two Sundays a month gave the worship team a break from
preparing weekly services and satisfied the congregation’s
desire to have an occasional service developed by an ordained
minister. “Video conferencing brings a minister right into our
church,” says board chair Earle Freeborn.
To finance the equipment, the treasurer, Derek Hopkins,
led an appeal to our congregational members in and out of
town. The congregation also received a $1,500 grant from
The United Church of Canada.
We purchased a video conferencing unit, projector, screen,
microphones, and sound board. Installation was completed
in January 2015. The total cost was $7,000. As no local technicians were available to set up the equipment, technicians
had to travel 650 kilometres from Thunder Bay to install the
equipment and teach us how to run it.
Last February, we had our first joint worship service via
video conferencing. We continue to have one to two interactive services each month, at a cost of $125 per service. Minor
glitches in video quality were resolved when we increased
our Internet speed.
“Deciding to join the Trinity Thunder Bay video conferencing worship hub on a part-time basis has been a good decision for us in Chapleau,” says Lindquist. “Joining with other
small and large congregations for worship has been a great
way to remind ourselves that even though we are a relatively
remote, small congregation, we really are part of and connected with The United Church of Canada.”
Sheila Hunter is a member of the Worship Team at Trinity
United Church, Chapleau, Ontario. trinitychapleau@
One or two Sundays a month, Trinity United Church in Chapleau, Ontario, joins three other United Churches for interactive worship, thanks
to video-conference technology.
We are often asked if this kind of worship is like
watching TV. However, under the overall leadership
of the Rev. Randy Boyd from Trinity United Church in
Thunder Bay, Ontario, each congregation leads part of
the worship service, with the other congregations listening, singing, and responding as if we were one large
congregation worshipping together in one place.
The other churches involved are Pinegrove United
Church in Rosslyn, Ontario, Current River United Church
in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Grace United Church in
Nipigon, Ontario. The quality of the joint worship services
is superb. “I’m looking forward to when we can lead in the
music portions of service,” says Wilma Schmidt, organist at
The video worship began in 2014 when Trinity Chapleau
found itself in an extremely challenging financial situation due to shrinking income and an aging and declining
membership. The church board invited the Rev. Catherine
Sommerville, who at the time was Manitou Conference
Personnel Minister, to hold a series of workshops with members to help the congregation find a solution.
“We were in an intense time of change with difficult decisions to make,” recalls Susan Lindquist, congregational lay
representative to Spirit Dancing Presbytery. “Yet it was clear
that there was a strong desire among members to remain an
identifiable congregation of The United Church of Canada.”
The congregation eventually decided to sell the manse,
forgo part-time paid ministry, and continue to operate out
of the church with lay leadership. But our small lay worship
team felt they would be stretched to cover worship services
year round. The Rev. Sommerville suggested worshipping
with Trinity Thunder Bay via video conferencing.
Connecting with the Thunder Bay worship hub for up to
TRINITY UNITED CHURCH
• Location: a rural, semi-remote small commu-
nity in northeastern Ontario
• 60 members
• Watch live at trinityunited.church
Randy Boyd, minister at Trinity Thunder Bay.
Worship Via Video by Sheila Hunter
Technology helps a semi-
remote church sustain