While in-person fellowship is suspended at St. John’s due to COVID-19 and we are all sheltering at home, we encourage you to meet virtually via Zoom, an online meeting platform. Virtual fellowship is still valuable and worth the time and effort to remain connected, especially in this pandemic situation.
The church has purchased a Zoom account, and we have many Zoom meetings scheduled. You can find them on our church calendar here, and a list of meetings is included in Inside St. John’s emails sent Tuesdays and our email newsletter sent on Fridays. Email the appropriate Zoom meeting leader to get the Zoom meeting information — a link, meeting ID number and password, and you can email email@example.com if you don’t know who runs which Zoom meeting.
Once you’ve set up Zoom on your device — a computer, iPhone, iPad or other tablet — it is as easy as clicking a link to join future Zoom meetings.
Getting Started with Zoom
On a computer: When you click your meeting link, it will prompt you to add Zoom to your browser if you don’t already have it – this is totally safe to do. This will take a few minutes, so give yourself some extra time before the meeting to install it. You will only have to do this one time. It may also just automatically ask for your camera and mic access – this is also safe! Once you grant access you will be connected to the meeting. You may have to enter your meeting ID number, which your group leader will also provide.
On a smartphone or tablet: When you click your meeting link, it will prompt you to download the Zoom app if you don’t already have it. (Download Zoom Mobile Apps for iPhone or Android.) Once it’s installed, go back to the link and click it to join the meeting, and it may automatically connect you. Or you can open the Zoom app, click Join Meeting, and enter the meeting ID number and meeting password provided by your group leader.
By phone: Your group leader will provide a phone number to dial in, and when prompted you will enter the provided meeting ID number. It will then ask you to enter your participant ID, followed by #, or just enter #. We do not require a participant ID for our Zoom meetings, so you will just enter #. Zoom now requires a password to enter meetings, so you will enter that as well. Others on the Zoom will be able to hear you, and you can hear them (like a conference call), but you won’t be able to see each other. You can use any type of phone to dial in – house phone, landline, flip phone, or smartphone.
* Tips for Using Zoom *
- We recommend using headphones during the meeting – otherwise, your computer hears your computer playing the sound of the meeting and then sends it out as what it thinks you are saying, creating an echo and sometimes a screech!
- For groups larger than three, we also recommend learning about the Mute button. Zoom tries to pick up all sound going on around you – the dog’s collar jingling, grandkids asking for a pencil sharpener, even the dishwasher starting a new cycle. If there are many people on at once this can get overwhelming. So if you’re not talking, hit the Mute button (usually in the lower left-hand corner of your screen) and it won’t pick up on all that background noise. You can unmute yourself any time (and if Zoom thinks you’re trying to talk, it’ll remind you to unmute yourself first!).
- If you’re calling in by phone, stay on “mute” unless you are speaking. Unmute yourself when you want to say something. Muting will vary phone by phone, but usually, there’s a “mute” button on the keypad or smartphone screen during a call.
- The default screen layout on Zoom is called Speaker – it shows the person who’s talking. It can be more fun to switch to Gallery mode (a set of 3×3 squares usually in the top right-hand corner of the screen) – this shows everyone at once if you’re on a computer (it will look like the Brady Bunch!). From a smartphone or tablet, you’ll likely only see 4 people at once, but there’s an option to scroll to the others on the Zoom.
If clicking the link doesn’t work at first, open Zoom directly and then enter the meeting number and password that way. Also, you can quit the program and start again. When all else fails, restart the entire computer or device!
Here’s an article that may help us as we start gathering as a church on Zoom: Ten Tips for Folks New to Online Meetings.
Take it From Church Leadership – Zoom is Great!
Members of our church leadership met on Saturday, March 21, via Zoom, and it was such a positive experience. Donnie Lambert, Chair of Trustees, was even able to “Zoom” from a canoe! Here is feedback from others who participated:
- Rhonda Tucker, our Lay Leader: “Zoom was easy for me, and I usually hand over the controls of any electronic device to my students! I made it work without any problems. Also I LOVED seeing the faces of those I want to hug and will hug when we can!”
- Richard Damberg, our Church Council Chair: “Zoom was great! Much better than expected. As we get better at it, I’m sure we will find other ways to use this technology.”
- Paul Ivey, Chair of SPRC: “It’s been a first-time experience meeting with church leaders via Zoom. I used my iPhone and was able to cast the meeting onto my smart TV! Quite impressive and not too hard for a tech-challenged guy!”
- Pat Cobb, Lay Delegate to Annual Conference: “As a tech-challenged old lady, I was pleased at how easy it was to get on Zoom, a delightful experience.”
- Margaret Sprunger, Church Council Vice-Chair: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God or from each other. Zoom is a new way to make that real!”
- Gray Sexton, Finance Committee Chair: “Was perfect. I really didn’t understand that was possible! Lambert does it from a boat on the river! Really? Dang!”
- Bobbi Marino, Lay Delegate to Annual Conference; “Social distancing is necessary. Spiritual distancing is not! Keeping together via Zoom — priceless!”
- Mari Walker, communications: “Our first Zoom went so well, and I feel physically better from having seen those faces and hearing those voices. Looking forward to connecting virtually with more of our St. John’s family!”
If you experience problems and want help troubleshooting, please reach out to Mari Walker via firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be more than happy to get you connected to our virtual fellowship opportunities.