Author: Quakerkathleen

What’s a Quaker look like? – a new project is born

What’s a Quaker look like? – a new project is born

I have returned this week from our Yearly Meeting sessions.  This year my shape of work changed enough to give me space to embark on a new experiment – and I hope it will continue after initial successes.

I wanted to have a way to take pictures of Friends at an event that told a story, was easy to manage, and invited others to learn together.

Here’s what I learned:

People loved this!  I’ve never done a “photo booth” at an event before, and I was surprised at the way folks enjoyed it.  Only one person seemed to know what I was doing without explanation – this was not my target audience for this kind of thing.

The frame being big enough for two or more invited folks to share.  Sometimes a person who didn’t know anyone in the immediate area would invite a “stranger” to be in the picture with them. I was hesitant to make it this size, but I would recommend it.

It caught attention.  People started to ask for permission for me to take a picture.  I asked in the moment for permissions to share widely (especially children).  Some kids wanted me o tak their picture, and then a guardian would catch my eye and say “I don;t think you will have p[permission to share this”.  I took the photo anyways, for fun in the moment, and then immediately deleted it.  Young kids shouldn’t be on social media themselves anyways – they might never know I didn’t share it but they got to still “pose” with their friends.

The frame was pretty light, and easy to carry.  In the future, I might make it more sturdy so it can be left in a “photo studio” standing area for people to use themselves

I made this a standard print with a general message – so i can use it at multiple events.  At NEYM we have used the hashtag #NEYM2018 for the whole year (another experiment).  I would like to use this for events in 2018.

I used the message “I’m a Quaker in New England” with our logo.  That is consistent with our messaging for New England Friends on social media channels – we do not use NEYM or New England Yearly Meeting as often as we use “Quaker in New England (region)”

I created the graphic in Canva – on a standard poster size that I knew could be printed at my local print shop (I send it online).  I then glued the poster to a large piece of cardboard, and cut out the inside with an x-acto knife.  I may experiment next time with attaching it to a large piece of plastic (used for temporary lawn signs) to make the whole thing more sturdy.  I wanted to make it easy to recreate in case I needed to make another quickly.  I’m happy to share the template!  I may create a simpler one for meetings as well.

I used Animoto to create a fun sharable video!  I was clear in my sharing that these photos are just who I managed to meet – they are not representative of ALL the Quakers in New England…. yet!

Update:  This is easily replicable in other YMs.  Here’s an updated example Friends in NYYM may see soon….

 

Wherein the minster reflects on returning to home.

Wherein the minster reflects on returning to home.

This has been quite a full week, at the 358th Annual Sessions of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers).  This particular post is a direct reflection on how support has worked for me this year from Fresh Pond Meeting.  I carry a minute of travel from my meeting, and am supported with a specific support committee, and much prayerful help from the wider meeting body.

Here is a video of some of our Fresh Pond Friends – not at Annual Sessions (from our Facebook Page).

I can’t completely cover how our meeting members were used at Annual Sessions.  I saw them all over the place.  For example:

Friend Kristina shepherding and facilitating the plenary sessions.  Her framing lead us into the deeper worship that allowed us to be opened and to listen.

Friend Bruce was approved as rising clerk – with an intense two days of wrestling and concern – not for Bruce’s skills and faithfulness to the leading, but with the continuing questions of how we can both so deeply feel a rightness in this moment of naming a white cisgender man to this place of leadership – and yet be so deeply committed to the work of naming the white supremacy that does not allow us to see gifts equally and support them fully in our community and the wider world.  He handled this with quite a bit of grounded prayer and presence and grace that I will use as example in the future. Actually, I’m not sure how he “kept his cool” but I think God figured it out for him.  😉 Here’s a calmer moment of current presiding clerk and rising clerk.  Bruce will now begin following Fritz around all year.  Keep him hydrated please.

Friend Phil served as a fine example to our youngest and newest Friends in child care (lots of them!) and shared their epistle with the body with grace and humor grounded in much Love.

Friends Laura and Lynn once again joined with the JYM program, a faithful example of nurture and some really tough behind the scenes work that has contributed for years to our youth feeling loved and listened to.

Friend Will spoke to concerns in meeting for business and Permanent Board, also in his new role as internal nominating clerk.  This will be a steep learning curve I suspect even for a seasoned Friend with those gifts – in a time of many shifting changes and lenses in our body of Friends.

Friend Robert was all over the place in small conversations, in openings of support, sharing his wider background with work with the AFSC and committing to bring back this work of connecting and witness among Friends to our meeting, the Boston area, and beyond.

