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Change from webcast to zoom for sacrament meeting


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I just heard that the church is discontinuing their webcast services (which is how most wards I think have been providing sacrament meeting to those at home) and have requested that wards use zoom for that purpose going forward (unless I've really misunderstood something).

Any ideas why they might make such a change?  It's not doctrinally relevant obviously, I'm just really curious.

I can see stopping webcasts because the church doesn't want wards to offer the choice of staying home any longer (though the timing of that would be a little odd since we aren't through the pandemic yet) but I can't think of a reason that they would move from their service to zoom, which seems to have some real limitations in that setting.

 

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17 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I just heard that the church is discontinuing their webcast services (which is how most wards I think have been providing sacrament meeting to those at home) and have requested that wards use zoom for that purpose going forward (unless I've really misunderstood something).

Any ideas why they might make such a change?  It's not doctrinally relevant obviously, I'm just really curious.

I can see stopping webcasts because the church doesn't want wards to offer the choice of staying home any longer (though the timing of that would be a little odd since we aren't through the pandemic yet) but I can't think of a reason that they would move from their service to zoom, which seems to have some real limitations in that setting.

 

My ward has been using Zoom for the entire pandemic.  What limitations are you seeing with Zoom versus the webcast service?

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15 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I just heard that the church is discontinuing their webcast services (which is how most wards I think have been providing sacrament meeting to those at home) and have requested that wards use zoom for that purpose going forward (unless I've really misunderstood something).

Any ideas why they might make such a change?  It's not doctrinally relevant obviously, I'm just really curious.

I can see stopping webcasts because the church doesn't want wards to offer the choice of staying home any longer (though the timing of that would be a little odd since we aren't through the pandemic yet) but I can't think of a reason that they would move from their service to zoom, which seems to have some real limitations in that setting.

Perhaps logistics and expense.  Why spend the Church's money maintaining a proprietary webcast capacity when a free and widely-used technology like Zoom can do the same?

This would not be unprecedented.  The Church has previously dispensed with educational institutions, hospitals, recreational facilities, etc.  These were useful and helpful to the members of the Church in their time, but as society progressed and alternative means of accessing such things became available, the Church eliminated or reduced its functions in these areas.  

See here:

Quote

In 1963 the Church owned or administered fifteen hospitals in the intermountain area under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric. In 1970 the Health Services Corporation of the Church was organized and a commissioner of health was appointed to oversee the rapidly expanding health needs of the Church and to unite the fifteen hospitals into a coordinated health care system. This system demanded increasing amounts of administrative time and financial commitment by the Church.

In 1974 the First Presidency announced that the Church's fifteen hospitals would be donated and turned over to a new nonprofit organization so that the Church could devote "the full effort of [its] Health Services…to the health needs of the worldwide Church." While noting that the hospitals were "a vigorous and financially viable enterprise," the First Presidency emphasized that "the operation of hospitals is not central to the mission of the Church." The First Presidency further indicated that with the expansion of the Church in many nations it was "difficult to justify the provision of curative services in a single, affluent, geographical locality" (news release, Sept. 6, 1974).

On April 1, 1975, the Presiding Bishopric signed the final divestiture agreement transferring ownership and management of LDS Hospital, Primary Children's Hospital, and thirteen other facilities to the new philanthropic organization. This nonprofit organization was named Intermountain Health Care. It is directed by a geographically and religiously diverse board of trustees. With the divestiture of the hospitals, the Church rapidly expanded its medical missionary program-a program more compatible with its worldwide religious mission.

The Church has also shut down quite a few of its schools or allowed them to be turned into state-run schools:

Preparatoria Benemérito de las Américas (Mexico City) and Church College of New Zealand (1958–2009) have been shut down.  

As I understand it, the general concept as to these things (schools and hospitals) are that the Church doesn't want to "re-invent the wheel," or maintain educational and medical facilities where they are available from society at large.  Divesting itself of these things allows the Church a lot more flexibility to provide services worldwide.  Instead of building a hospital (in a fixed location, with fixed population to be served, etc.), the Church can support and coordinate with reputable NGOs and other organizations who already have infrastructure in a given location.

