparation performance? Have you altered your thoughts? Let’s start with Tom on that one. Tom.
– We are in the process of trying to come up with what to do. But I’m leaning right now toward we’re gonna build our Christmas program, so to speak around a live nativity scene that’s outside. We already had that scheduled. And so the way it works at our church, we’ve got more land and we have anything which is really good. But we have a walking track that’s almost maybe a half mile long. The plan is to set up We should call it like a Walk Through Christmas. And we’ll do it kinda like the old judgment houses used to do where you’d go from one room to the other. We’re gonna set up different stations around the track and each one will have a scripture, you know, a big signboard. We’ll have a narrator that, and then we’ll have one musical piece that will be relative to that particular scene. And we’re gonna, I think we’re gonna do it all prerecorded and we will record the singers so that we don’t have to deal with outdoor mics and all that. And basically we’re doing the annunciation with Mary and the Angel, and we’re doing one with Joseph by himself the second scene. Third scene is the journey to Bethlehem. Fourth is the hymn. And fifth would be the shepherd, six would be the wisemen. And then everything would finalize at the live nativity scene. And basically that’s kind of what we’re thinking about doing, running that from probably six to nine o’clock on a particular night. Everything will be outside, spread the people out. We’ve got space to do that. I think it would be really safe. And we just can’t do an inside program really. We would probably have to do virtual or something else if we did not do it outside.
– You know, this, the whole thing with COVID has caused us to be creative, not only with logistics and creative with ministry, but also creative with the actual presentation time. And I know of no more creative people than worship leaders. It’s a challenge for all of us just to see how some of that is addressed. Ryan, since you’re in the middle of start back this week, have you Christmas yet?
– So yes. So about June, July, I had to scrap everything that I was wanting to do this year, put that on the back burner, hopefully for next year. But I have not made any decisions. We have been very cautious here at Woodmont in making plans so far out in the future. One, because we just had no idea what we would be able to do and did not want to plan something and then have to scrap it. So we are gonna do something. The desire is for us to do something. What that looks like, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking of doing a simple lessons and carols kind of service, and we do it multiple times so that we can spread out. There are participants doing smaller ensemble groups rather than anything with full choir. But I have not landed on anything yet. It’s just really hard to know what the situation is gonna be like in December plus the rehearsal time planning up to that point, how much are we gonna be able to do? If we do anything, I’ll probably try to pick things that the choir has done before. Although I’ve only been here just over a year. So I would try to pick very familiar things that they’d done in the past just to minimize rehearsal time. But I have no definite plans as well.
– We’re having meetings here at state ward to decide when to have meetings.
– That’s fine.
– Basically where we are. Frank, how about y’alls Christmas plans?
– We’re gonna do some virtual things with our adults. I’m still not sure what that’s gonna look like yet, but probably something that we can do with a live band and have the voices on top of that, with a click track. That’s what we’re looking at doing right now. We normally have three big events, which is our keyboard concert, keyboards and carols, which we are gonna do sort of scale it down a little bit this year. We normally do a big carols by candle light. This is with all of our student choirs and children’s choirs with a outdoor candlelight service. It’s probably going to be this year. Then our big adult choir program that we do is going to be, I think on Sunday the 13th, this year or something. Anyway, we’re scaling it back and we’re gonna do one big Sunday morning event on the 20th. I believe that’s the plan right now. And there will be some virtual things that we’ll do not only with adults, but with students and children to be a part of that mix that day.
– Okay. I’ve got a question from Tommy Quinn. When your singers finish leading, where do they congregate? Do you have them in a room if you have two services? I’m gonna take a stab at that one, and if any of the panelists want to also join in. We got word this week, that one of the praise teams in the state had a COVID outbreak. And they had an outbreak, not because they were singing together and being together on platform. They had a COVID outbreak because they were fellowshipping afterwards. Not only did they go out to eat a lunch together, but they also went to somebody’s house after they ate together. And one person was positive and two more, I think, tested positive after the symptom showed up. So I would be careful about, and it’s a challenge to us. We love to be around our fellow worship leaders and our singers and our choirs. But from what I read, most of the contagion happens as people are with the same people for a length of time. Whether that be singing too much in one spot, or whether that be fellowshipping together. Challenge for us at our church is to get everybody outside after they’ve had worship time. We have to really emphasize for them to leave. And apparently the contagion is less prevalent when you’re not in a closed space. So I don’t know if that answers your question, Tommy, but maybe that’ll help you there. if y’all want to mention anything about that. Okay. This is a great question from Michael Jones. What will be your deciding factors in returning choirs to normal CDC recommendations, local state testing numbers, vaccine. I will open that up for anybody. Have you all set up criteria or protocol?