Friend Christopher serves on our Sessions Committee – the planning takes place all year.  I didn’t get a chance to do much more than say hello in passing to him, but every time I saw him he was in conversation with folks that seemed like it was being fruitful.  That has been my experience of this Friend as I have known him through the years.  His commitment to Earthcare witness as an imperative on his heart is a key piece of our need.

Friend Nancy brought news of AVP work to us all.  In a report, in a workshop, and in many conversations and meetings in the dining hall about next steps.  Our broken world needs her gifts with AVP and she was networking them this week.

Friend Mary brought immigration news – how we are attending to this work in our own meeting communities, and how we might better connect that work so we are all lifted up and helped.  Her report (with Friend Judy from Beacon Hill) was so wonderful – they asked us in the gathered body to stand if we were in a meeting that did various kinds of work.  As we stood up and sat down, and looked around and saw all the Friends who were involved in varied ways (knowing they represented so many more not in the room) we made the work visible.  We will need this care going forward as we unite further in such challenging work that requires community.

Friends Maille and Nahar contributed to youth programs.  Nahar read an epistle to the gathered body!  I would be nervous about that.  I cannot really claim to know enough to share their stories.  Ask them please.

“New to Friends” Paula also attended!  Hooray!  When I spoke with her she was enjoying her experience.  I hope we continue to give her the support she needs to learn and love us in our community.

So there’s the first half of my story.  I apologize for leaving out some stories – these are highlights, and we will hear this more fully in meeting for business from our designated representatives to Sessions.  Below is a video I made with lots of Friends’ photos – including some folks from Fresh Pond Meeting.

Here’s the second half.  Yes, these particular Friends were in this particular geographic place.  But they all carry the support of the meeting.  And where were others who were not there at Sessions?

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of working as NEYM staff at sessions, and was new to Fresh Pond Meeting, I received a reminder of great encouragement.  I was told that as we gathered for opening worship on Sunday at Sessions, Friend Erica would be at home at our meeting, holding care of worship, as she often feels led to do on that particular day.  That year I could strongly feel her presence miles away in that work.  Every time something got hard for me, I remembered that another Friend on “Team Fresh Pond” was caring for worship somewhere else geographically, while with us ALL spiritually.  It was of great comfort and hope to me, and I have shared that story as I travel among meetings.  That is how I feel when traveling – carrying my travel minute from Fresh Pond.

BUT WAIT!  Even more good news!  Just now I have learned of an addition to my story – Friend Cathryn also traditionally shares the care of worship, and logistics of setting up during that worship day when many of us are at Annual Sessions.  I’m glad I wrote this story.  I’m not at all surprised that Friend is on that team on that day (and many other days as well).

So what I hope we consider, is that perhaps we were ALL in our places, as we are called to be faithful.  Some of us in this particular year were away at the gathering we call Annual Sessions.  Some of us were at Fresh Pond Meeting doing the work of listening in worship there.  Some of us were not at worship anywhere on that morning – because we know we can always access the Divine wherever we are, and we might have had to sleep in to prepare for more work later in the day, or recover from caring for a family member or working the night shift.

In out tradition as Friends we do not “keep days” for a reason.  Every day is sacred.  But more than that, every YOU is sacred too – and that of the One who calls you to work and rest in whatever season it is time for.

I was so happy to be here this week, and share my stories of travel and love and support for and from Fresh Pond Meeting.  I’m more grateful simply to be a part of a messy, faithful community that is growing into getting things as faithful as we can be.  We still (and always will) have much work to do in being welcoming, in seeing that of God in others that come to our meeting, and lifting up the gifts and ministries we are given through individuals to hold as a body.  But it feels like the Invitation to do this is being heard by many, and still being offered to others.  In my tenth year of being a Friend, it is good to have felt this perspective and a clear sense of “home”in this place.  Thank you Friends!

New York Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions

New York Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions

“Those of you who are kept by age or sickness from more active work, who are living retired lives, may in your very separation have the opportunity of liberating power for others. Your prayers and thoughts go out further than you think, and as you wait in patience and in communion with God, you may be made ministers of peace and healing…” London YM, 1923

This week I was able to experience those “prayers and thoughts” made manifest in the beloved faith community of New York Yearly Meeting.  I have had a close and growing relationship with many Friends in NYYM – perhaps it is in part its similarities in was to my own Yearly Meeting, perhaps the closeness.  I think it is more than that – I’ve experienced an opening of relationship and the affirmation that we Friends of these Yearly Meetings (and others as well) are a help to each other.

I had no formal role or task while here, and my daughter opted to stay home – I was totally free to simply be present as the Spirit moved me.  I was often headed for a particular group or meeting, and would get “sidetracked” by a Friend wanting to share some news or reconnect.  Those sidetracks WERE the Holy work for me this week – being in community and reminding everyone that we are all connected.

