Just back from three days at a ministers’ retreat, I can’t resist passing along a cool idea. The featured presenter for the retreat was Scott Alexander, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Bethesda, Maryland. He told us that not long ago, the Bethesda church was engaged in a major construction project, and some of the nerds and techies at the church installed a Web cam so members of the congregation could watch the progress of the building.
When the construction project was over, Scott asked if the Web cam could be moved to the main church. It now provides a live video feed of all worship services. A Web cam may not be super high quality video, but it’s perfectly adequate for Web streamed video. The video feed is in the section of the church Web site that is password-protected, in order to protect the privacy of worshippers who might appear on the video. With the Web cam, shut-ins and people who are traveling can watch the Sunday morning worship services live. But also, when there’s a memorial service or wedding, the church can give out temporary passwords so that those who couldn’t make it to the service can still watch it live.
I’ve been thinking it would be fun to install a Web cam in the public portion of our church Web site. We would turn it off during worship services, to protect privacy of worshippers. But the rest of the time, we could leave it on so that anyone could see the play of the sunlight at different times of the day — leaving our virtual doors open so that anyone could come in and sit (virtually) and meditate in a peaceful setting.