A woman gazes out of the windows of Catonsville Presbyterian Church

News & Announcements

Recording Worship

January 14, 2021

By Kathy and Keith Glennan

On Saturday mornings, the Glennans get up, dress nicely, grab the video camera bag, and head off to church, arriving at 9 am, about 60 minutes before the time to start recording the Sunday worship. The recording process has changed dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 related closure of the sanctuary, when Sue Krehbiel shared a short prayer service on Facebook live via her iPhone, to the current setup of capturing a full worship service. We now use a computer, microphones, a mixer, two video cameras, and a teleprompter. After experiments with livestreaming the service, we moved to recording on Saturday mornings. This allows for less stress, and the ability to be more flexible about when which segments of the service are recorded. For example, we may record the musical offering first, which allows the soloist to leave before the main part of the service starts. We also have the option of a do-over, if something goes wrong. While there are substantial benefits of recording for delayed viewing, there are also some drawbacks, especially when it comes to stitching the service together. We have to keep track of multiple takes and the desired order of the service. To facilitate this work, we acquired a whiteboard clapper, just like they use on movie sets. On a typical Saturday, we are done recording at 11 am, although certain services do take longer. For most people, the service commitment ends there, but not for Keith, who spends about three hours each week putting the segments together, cutting in prerecorded segments, adjusting the sound, and finally adding in the hymn texts. Once everything is final, he processes the file and then uploads it to Facebook and YouTube, setting the “premiere” time for the next day.

Things are a little different for other services we have captured. Kathy recorded the summer outdoor vesper series on the main video camera. We did not try to air this live; instead, Keith uploaded the video a few hours after those services ended. The most recent prayer service was done on Facebook Live; this requires an entirely dif- ferent mindset, including knowing exactly when we are going live, remembering that we can’t start over if there are any problems. However, the live broadcast means that Keith’s work is done when the service is over.

Over the past eight months, we have been in a continuous improvement mode with the technology, upgrading the computer, buying an additional mixer and microphones, and obtaining a remote-controlled camera. Adding more technology means more people are involved. Initially, Keith did the technology, but after a few weeks he asked Kathy to come and run the video camera. Vickie Lord agreed to manage implementing the teleprompter, which requires uploading the service text and manually scrolling through the display as the text is read.

While we all miss the opportunity to gather and worship together as a congregation, there have been some unexpected benefits. We have been able to welcome current and former members who are normally unable to participate due to health, mobility, or location considerations. Too, we have been blessed with participation and feedback by a number of pastors who have been able to join us who would normally be busy when we gather in person. It’s clear that even after a vaccine is available, CPC members and friends will still want remote access to our services. This is another change that the pandemic has brought which we will need to live into in the months and years ahead. However, once more than 10 people start attending worship again, we will have to make some more adjustments, like not setting up the computer in the center aisle!

It has been a real privilege to serve the congregation in this way during the pandemic, and we are grateful for the support and encouragement that you all have provided as we have collectively navigated these challenges.