 

I joined with hundreds of folks being faithful, doing hard and holy work.  Making effort to listen and see different points of view around thorny issues of discernment.  Making space in the dining hall for younger folks who couldn’t see over the counter to get their meals.  Group singing – sometimes in tune, sometimes in rhythm, ALWAYS in love.  Small pockets of worship in early mornings, over meals, in late night conversations supported not only the attendees in the moment, but the body as a whole.

We heard news of God’s work being done, on the streets, in prisons, in our meetinghouses, on the internet.  We wrote notes and cards and prayed for Friends who were absent, and Friends who struggled while at Sessions.

A significant time for me was sitting on the porch.  Silver Bay has an expansive, inviting porch.  It is filled from early morning to late evening with folks chatting, and visiting, and connecting.  You may sit with Friends you have known for years.  You may make new ones.  In every instance, whomever I sat down next to had a story to share, a word of tender advice, a question about others I’d seen in my travels among Friends.

For me, Friend Beverly captured the spirit of the week and its people.  She had struggled with significant health issues, and might not have been able to attend.  She asked all she knew to pray for her – and her health improved enough to attend.  I’m aware that prayer is not the only “cure” for difficulties (if you have a doctor – please go!) but Beverly embodied the prayers, the prayers, and told us all how she was carried by God this week.  That holding is available anytime to us, in any place.  We were all held in that space at this gathering.

And now we go out – back into “the world” of our mission field.  We are still held.  We are still the beloved community.  It has no walls of exclusion – just a deep, expansive center that calls us into community.  My prayer is that we all have had the directions to that place written on our hearts.  We must seek it for all, and create it as we go.

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What Love will do. Being in relationship.

What Love will do. Being in relationship.

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Let us then try what love will do. – William Penn

Last weekend I attended a “Jericho Walk” – around the Manchester Federal building where folks are required to report for ICE check ins (perhaps to be deported).  These days are complicated for me – both filled with Joy and Hope that so may come out in solidarity, and yet so filled with despair for what our government is doing right now.  There are many aspects to this issue – but certainly, God’s children are being persecuted.

This day was a little different.  I was at the back of the line, and a man I had not seen before, without a sign or clergy garb, jumped in,  He began to ask Friend Mark a lot of questions about what we were doing, and why, and who we thought we were helping.

It was soon clear from his framing of the questions that he had a different view than us on the walk.  He tended to use “facts” about immigration that embraced stereotypes, and were not based in the real world experience of us and people we knew.  Mark respectfully listened, and calmly presented another view.  As the questions got more forceful, I also jumped in and shared my experience, and that of others I knew personally.  A third walker with us jumped into the conversation later on, again providing alternative responses to this man’s deeply held views.

At the onset of this, the man asked Mark “So, do you expect the walls here to fall down, after you walk around seven times?”  Mark had a great answer – that he “hoped perhaps walls wouldn’t physically fall, but that hearts would be changed.  That would be even more welcome and dramatic.”

I think this was a lesson for me.  This person who jumped in and starting asking questions kept talking.  He was respectful, and listened to our answers (even if he didn’t agree with them).  We learned he was a construction worker on his way to work, he’d stopped when he saw us, and wanted to find out more.  He said he was a Christian, and did not dispute Jesus’ call to love all, but had a concern about government systems being overwhelmed.  He had taught overseas, and had traveled.  We were not going to change his opinion.  He was not going to change our call.  But, I hope that we modeled some sort of speaking hard truths in Love that day.

To be clear:  I’m not calling for us to be “nice” and allow untruths and abuse to happen.  We must always be clear to prevent discrimination and abuse when we see it.  But to do this while being grounded in Love, to recognize that of God in the enemy as well as friends, seems also important to me. Perhaps this fellow will not change his views. Perhaps the next time he sees a story on the news, or goes to vote, he will think about what we said, in the quiet, and his heart may be changed.  That is not my responsibility.  Mine is to witness, to speak, to show up.

This call for a better future, a safe and better planet and kingdom of God, involves us all.  I can’t be on the “winning” side of justice without acknowledging there are more than two sides.  I must model this path of love for my neighbor, not just the ones being oppressed, but the oppressors as well.  To remove the systems of oppression, to help others create a new way, has to involve us all somehow.  It’s hard, and I’m not sure how to do that without anger most of the time.

Here’s a video from FB of the walkers

 

 

West Falmouth Preparative Meeting (Sandwich Monthly Meeting)

West Falmouth Preparative Meeting (Sandwich Monthly Meeting)

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Last First Day I had the deep blessing of worshiping with Friends at West Falmouth Preparative Meeting, part of Sandwich Monthly Meeting.  As additional blessing, I was able to meet with Mark Condo and his family.  Mark is pastor of the Mansfield First Friends Church in Ohio (EFC – Eastern Region). We met at Pendle HIll a few years ago, and it was great to reconnect with him and welcome him to a part of New England Quakers!