– Go ahead Frank.
– Yes Everybody’s looking at all three of those things right there because of
– Do you have medical people on your advisory committee or your team that
– I know that some doctors have been consulted about different things. But as far as on that strategic plan I’ll tell you no. But I know that they’re probably being consulted on that.
– In our church, we have, our advisory team is made up of all our church members, but we have a doctor that’s on that team, a parish nurse is on that team, a retired for forensic scientist is on that team. And then we include the chair of deacons and maybe one at large member. And so they’re very helpful and sensitive. And it just takes some of the pressure off the staff to have somebody else that’s accountable as well. But I’m with Frank, it’s going to be all of those things. especially with the singing part, you know, I mean, we’re doing even social distancing when singing is about as close together as I want to get for a while. We’re just going to have to evaluate it probably at least till after first of the year and check what we’re doing.
– I’m of the opinion that the more information we have, the better And the more protocol things we can sort of check off on our list, the better. And I sort of highlighted having an advisory committee. We don’t need to be making those decisions by ourselves. We need to have people who know what they’re talking about and they have credentials to help us make those decisions to act right.
– We have an advisory team that has several doctors on it. One of the doctors is a choir member. And so everything that we restart or want to restart, we have to submit our proposal to them, whether it’s for our men’s Bible study, a youth event, whatever, it has to go through them. We first really work out a lot of the details and stuff, but ultimately that team has to see our proposal and how we’re gonna be socially distanced and how we’re gonna do our best to reduce risk. And then once they approve our proposal, then we can start those things. Our plan is to start rehearsal tomorrow, but I have no plans to return choir to Sunday morning worship yet. My goal was to get rehearsals going and then allow kids to be in school session for a while and see how that goes. And then at some later date, we’ll decide, okay, it’s time choir can return to our Sunday morning worship service. At that point, it will be, still very socially distant and all that kind of stuff and mask. But to answer the question, when will we go back to normal? I have no idea.
– This leads to another question Gayle Anderson has. We’ve been talking, I guess, mainly about worship service choirs, whether that’s adult or youth. Gayle has asked, can you address what consideration is being given to children’s choir rehearsals? Frank you sort of touched on this a bit ago, didn’t you?
– Yeah. And if were here, she could address it. I know that she’s dealing with her choir leaders and her children virtually right now through Zoom. I don’t know, like she’s sending them songs to learn. And I really think that possibly sometime during, and we’ve had Well, let me go back. Over the last few months, we’ve had some children involved in worship leadership, as far as reading scripture, or we’ve recorded them in their home singing a melody on pitch with click track and everything. And we’ve just integrated that into a song. So our children are involved in worship. They haven’t been forgotten at all. And what they do the remainder of the fall and Christmas will just be as we can open it up.
– Okay, Ryan, you wanted to say something?
– So we just started, well, this month we’ll be offering a Zoom option for kids. Our children’s minister and I work together on this. And so she’s got several tracks for kids to choose from that’ll go live on Sunday evening. And choir is a part of that for the first through sixth graders. And it’ll just basically be fun stuff. We haven’t decided on any specific things that would include them in a worship time. And then we will offer a recording of preschool music, maybe 10 minutes of something for them to do each week. That’s how we’re starting.
– Are they meeting in their regular space or are they getting a larger space to meet?
– It will be totally virtual at first. They will meet once a month in person outside. There’ll be other tracks and things for them to do as well. So no in-person rehearsals with kids yet.
– Question from Casey Spigner. How are y’all dealing with space issues on the platform? We’ve spread out our band and orchestra in the choir loft. And in order to add the choir back, the band orchestra would have to move back to their close together normal spots. Any thoughts?
– We don’t have a band or orchestra, so we’ve not had to deal with that. So we made it work really well because we’ve just had those 12 or 14 singers. And then it’s been the pastor and I on the platform. So it’s worked out. But I can see where that would definitely be some issues that would need to be worked through.
– Let me say a word about that real quick. I know in our situation, our orchestra has not played on the platform yet. We have used a couple of instruments, sort of like a, you know, maybe a trumpet and trombone and sax or something like that just to give a feel in our rhythm section. But the way we have used our orchestra, we have a little brass ensemble and woodwind ensemble. And they’re playing outside as people come into worship on Sunday morning.
– Oh, that’s good.
– When they get out of the cars, they’re hearing music playing. And we actually have a pianist playing in our foyer as people. So they’re engaged in worship from the time they get out of their car till they get back in their car to go home. And that’s been a way we’ve been able to use our orchestra ’cause we don’t have room to put an orchestra and rhythm section on the platform right now. So maybe something to think about.
