I’ll let you in on a secret from deep in the archives of St. Paul’s - live streaming actually started in the fall semester of 2018, long before we had even heard of COVID-19. A group of talented university students from ECU, with the church’s blessing, created the “Live Stream Worship Service Project”, an attempt to bring 360⁰ streaming from our church to Facebook. The creative team accomplished their goal with some very basic equipment and left behind detailed documentation, but the project languished until we all learned the meaning of “pandemic”. A few of us were experimenting with the camera and laptop we now owned and had subscribed to a “content delivery network”, a church-affiliated start-up in Ohio. Our earliest efforts were not publicly distributed and it was obvious we would need more investment and a lot of trial and error to make it all work. But with services unexpectedly suspended we knew we would need to push forward—Father Andrew actually streamed our first internet service, Hymns on Fourth, on March 18, 2020, using his iPad and a music stand, and St. Paul’s had entered the world of live broadcasting.
Jerry Tester, whose former company had installed our sound system, volunteered to join our efforts and our sound quality was now something to enjoy and share with others. We were off and running. With donations and vestry-allocated funds, we have upgraded to broadcast-quality cameras and much-needed peripheral equipment.
Since spring of 2020 we have produced 323 broadcasts, including regular services, Wednesday Hymns on Fourth, Fisk organ concerts, weddings and funerals. We’ve had over 34,000 “views” (many duplicates, of course) from 35 countries and virtually every US state. Our biggest audience was the 2020 Christmas Homes tour, with 979 viewers. Our largest viewership for a church service was Palm Sunday, 2020, at 736.
Of course, numbers are not our only goal. We try very hard to make viewing at home as close as possible to being in our beautiful worship space on Sunday morning. It can be challenging at times, but it is truly a rewarding ministry for us, and we welcome anyone who would like to join us. We plan to offer orientation sessions this fall and you do not need experience, just a willingness to learn. Courtney Buckner, Live Streaming Coordinator, will be organizing these and more information will follow.
- Ron Kemp