Cape Cod in the summer is a busy place.  I arrived early, and drove through a bit of the town center. – a bustling town green, folks walking and chatting, enjoying the day already.   When I arrived at meeting I was warmly welcomed by a greeter who asked where I was from, and told me a little about the meeting.  I sat for a few minutes in the worship room, centering down and feeling the quiet space.  I was still early for worship, so I got up and took a walk around (and met the Condo family outside).

About 40 of us settled into worship that morning.  There were a number of kids, who were accompanied out of the meeting after about 10 minutes.  I noted the Condo family children were also welcomed to come with the other kids of the meeting.

The worship felt deep and comforting  the morning breeze wafting through the room.  There are a number of short messages of simple gratitude, for the day, for the life of a member who had recently passed.  Her life was lifted up as an example of quiet and faithful service.  I wondered how many of our meetings are filled with these Friends, attending each week, being a part of the meeting and modeling the Love for all.  Friend Mark also shared a message of deep encouragement,  He shared how he had learned a brand new, confusing skill this week on vacation (clamming!) and how things went so much better when he dropped his expectations and just agreed to follow and risk.  In this time, many Holy applications for us all.

After meeting announcements were filled with reminders about pastoral care, and local upcoming events.  Wider events in our YM (such as Adrian Moody’s upcoming visit, and a talk at Beacon Hill Friends House) were also shared.  The meeting seemed interested in both local work and the wider Quaker world.    I was grateful to have the opportunity to share with the meeting how they might access video recordings of some of the upcoming events.

Fellowship was lively and filled with food and good conversation.  I felt warmly welcomed, and learned much about the meeting.

And lo and behold – today was an exciting day.  The wall was scheduled to be put up!  A treat!  A number of meetings in New England have a wall that can be raised.  This unique feature in West Falmouth has a beautiful pulley system, and it takes the work of a number of Friends to get that wall up!  The wall was meant to separate the men’s and women’ meeting for business originally  In many meetinghouses now, the wall is kept down to separate fellowship and meeting sides, and can be raised for large events or to allow better airflow n the summer.  Note the young guests were allowed to help!  What a welcome to New England quirky life on the Cape.

Video of the wall going up here:

This meeting was filled with tender moments, deep worship, a warm welcome to visitors and lively fellowship. As I was leaving, the meeting was gathering to hear Friend Eric speak about Elton Trueblood (another New England greatest hit!).  I left my travel minute there with the clerk of meeting to be endorsed.

This visit was a reminder for me of the simple, quiet joy that happens in community.  I still am called to visit and worship with Friends across New England.  Every visit I make confirms this call.

 

 

 

An easy guide to GIFs – graphics that catch attention

An easy guide to GIFs – graphics that catch attention

I love to learn new things.  I like posts that seem fun.  This fit the bill for me!  I get asked how I create these sort of posts more than anything else – and with Canva they are very easy to do!

What is a gif?

A GIF, or Graphical Interchange Format, is a bitmap image format that was invented on June 15 1987 by a US software writer called Steve Wilhite for CompuServe.

Gifs are highly compressed images that typically allow up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, which in total allow up to 256 colours across the image.

For comparison, a JPEG image can display up to 16 million colours and pretty much reaches the limits of the human eye.

Back when the internet was new, gifs were used extensively because they didn’t require much bandwidth.

 

How do I create these fun and eye-catching posts for Instagram and Facebook?

1. Create your final scene of the gif in canva.

Here’s mine asking for volunteers for Annual Sessions:

Note it is complete.  This is what the final frame of the picture will look like.

2. Make a copy in canva (you’ll want to have a copy in Canva of the final version in case something goes wrong and you have to start over).

3. Using the original final picture, remove each element in the reverse order that you want them to appear.  So, if you are writing out a sentence, remove the last words first. Each time you remove one element, download that picture.

Here’s some of those pictures, with various parts (the speech bubbles) removed:

 

 

4.  Now you will need to use a gif maker.  I use Giphy.  Create an account – and then click on “create a gif”.  Follow the instructions for uploading pictures.  I upload all of them at once (do not worry about the order yet).

5.  Take a look at the order of your pictures. They most likely are backwards, depending on how you uploaded them.  You will need to change the order, so words are added in order (or pictures in whatever order you like that makes sense).

6.  Take a look at the speed.  Can folks read it easily?  You want to make it fast enough to be seen quickly and not lose interest – but slow enough to read any words easily.