So perhaps the Church is disposing of webcasts in favor of Zoom because Zoom invented that wheel first.

Thanks,

-Smac

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22 hours ago, bluebell said:

I just heard that the church is discontinuing their webcast services (which is how most wards I think have been providing sacrament meeting to those at home) and have requested that wards use zoom for that purpose going forward (unless I've really misunderstood something).

That is correct. An email went out just yesterday with the announcement.

 

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Any ideas why they might make such a change?  It's not doctrinally relevant obviously, I'm just really curious.

I think it's just a pragmatism thing. We appear to be on the downward tail of Delta, so the need for the church to continue making webcast services widely available is something we can anticipate coming to an end.

The webcast system is scheduled to be disabled in July 2022. Should things change between now and then they can always adjust, but the plan is for the service to be sunset in the not too distant future.

 

Quote

I can see stopping webcasts because the church doesn't want wards to offer the choice of staying home any longer (though the timing of that would be a little odd since we aren't through the pandemic yet) but I can't think of a reason that they would move from their service to zoom, which seems to have some real limitations in that setting.

Zoom is actually pretty good for straight broadcasting. I know some larger wards ran into issues with things like Stake Conference broadcasts where they were running up against their 500 connection limit, but that shouldn't be a problem going forward as the number of people who need to access the stream ought to dwindle over time.

 

Edited by Amulek
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The wards in my stake have only used zoom.  Used it for sacrament meetings,  Sunday school,  relief society,  primary and stake conference.   We've had testament meetings over it and were interactive in the other meetings,   generally worked well.  Now used just to broadcast sacrament meetings. Didn't know there was Web casting - possibly only in the USA.   I think zoom will suffice for existing purposes. 

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On 10/7/2021 at 9:55 AM, smac97 said:

......................

So perhaps the Church is disposing of webcasts in favor of Zoom because Zoom invented that wheel first..............

According to the SLTrib, the Church has now purchased Zoom.  https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/05/20/lds-church-sells-exxon/

EDIT:  It has been pointed out to me that the Church invested in Zoom, not buying the company.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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There are advantages to using the paid Zoom Webinar account (not to be confused with regular Zoom) for Sacrament meetings.  Webinars don't allow participants to use their microphones or cameras unless you explicitly allow them.  So you don't have to worry about telling people to turn off their microphones or to put some pants on.   One big advantage is after the Zoom broadcast ends you can sign into your account and see the list of everyone who logged in for the meeting along with their email address and how long they were connected.  Those numbers can be used to calculate Sacrament meeting attendance.

Last Dec the church offered wards a Zoom Webinar account that allowed 2 simultaneous meetings with the option to set up breakout rooms so you could actually have multiple classes using the same link.  Not sure if every ward was given the option.  But it saved the wards the $40/month a Zoom Webinar account cost at the time.  I wonder how much the church has spent on Zoom licenses so far.  I'm sure they got a good deal.

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2 hours ago, sheilauk said:

Didn't know there was Web casting - possibly only in the USA.

We use it here. We used it for stake conference, and my ward uses it for sacrament meeting. The other wards use Zoom. I like the Church's webcasting. The meeting is recorded and available on the website to watch at any point over the next week. Elders quorum classes use Zoom to allow for participation.

2 hours ago, Amulek said:

The webcast system is scheduled to be disabled in July 2022. Should things change between now and then they can always adjust, but the plan is for the service to be sunset in the not too distant future.

Not imminent then. Sounds fine to me. Hopefully we'll all be back to in-person services by then!

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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4 hours ago, gopher said:

There are advantages to using the paid Zoom Webinar account (not to be confused with regular Zoom) for Sacrament meetings.  Webinars don't allow participants to use their microphones or cameras unless you explicitly allow them.  So you don't have to worry about telling people to turn off their microphones or to put some pants on.   One big advantage is after the Zoom broadcast ends you can sign into your account and see the list of everyone who logged in for the meeting along with their email address and how long they were connected.  Those numbers can be used to calculate Sacrament meeting attendance.