– Okay. Another question that I meant to address in my introduction is, Susan Lavender says, I would like to know how large your churches are, if your answers are primarily for large churches. We’ve got a pretty good, a wide range of size of churches. Frank is in a very large church. Ryan would be in a medium sized church, I guess. What y’all run Ryan?
– Before COVID we were running six, 650 in worship.
– Okay, and then Tom, y’all run what? Maybe 250?
– Well, with two services we are running probably close to 350.
– Okay. Susan, I don’t know if that answers your question or not. Don Blatney has a related question. He says a small stage is a big issue for us. And I think our worship space the acoustic design and space design. That is a big issue for a lot of our churches in the state. I don’t know. You’re just going to have to utilize and follow a protocol, I think, with your space. I don’t know if maybe something like having the choir in the back of the room would be helpful. Some of the answers about space, I think will be solved, it will solve itself because of the number of folks that won’t be back at first. Would y’all think that would be true.
– Probably, yes.
– We also have some temporary platforms, either with winger or page right, on the side, you could increase the size of the platform or else the size of the choir loft, if there’s room. You know, even on the sides, you might be able to get a few more people that way.
– Okay. We’ll get back to the worship space. This fits in folds in right well. Ryan, what is your worship space and how are you adapting it to restart worship? We do not include choir in a Sunday morning worship service yet. We started back services, loft services May 31st. So currently I just have a worship team. I’ve only had four, which includes me, a pianist and a drummer. This coming Sunday, we will resume our normal worship team rotation. So that’s seven, or eight, which does include me plus piano, drummer and string players. And so no choir. So we have plenty of space. That’s not an issue. We will start rehearsals tomorrow night, first time in person with choir. And we are gonna hold those in our chapel, which would see you know, 250, 275 properly.
– You will have them out in the congregation space?
– Yeah. The choir loft in the chapel is two rows of 20, probably. So yeah, they’ll just be spread out in the pews for rehearsal. And I’m doing that because the acoustics in that room are better. Our main worship space seats 900. And I just felt like the sound would be lost in there, especially for those uncertain singers. So we’re gonna attempt it in the chapel. I’ve had 36 choir members say that they will return to in-person rehearsals out of, normally we’re running 55 to 60. So I have 36. So we’ll see what we can do with the space and the social distance. If that room will not adequately hold us, then I’ll have to move us to the worship center. The plan was for the choir to rehearse in the chapel, 6:30 to 7:30. And then once we resume orchestra rehearsal would happen in the main worship center beginning at 7:30. So we’re not reusing a room. The room is only used one time. That’s the goal. We’ll just see how that works out. I have other options for other locations as well. That’s what we’re doing on Sunday morning. We have two services now. We have one in another worship space that we have, and then we have the main worship space. So we are not reusing any room back to back for anything. So we’ll just see how it goes tomorrow night using the chapel. And then once choir goes back to Sunday morning, we’ll spread them out in the choir loft. We have a rather large wide platform.
– What’s your distancing there?
– It will be six feet. I mean, I’m not gonna go to the 14 or whatever. That would prevent us from doing anything. We do have the wings on the sides. So we have a fan shaped worship center. And so we have very few people sitting there. So I could block those off and put choir members there as well or orchestra members. We’re just kind of taking little steps at a time and then we’ll make adjustments as we need to. I’m not bringing anybody full groups all back at the same time. So a little bit at a time like the Sunday string players and keyboard players, then we’ll look at adding wind instruments at a later date.
– I think the step by step thing is very wise for rehearsal and for even the worship service. has a followup question. Tom, did he understand you to say that the music on your outdoor Christmas event would be prerecorded?
– Yes. And it would be mainly soloists again to not, On three of the scenes, we would have probably 12 choir members be there. But for that, we would not only we would have them sing, but we would probably do the voices on the track as well, to help with the setup.
– You will have some outside in person being there, but you’ll have them backed up with voices.
– Right. And even the soloist to sing, we will prerecord their voices and they’ll just lip sing or sing along with it. But again, the reason we were thinking about that is, again, it’s gonna be mainly so low and small, maybe two people in a scene, you know, or share per three people. So it’s gonna be simple, but, and we’ll have to have just a small sound system for each scene and small lighting for each scene.
– Okay. From Daryl Jennings, when y’all talk about doing something virtual, have any of you done virtual choir? Okay. Is that a video of a Zoom song, recordings of individuals? Will you show these in-house or just online or both? Frank.
– On Easter, our church along with, I think Dawson, Meadowbrook and maybe Lake Side, I’m not sure, and may have been another couple of churches. Anyway, we did a combined thing of, new arrangement of Easter song. And basically we sent our people, the track. And they just signed their part with a track in front of their video microphone, however they taped it. And then emailed that back and then somebody, I’m not sure. I think it was somebody from Dawson actually produced it and put it all together. And each church used that in their Easter Sunday morning service. But it was just really good, probably over a hundred singers, I guess, between the three groups. And, the ideal, you know, virtual, you just have to have somebody to be able to pull all that together. But it was something that we would show live in our service, but it would also, you know, on the live stream, it would also go out on that and it would be available for people to watch later.
