Tips and Tools for Virtual Worship and Gatherings

Across New England, Friends are responding to local concerns created by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Slowing the spread and reducing the harmful impact of this serious virus requires us all to adapt swiftly. 

Local meetings are taking precautions, cancelling in-person worship and gatherings, and moving their worship and other events online, either in whole or in part.

The Yearly Meeting can assist you with videoconferencing tools or exploring how online options could facilitate your community's worship and fellowship. Please contact Sara Hubner at [email protected] or call 508-754-6760 and we'll follow up to connect you with help. 

Scroll down to find downloadable resources, creative ideas, tips, and more related to virtual worship.

Here are some tips and creative ideas for worshipping at a distance:

  • Worship in place at a specified time. Just knowing others are worshipping at the same time has some satisfaction. If the meeting has an email list, Friends can share their reflections afterwards.
  • For those who don't have a computer or choose not to Zoom, a one-on-one phone call with some silent worship can help maintain a connection
  • Considering offering one “high-tech” and one “low-tech” worship option; for example to worship via Zoom or to observing the same hour of worship without Zooming in
  • Create prayer partners to phone each other weekly to reflect on your worship experience
  • If some Friends want to participate in online worship but no one at the meeting would like to lead it, consider visiting another meeting (see a list of possibilities here)
  • Set up a recurring meeting so the link for all worship opportunities stays the same
  • Keep safety in mind. If you are sharing your Zoom access information broadly, review these considerations
  • Remind Friends that using technology for worship does not change expectations about maintaining respect for others' privacy. If in your meetinghouse you would never photograph worship or record vocal ministry without special permission, be clear that recording or taking screenshots of virtual worship is not permitted without everyone's consent.
  • Ask someone in your Meeting who has experience with Zoom to be available 15 minutes before the beginning of worship to orient Friends to the basic features
  • Invite far-flung members and former attenders to “visit” you for virtual worship
  • Consider using the breakout rooms feature for small group conversation, fellowship, worship sharing, or offering First Day School.
  • After worship, give people a five minute break to get a cup of tea or snack and then allow for fellowship or afterthoughts
  • If your group is larger than about six, you probably want to ask everyone to mute their microphone when they are not speaking
  • There is a slight time lag when using Zoom, making singing difficult. If everyone sings together it can be a mess—but a joyful one! Another option is to mute everyone except the songleader's mic and to have everyone sing along with the leader. If the song has hand motions, everyone can do them. For more detailed guidance on group singing over Zoom, check out this resource sheet on the topic created by the group Music that Makes Community
  • Consider using recorded music as a way for people to make the transition into a worshipful state of mind. To see a list of suggested songs, click here. To share your own song recommendations, click here.
  • If you can do it safely, have one person Zoom-in from the meetinghouse so that the familiar space is the background.

Below are select resources for connecting and worshipping virtually:

Tips for using Zoom: This document created by our office manager Sara Hubner, of Gonic (NH) Meeting, gives her best tips for new Zoom users.

Being the Church Online: This website created by Fresh Pond (MA) Friend Kathleen Wooten offers a collection of resources for digital worship, fellowship, pastoral care, and decision-making.

File Downloads

Gathering for Worship When We are Physically Apart

The nuts and bolts of forms of worship without physical gathering such as via Zoom or conference call. Original content from NYYM's Emily Provance, adapted with permission

Zoom Meeting Basics

This two-page handout, created by Durham (ME) Friend Craig Freshley, explains how to use Zoom for first-time users

A Quakers' Guide to Online Worship and Gatherings

This sixty-four page guide, created by British Friends, offers extensive explanations of how to approach various technical aspects of online worship and meetings, especially using Zoom

Sample Guidelines for Virtual Worship

This two-page handout shows Beacon Hill (MA) Friends Meetings guidelines and expectations for Friends worshipping online

Online Video Conferencing For Spirit-Centered Gatherings

This 5-page guide, by Friend Christine Betz Hall, speaks to online facilitators of small group sessions for spiritual encouragement and growth

Questions? Didn't find what you were looking for?

Contact Program Director Nia Thomas to begin a conversation.