With the ever-evolving changes in how we interact and meet during the COVID pandemic, it is exciting to see an evolution in how we can now hold our weekly Sacrament meeting.
As of September 11, 2020, the First Presidency of the Church sent out a letter that has authorized holding Sacrament meetings:
“…virtually, safely in person, or by hybrid in-person and virtual broadcast, according to local needs and regulations.”
Virtual Sacrament Meeting
Even though we have been given permission to hold in-person, virtual or a hybrid of Sacrament meetings we still are not allowed to broadcast the actual administration of the sacrament. Thus, the letter sent out on September 11, suggests:
“Since a sacrament broadcast does not include the administration of the sacrament, consider initiating the broadcast following the sacrament, or alternatively, holding the sacrament portion of the meeting last, so those viewing the sacrament meeting virtually see the program without interruption.”
With that clarification, we are still faced with a variety of ways to offer a virtual Sacrament meeting. Thus, we are sharing a few ideas that have bubbled up from some of our leaders on the Leading Saints Helpers Facebook group.
There are a several virtual platforms that are being used in some Units for a variety of Church meetings. These platforms include, Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and a less widely known platform, StreamYard.
Zoom seems to be the most widely used by our Facebook helpers and is used for Ward Councils, Presidency meetings, YM, YW and more. Zoom offers quality video, audio, and a wireless screen-sharing performance across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry. You can sign up for Zoom and use it’s free version that has the following options:
- Host up to 100 participants
- 40-minute maximum group meetings
- Unlimited 1:1 meetings
One of our Leading Saints Helpers advised that they are using Zoom this way:
“Live Sacrament meeting, keeping it under 99 people which is required in their area, with Zoom broadcast to the rest of the members. During the sacrament we mute the microphone and those at home administer the sacrament at the same time we pass the sacrament to those in the chapel. This has been working great for us. We installed a webcam on the front corner of the pulpit, get audio out of the house sound system, then pipe video and audio into a laptop. A technology specialist in the building and one at home keeps us informed if there are any problems.”
Another option that is especially useful if you have hearing impaired members is Google Meet. Meet allows conversations between two or more users. The service can be accessed online through the Gmail or Google+ websites, or through mobile apps available for Android and iOS. You can access their free options here. Their free features include:
- Anyone with a Google Account can create a video meeting,
- You can invite up to 100 participants,
- You can meet for up to 60 minutes per meeting for free.
Another one of our Leading Saints Helpers explained how they are using Google Hangouts (now Google Meet):
“Due to a portion of our ward being Deaf/Hard of Hearing, we utilize Google Hangouts Meet due to its auto-captioning feature. A downfall of the interface is that it is not possible to pin the both the interpreter and speaker.”
Facebook Live is a feature of the Facebook social network that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook. Live broadcasters can decide who on Facebook can see their video. Features of this free option include:
- You can easily go live with up to 50 people to a Facebook Profile, Page, or Group you manage.
- You can stream 8 hours on a desktop or 4 hours on a mobile device..
One of our helpers reported that they use two different virtual platforms for their Sunday meetings:
“YouTube Live for Sacrament Meeting and Zoom for Come Follow Me Discussions. YouTube Live works great for Sacrament meeting because its one way only and most everyone are familiar with how to use it. We just make sure its unlisted so only ward members with the link can watch.”
StreamYard is a platform where you can broadcast on your browser through social networks. (Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn) It offers a free option that you can try before opting for the premium plans to access more features. The free features include:
- You can broadcast up to 20 hours a month for free
- Have up to 6 different presenters
- Appears to have unlimited viewers
The Blessing of Technology
How wonderful that we have so many options to provide spiritual and social nourishment and connection to each of Father’s unique flocks throughout the world. Hopefully, this short overview, of several virtual platforms currently being used in some of our Units, will be a good starting point for you to decide what’s the best fit for your needs.
As we continue to evolve through this pandemic, other options may arise so stay tuned. However, our greatest “connection” for each of us is a very personal, and also ever evolving, relationship with our Savior and His Church.
Beth Young is the written content manager at Leading Saints. She is a convert of 42 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 32 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five adult children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She has been a “Utahan” for just over 2 years and enjoys the wonderful outside activities and people in Utah. She loves writing, teaching and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental, and spiritual health.