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By Rev. Marty Levesque

When is the time to turn off your livestream?

This is a question I have asked myself many times recently. Livestreaming of worship services was a response to our buildings being closed during the pandemic. Many of us have continued our livestreams in a new hybrid format (livestream and in-person simultaneously) long past re-opening until today.

Livestreaming puts many constraints on worship. The presider must always be conscious of the camera angle. For instance, did I just walk out of the camera shot? Is my microphone on? Is it off during congregational singing so as not to overpower the stream with just my voice?

Livestreaming offers yet another layer of complexity to our services. And if I am being honest, it requires so many considerations that draw me out of a prayerful focus to stage direction. And its negative spiritual effect spills over to the congregation.

This fractures the body of Christ in some pretty significant ways. Enjoying our coffee while watching church sounds lovely, but it means we do not see our fellow parishioners as often or at all. Relationships suffer and we fail to notice the person a pew or two over who may be having a difficult time and really could use a hug or a prayer from a friend.

Part of what makes church a church is the gathering of the community, that where two or three are gathered Christ is in our midst. But more so, it allows us to be attentive to each other and our needs as a church family. And families need to gather together.

So, when is the time to turn off your livestream?

I am not sure. But more and more, I question whether the hybrid formula should stay long-term. Or perhaps we need a conversation on a diocesan level where we have specified livestream sites, such as the Cathedral Church of St Paul's that provides livestreaming services to shut-ins throughout the diocese.

 Rev. Marty Levesque is the rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo. He served as diocesan social media officer.