7.  Create the final gif.  Giphy will give you buttons for sharing, and you can also download the file (as a gif file) and upload yourself.

Tips: 

I mark all mine as “favorites” so I can find them later.  I often can reshare them from my phone.  Creating these is more time intensive – so I often create gifs with more “evergreen” content to use often.

Too many words are hard to read.  Short, simple Quaker quotes seem to work best in this format.

These are often the most shared post I create – especially if they are fun or silly.  I tend to use them for promoting events, or for noting special days like Quaker birthdays.

What gifs do you find most fun and popular in your news feed?  How might you use these to share news of your meeting’s ministries and message?

 

What’s a Tech Chaplain? (and might you called to this service in your meeting?)

What’s a Tech Chaplain? (and might you called to this service in your meeting?)

This is Shamika Goddard.  She is the person who first introduced me to the term “tech chaplain” – and she continues to be an inspiration.

Here’s Shamika talking about how her ministry emerged while at Union Theological Seminary.

 

I have come back to her videos and concept often as I travel in ministry among Friends.  It has been my experience that we Friends often are confused about what ministry has been, and currently is – and a new emergence is even more confusing.

Yes, I know some technology “stuff”. It’s helpful and important.  What makes it a ministry though (for me) is the call to connection.  The ability to spread the Good News, to make the Church visible, to use these tools of technology to support a very old message – that “Christ has come to teach his people himself”.  He arrived in a field with George Fox in the mid 1600s.  Today, I wonder if he’d share that message on twitter (I do not wonder.  You might!).

In this past year I have had the gift of travel among Friends, talking about technology and how we use it as one way to help be more faithful.  I talk about websites and Facebook pages and iPhones.  I THEN also inevitably end up asking the question “Now you have a website.  How will you describe your faith journeys to others, in ways that issue a Holy invitation?” And we’re off to a conversation about service and faithfulness and how we seek the Divine.  Hooray!

There are always more practical concerns.  Those have elements of Holy nurture and the Divine as well.  In a recent visit, I was asked by someone who knew me only by Quakerly reputation, “Hey, aren’t you that computer Quaker person?”.  Yep.  He pulled out his flip phone, and asked me about group texting.  The larger story?  He wanted to keep in touch more easily with his family, now that his wife had passed away.  In that very gathering I had heard his wife’s memorial minute read (I had never met her).  I took the opportunity to ask him about how he connected with his children, how life was going for him now, and how he was finding support from his Meeting and Quarterly Meeting.  And yes, we came up with a group texting option as well – and I also noted is number so I can visit his meeting soon!  Many folks already do the nurture part so well.  In my own meeting just this week, we rallied to provide some meals for a Friend.  I suggested a new digital system for doing so, to make things easier.  Our google groups, our Facebook page, our website all supplement and support the work of nurture and pastoral care that has already been going on for years in our meeting.

I’m also led to be helpful.  Everyone is in a different place.  It’s hard sometimes to ask for help in a new way.  Sometimes it can seem like “everyone is on the internet” and you might be the only one who doesn’t know how to work that new tech device.  You are not alone.  I make lots of mistakes when I experiment.  Modeling how that can be okay, and even fun, is an important part of this ministry for me.  I suspect I learned that best when I taught middle school music technology – so many times my students seemed to know more that me.  We turned those moments into a great time of group learning for all of us.  It felt risky for me, and I try to remember that feeling when I’m explaining a very new thing (or learning my own!)

Making the work of the Church visible seems an important call right now.  Whether I am at a witness in person, visiting a meeting, or seeing the work of others online – sharing and creating places for conversations and information seems a helpful place.

 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  (First Corinthians 12)

As I have traveled this year, and grown into where I sense God is calling me to be, I have been comforted by this verse.  I sometimes long to be that “other” Friend who gets to be a public speaker, or do “great things” in another context.  But I am given everyday  in these small opportunities with Friends on the internet and in person, a chance to be taught again and again what service looks like, and how to listen and be led.

Who in your meeting carries this ministry of (digital) connection?  How might you nurture it in service to the Body as a whole?

 

 

Facebook Live – making the Church visible

Facebook Live – making the Church visible

In the past few weeks, I’ve embarked on a new experiment in digital ministry – Facebook live!  This is a very popular method of sharing on social media.  I’m learning as I go – and have made some mistakes along the way.  However, with a little pre-planning and practice, the results have already been good enough for us to use to share our message.  Remember “good enough” is often okay with your audience – be transparent about your learning curve!

Here’s some basic tips to get you started.