The Zoom Webinar option is exactly how our ward does our sacrament meetings.  The Webinar allows the presenter to be controlled by a moderator, and on Fast and Testimony meeting Sundays, this allowed for people at home to "raise their hand" and get in a queue to bear their testimony in the meeting and it could be heard and (optionally) projected in the chapel.  We also had one person give a sacrament meeting talk from home that was also shown in the chapel.  And we always use it to count the people attending the meeting remotely.

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Our whole stake livestreams on YouTube for sacrament meeting and does Zoom for classes.

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The interesting thing to me is that for some time we’ve been hearing rumors, purportedly originating from Well Placed People, that the Church is speedily working to duplicate various forms of infrastructure so that it can continue its operations even in the face of a hostile society that might to some degree deny the Church and/or its members access to otherwise-common forms of communication, transportation, commerce, etc.  

The Church discontinuing its in-house webcast capabilities suggests that either these rumors are untrue, or that the Church has made a strategic decision that it won’t be able to maintain a meaningful internet presence in a doodoo-hits-the-fan scenario—that a world in which it can’t access Zoom is a world in which it can’t count on being able to use the internet at all.

Edited by mgy401
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On 10/8/2021 at 12:59 AM, InCognitus said:

The Zoom Webinar option is exactly how our ward does our sacrament meetings.  The Webinar allows the presenter to be controlled by a moderator, and on Fast and Testimony meeting Sundays, this allowed for people at home to "raise their hand" and get in a queue to bear their testimony in the meeting and it could be heard and (optionally) projected in the chapel.  We also had one person give a sacrament meeting talk from home that was also shown in the chapel.  And we always use it to count the people attending the meeting remotely.

It's worked well for us too, even though most members attend in-person so only a few view remotely now.  We had a problem with broadcasting from the chapel because the sound quality wasn't very good from the laptop microphone.  We plugged in a USB microphone and set it next to the podium microphone which fixed that.  We do have to turn on the Original Sound option during the music otherwise it sounds choppy.  But the video and audio quality of our meetings is impressive with just a laptop, cheap camera and USB microphone.  We did get fancy at one point and added a second camera at the back of the chapel  when only 50 people were allowed per meeting, but we only use the camera in the front now.

I know there was concern that members wouldn't return to church as long as the remote viewing option was available, but we haven't seen that.  We only send the link to people who request it now, but it allows members who are ill, out of town, or called in to work to view the meeting.  Fulltime missionaries assigned to speak often send the link to their parents.  Grandparents living across the country can watch the Primary program or hear grandchildren give talks.  So I think it's been positive so I hope we can continue to broadcast, especially since it takes so little effort to set up.

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In my ward/stake we were told to stop using the church system and start using Zoom nearly six months ago. It necessitated a couple wards (including mine) purchasing new equipment. Last stake conference as well as our upcoming one were done via Zoom. I don't really have a preference for one or the other. Part of the message to the stake was that the church system costs more to operate. Side note, my ward stopped broadcasting sacrament meeting about 3 months ago despite there being people who choose not to attend because of COVID concerns (and we are currently in a "high transmission" area). 

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7 hours ago, gopher said:

It's worked well for us too, even though most members attend in-person so only a few view remotely now.  We had a problem with broadcasting from the chapel because the sound quality wasn't very good from the laptop microphone.  We plugged in a USB microphone and set it next to the podium microphone which fixed that.  We do have to turn on the Original Sound option during the music otherwise it sounds choppy.  But the video and audio quality of our meetings is impressive with just a laptop, cheap camera and USB microphone.  We did get fancy at one point and added a second camera at the back of the chapel  when only 50 people were allowed per meeting, but we only use the camera in the front now.

We also have our sound directly routed in from the podium microphone, and the sound quality is excellent.  And we have two cameras as well, one on the person speaking, and the other one high and behind the choir seats pointing toward the congregation.  We flip the camera to the congregation view during the opening and closing hymns and if there are sustainings and releases. 

We have a few home bound families that still view from home, and a few others that request a temporary link from the bishop when they are sick.  So it's not available to everyone unless specifically requested and approved by the bishop.

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