– Okay. Alright, guys, we’ve got one more question and it’s gonna take a few more minutes. And I want each of our panelists to answer this question. It’s a deep question and I’m not sure there is an answer to it. Diana Workman asked this question, what type of longterm effect, in your opinion will COVID have on music ministry?
– I could talk about merely the choir angle because our worship is centered around the choir as being the primary praise source of leadership there. You know, as a long time choral person who loves choral music, you know, you can’t help, but be a little bit apprehensive in a time when we are already seeing choirs perhaps become smaller in a lot of churches and all. I have a little bit of concern that this might really continue to make that the case. On the other hand, I look in the faces of those singers who come back and rehearse on Wednesday night for that Sunday and they’re so excited about getting to sing and to perform. That’s the part of it that gives me a little bit of hope that, I think people realize what we don’t have and what we have not been able to do and getting just to get back and do it as small as it is, one step at a time. Maybe that’ll be the thing that will inspire us to be more excited about the opportunities that we have in worship prayers.
– Great answer. Frank.
– You know, people talk about I can’t wait till things get back to normal. I’m not sure that that’s a fair term to say right now, the word normal. I hope and pray that as we move ahead, that we’ve learned some things that will cause us to be more effective in our ministry in the days ahead. I know, pretty much, I never heard of the word Zoom as anything to do with media until mid-March. I didn’t know there was such a thing. And now it’s a part of our everyday life. And I think our media presence as churches will never be the same. Because I think churches of all sizes have sort of upgraded their cameras and their technical support just to be able to get a good presentation out to the church while they’re at home, especially over the early part of the pandemic. Here again, I think I agree with Tom. Some things that we took for granted we cherish now. The fellowship of God’s people together and being together, corporate worship. You can tell people that this is their first Sunday to come back to church. They are just beside themselves and so excited to be back in the House of the Lord. And even in singing in mask, it’s amazing what we’ve seen happen. And I think that will continue to be so. So I think it will be more selective in things that we do in the future. And I think God’s gonna be honored by it all though.
– Thank you, Frank. I wish I’d had some stock in Zoom before all this happened.
– I read your last statement Frank. I read an anecdote from somebody who was talking about the first time that they came back and they were not able to sing. Everybody had a mask on and they decided not to let them sing the first Sunday that they were back. But that they started singing something and everybody started humming in the car. And it was just one of those God moments that there was a unity and a desire and a real hunger for worship. It was spontaneous response. Ryan, can you answer our question, our last question.
– I agree with every thing that’s been said. There is no normal. I don’t think. We definitely like to think there is. I have a special needs child and so I’ve learned not to say that, to characterize my children as one is normal and Harrison is not. I think we Things are always changing. And yes, before COVID, I guess there was a normalcy to life or at least we thought there was. And I think COVID has reminded us that that there’s really no normal and that we have to be on guard and ready for anything that might come our way. I think that definitely for choirs, I’m hoping that we will be able to return. I’ve been so encouraged during this whole time, from my choir members about their eagerness to get on Zoom every week and embrace the awkwardness of it, not being able to hear each other, but being able to see each other and know that in our homes or wherever we were, we were lifting high the name of Jesus. And it didn’t matter that we couldn’t see each other. I mean, couldn’t hear each other or not. It really only matters what the Lord’s ears hear. And so they are excited to be back together tomorrow night. We did a test rehearsal a few weeks ago with eight singers to sing in with a mask. And the overwhelming response at the end was we will embrace the awkwardness and the uncomfortableness of this to be able to be together to sing, to hear one another. I pray that this shut down time has made the heart grow fonder, our being together and that we will not, as the church not take for granted the time that we get together for worship together. Yes, we can worship anywhere and by ourselves and with any number of people, but it is sweeter and more powerful when we do it together in person. And so I pray that the church will not neglect in the future our assembling together.
– Well, guys, this has been good for me. I hope it’s been as good for all of our participants. And I think you can see why I chose these three guys to be involved in the panel today. Their answers, their encouragement, especially to this last question, it just gets me fired up and gives me some hope and encouragement. Guys, thank you so very much for preparing for it and for your participation in it. And thank you for all the participants being here today. And greatly praying for all of our worship leaders around the state as you try to navigate through our situations today and know that God is with you in all of that navigation. He will provide direction. Thank you guys. Appreciate it.
– Thanks guys. I love you guys.