Equipment:

  • I used an iPhone 6.  Most any smart phone will do.
  • I have an attachment for lenses for the phone.  I did not use them in this case – but could have and had them handy.  In my case, they screw onto a phone case easily.  I can then get a shot from further away, focus in, etc.
  • Microphone:  I used a small and powerful “shotgun” mic designed for a phone camera.  Audio quality is more important than video quality in most cases.  Don’t overlook this!  IN most cases, I hope the speaker has a microphone set up in the room.  My mic will pick that up.  The hardest part is when people in the room ask questions, without a mic.  It’s good policy to have your speaker amplified for the attenders in the room anyways – get into that practice!
  • Tripod: Also important.  Test it out beforehand, make sure the attachments work, and you can move it easily as needed.  Mine is sturdy, but also light (I leave it in my trunk).  Make sure you have all the brackets and gadgets to attach all your pieces (microphone, lights) to the tripod.
  • Lighting:  I made sure the room/speaker was well-lit.  I do have a small, bright LED light that attached to my phone for close up filming.  I also have a portable lighting kit.  In general, I didn’t worry too much about the lighting, as long as the sound was good.
  • Power: This takes a lot of electricity.  I prefer always to have everything plugged in if possible – I have an extension cord (and tape to secure it to the floor) with me in my kit. Back up battery power is also a good idea.  Make sure everything is fully charged before you start as well.
  • Laptop:  Remember it will be hard/impossible to use your phone to comment on posts while you are “live”.  I had a separate laptop set up to watch the feed, and comment.  Someone else can also be assigned to run this and comment on the live feed and answer questions.

 

Technology:

You need to broadcast from your Facebook page, not your personal account.  This requires using the Facebook phone app, or the pages app (I just used the general one).  My microphone has an option to hookup headphones so I can hear what is coming through the mic.

Wifi:  make sure it is strong, or you have good signal.  If you are on wi-fi – shut off all your other phone notifications.  They won’t appear in the video later, but they will be distracting to you.  Also, sometimes they can interfere with the microphone and produce static.

Make sure you are in “landscape” mode before you start!  I was not the first time I did this.  My audience saw everything sideways when I turned the camera to fix it after I had begun filming.  Once you are live the phone will NOT turn to another view.  You must turn it off and turn it back on.

Other helpful things:

I created a few graphics to post on the page a few minutes before – “Please be patient, we will go live soon” etc.  Also a “technical difficulties” post just in case!

Decide if you want to film in parts, or one big “event”.  You might want to take a break after each speaker, etc so people who watch later can do so in smaller parts.

Announcements and introductions need to be both for people in the room and online.  This thinking is new for me.  When you begin broadcasting – make an announcement to the folks watching at home – how will they ask questions, etc.  Remember that if an in-person audience member asks a quiet question, you (or the speaker) might need to repeat it so everyone online can also hear it.   You can type the in-room questions into your comment box online as well.

There is a delay between what you are filming, and what is shared on Facebook.  Remember this for live questions and answers.  I have found having someone just keep track of the questions, and repeat/ask them all at once in the room helps with this delay.  Having someone watch this on a laptop will let you know how it is going in the time of the delay.

Afterwards:  Facebook will ask you if you want to post the video to your page.  YES.  then you can share, etc.

As a page administrator – you can also download the video as an mp4 file and then upload it to your YouTube channel.  This is very helpful – for sharing later, in newsletters, embedding on your webpage, on email.  Set that up beforehand and you can upload it quickly and have it ready to go.

Remember the live stream is not always well attended as it is happening.  That’s a really good thing – many folks might simply not be available during the live part, and will watch later.  Don’t be disappointed if folks tune in late, leave the broadcast, etc.  They are home listening and doing what they need to do.  Isn’t it great they can be a part of this also?

A simple search on “Facebook live tips” will give you even more information – I suggest you read all you can, and talk to others about what might work best for you.

Use this for smaller events and notices!  My advice about is for a bigger talk or “event””.  How about a series of small interviews with meeting members, on why they are a Quaker?  Or a simple advertisement for an upcoming potluck?  Are you at a witness or protest?  Share the news live and ask for prayers and support!  Don’t create new events – just broadcast what is already happening to share it.

Be willing to experiment!  This is a great way to reach people.  You can always also have people “in the room” – this adds more viewers.  What have you learned in your experiments with Facebook live?

Facebook live tips and tricks

Quaker Exploration and DIscourse – a year of Quaker discussions in New York Yearly Meeting, broadcast on Facebook live.  Simple and effective!

 

 

 

 

 

Creating a digital invitation for Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions

Creating a digital invitation for Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions

As my work for the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, I serve as administrator of our social media accounts, and create lots of graphics and video for many of those posts.   One of our big events is our Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions – held in August in Castleton Vermont.  We may have up to 700 Friends there – and being sure to invite everyone to this community, and keep all informed of some of the discernment there is important.  In doing this work, it seems my model of planning and engagement might apply in part of any local event you might host for your quarterly meeting or local meeting.  Here’s some things we are learning, and some tools I’m finding helpful!

The message

Consistent messaging at the start is very important.  Our Sessions committee discerns a theme for our gathering – and we announce that early in the year, and keep coming back to it.  This year it is “in fear and trembling be bold in God’s service. Even before we had many other details of the gathering, we could note this theme, in relation to the faithful work of Friends in New England in many places.

The communications plan

This can be fairly simple – in our case, it includes a timeline of important dates for release of information. We announced, starting in January, our theme, our invited speakers, and our bible half hour speaker.  We then released a draft schedule, an invitation for workshop proposals, and a formal invitation to Annual sessions via postal mail and online.  Each one of these items was highlighted in our monthly newsletter, and posted to our website.  Twice a week or so I posted a news item about Sessions to our social media feeds, to raise awareness.  It’s an annual event, so many folks were expecting this news.  It’s always good to remember however that part of your audience is NEW and therefore you need to write for them as well!  Most of our main communications center around the date of June 1 – when online registration officially opened.  Also we decided on one hashtag – now added to all our posts.

Platforms for engagement (and how we are using them)

Website:  All our news items, and Annual Sessions information are on their own page, on a tab that can be updated.  As we add more news, we will bump it to our main page.  During Sessions we will post daily updates, workshop locations, recordings.

Email Newsletter:

We release this every month – and there is a balance between sharing news of Annual Sessions, one important part of our Quaker lives together – and highlighting other ministries as well.  Our newsletter can link to more information (on the website) so we can choose how much to share, and how much Friends might want to go to our website for.

Facebook:

A year of experiments!  We have ONE Facebook page for New England Yearly Meeting.  We chose to not create a separate event page for Annual Sessions.  We have 5000 Quakers in New England, not a huge amount on Facebook, and less that folks might follow a separate Annual Sessions page.  This event, remember, is not generally public.  We would expect all Quakers in New England to follow both – and posting news in one place and not another might get confusing.  Know your audience!  Britain Yearly Meeting has two pages.  They are significantly larger, with a more well established Facebook presence.

I created a Facebook event for this gathering back in October.  We knew the dates, and there was no reason to wait for those folks who might see it and click on it.  As each major announcement about Sessions was published, I would add it to the events page “speakers announced”, “here’s our theme” etc.  I’d also highlight some of those on our main Facebook page.  We chose (after registration opened) to boost this event, not just a post about sessions.  That encourages folks to click “interested” – and then it will automatically remind them to register, to tell us they are going… we also can post updates and exciting news about sessions to the event – not to our general page.  Remember, if we are posting 3-5 items per day to our main page, we do not want them all to be about an event that not everyone attends!  Our page represents our entire community.  Large news highlights (one a day) about Annual Sessions are on the main page, and in the event we schedule a daily post with more in-depth bios and news about the event specifically.

A new experiment this year – we created a closed facebook group for attenders. We encourage folks to join the group, to share their own news and stories about Annual Sessions.  This is for the “super fans” of Annual Sessions – it gives folks a chance to chat with a specific audience, and does not swamp our man page discussions.  I moderate this group, and will make sure to keep the conversations on subject.  Any longer concerns or discussions I will take to YM folks for discernment and addressing of concerns.  This group is NOT a place for deep discussion (there are other places for that).  Once we arrive at Sessions, we hope this will be a place to share immediate news, photos from attenders, and meet-ups and information.

Instagram:

Our practice is one post a day.  We have increased to two on high traffic days, with one being a Sessions promo.  We do not currently use this platform very much (it is newer for us) so we are still building and audience.  We therefore are making more general posts, and Sessions posts are ones that might appeal to the widest audience of New England Quakers. We are balancing posts of current witness and actions in New England (there are many right now) and reposts from Friends Camp – another ministry of our Yearly Meeting that uses Instagram much more than Facebook.

Twitter:

We repost most news and events about Sessions.  When we get on campus, this platform will be most useful to communicate with other followers.  We made sure to choose a unique hashtag for this reason!  Many of our local New England Friends are currently not on twitter – so those posts are often reshares of wider Quaker news, and Sessions news and updates as it relates to the wider Quaker world.

What are we posting?

This year, in my new role as NEYM Social Media manager, I am much freer to experiment.  I’m learning from others!  Here’s some examples of types of posts I’ve created with Canva to support this gathering.

  • Register now!  You are welcome here!
  • Read your Advance documents!  Humor and fun memes are great for this.
  • What do you like best about Annual Sessions?
  • Meet our speakers!
  • Minutes coming to Sessions Meeting for Business
  • Traveling to/from and what you will find on campus to help you (rideshare, family neighborhood)

And of course, following the best practices for these posts, that relate to timing and specific needs for each platform, is important.

Some items of importance:

  • the hashtag #NEYM2018
  • Same posts of various sizes/shapes for FB or Instagram
  • Our logo on each post
  • Pictures of various parts of our community – young, old, various races and gender identities.
  • People!  Some old dead quakers for humor – but living Quakers from past years – allowing us to imagine ourselves as attenders.

Along with the graphic posts created in Canva, we are experimenting with a few more tools now.

I’m using Animoto to create brief films. Remember – video is a very popular tool for social media!  I can share those videos to a page on FB without a watermark – and the paid version allows me enough flexibility to share and post from my phone.  Having a bank of recent pictures is really helpful – and I hope to create little one minute “mini films” while at the gathering!  Animoto also allows me to download the films to youtube – on our NEYM youtube page we have created a folder for all of the promos.  Sharing from youtube is also helpful if you can’t share directly from Animoto.

 

Yes, it took me awhile to create all these images first in Canva – but now I can use them in many films and posts.  I have them all in one folder in Canva.

Here’s a more simple fun video!

Most of these communications are still one-way advertising.  We hope to learn this year how to engage in more conversations with Friends on these platforms.  While at Sessions, I’ll be serving as a technology resource for folks, and hope to encourage a digital team of social media publishers.

What have you found helpful in connecting with your audience?  How might you use these tools for your meeting?

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Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice – the spread of social media and telling the story to others (Part Two)

Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice – the spread of social media and telling the story to others (Part Two)

A few weeks ago, Britain Yearly Meeting was intending to meet for their Yearly Meeting discernment.  A big item of business was their consideration of revising their Faith and Practice (book of Discipline).  If they were clear, Friends might be led to start a long revision process.  There a long process and invitation leading up to the discernment scheduled to happen at Yearly Meeting.

In the time leading up to the gathering, a number of media outlets picked up the story.  Headlines read “Quakers to get rid of God!” and used other attention-grabbing statements.  These news articles were written by non-Quakers, and contained the usual amount of disinformation.  In brief, they implied that all the Quakers would be getting together to make an immediate decision to remove God from their “important rulebook”.  There was even a reference to oatmeal in one tale (you probably expected that)!

Friends seemed to be very clear, and wiling to share in the comments of these posts.  Britain Yearly Meeting issues a press release explaining Quaker process, and what might actually happen.  A few more blog posts on the BYM website also helped clarify the situation with true facts.  It got me thinking though – what if British Friends simply ignored this?  What if they refused to be on the internet, and just said “well we don’t talk about that in those places”.

Who tells our story in this time?  In today’s world of immediate news, and social media, and everyone having a twitter account and an opinion – there’s a lot of misinformation out there.  Some of it might be damaging and outright manipulative.  Some of it might just be misinformed people, who are confusing Quakers (for example) with Amish folks, or Shakers.

This Nantucket Nectars beverage lid refers specifically to the time when Quakers left Nantucket.  They are back!  And we did not die out everywhere.  

I am in a number of Quaker geneaology and history groups on Facebook.  I’m mostly quiet there – I am interested in reading the history stories shared by others.  Every once in awhile though, someone asks a question such as “Does anyone when know when the Quakers officially died out?” Then I chime in.  Gently, simply, I say “Quakers are actually still around!  I am one, and here’s a link to a website where you can learn more!”  This seems like an extreme instance perhaps. But what about a witness in town, or if you are present somewhere and someone asks you about what you do, who you are?  Are you ready to share your story?  Do you do it in your digital presence, in small ways?

Your digital presence is a great way to share your story of faith with others.  It’s a natural outreach tool for newcomers and seekers, but also can be a great way to get to know the faith stories of others in your meeting.  You might be surprised at how many people have ideas about what Quakers are already.  That’s a natural opening for conversation.  I had never heard of Quakers until I took an internet quiz in my mid- thirties.  A friend of mine knew of Quakers from the movies.  Do Friends in your meeting look like the Friends in the video below?  Do you want them to?

Update:  Here’s Friend Martin Kelly’s thoughts on this!

 

 

Here’s a few links to the articles about Quakers that emerged in Britain a few weeks ago.

The Quakers are right.  We don’t need God.  – Simon Jenkins

Quakers to rewrite their rulebook – but are not about to “drop God”

Quakers face once in a generation decision to change guidance on sexuality

Quakers may cut out God in faith update

 

New England Quakers on Instagram

Goodreads