Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
tonyhowell
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Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby tonyhowell » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:39 am

Hi Brethren, Sisters, With the advent of the CoVid-19 virus in our area, the stake president is looking into having each unit broadcast a Sacrament Meeting to its members. However, the Webcast tool does not have Sacrament as one of the approved meeting types. Does anyone else have this issue & what are the guidelines? Looking into getting the Vidiu encoder and camera for each building, but need a way to stream from each building.
Thanks,
Tony Howell
Grand Blanc Michigan Stake Technology Specialist

russellhltn
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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby russellhltn » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:40 am

tonyhowell wrote:Looking into getting the Vidiu encoder and camera for each building

Note that the Vidiu encoder runs $560.00 USD in the store. Add a camera and various equipment and you're probably talking >$800 per building.


tonyhowell wrote:the Webcast tool does not have Sacrament as one of the approved meeting types.

General Handbook 35.4.15:
Meetings and other events that are held in the chapel may not be broadcast over the internet or by any other means (see 29.3.1 and 29.6.4 for exceptions).

The exceptions are stake conference and allowing a missionary to see a funeral of a family member.

Even if webcasting the meeting were allowed, I'm not aware of any doctrinal basis for tele-ordnance of the sacrament. As close as I can see to that is General Handbook 18.9.1.
If members of his ward are unable to partake of the sacrament because they are confined to a home, care center, or hospital, the bishop may authorize priesthood holders to administer the sacrament to them.


Webcasting other meetings from other parts of the building would be a possibility, however, teaching a lesson without audience participation could be interesting. Perhaps the audience can text their questions and comments in.

I would suggest your stake president check with the area authority for guidance.
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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby lajackson » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:50 am

tonyhowell wrote:Does anyone else have this issue & what are the guidelines?

The guidelines are at General Handbook 35.4.15 and the two exceptions do not include sacrament meeting.

Considering that the current circumstance is probably temporary (even though it will last a number of months), I would not think that buying an encoder and camera for each building would be a worthwhile investment.

Technically, if you can get the audio and video into the encoder, all you need then is an Ethernet connection. The webcast portal used to have an Other option. I do not recall the current selections. And you usually need more than just an encoder to assemble the audio and visual inputs into a webcast.

The Church used to have a series of sacrament meetings online. I wonder if they are still available. BYUtv has a number of gospel discussion programs available on demand.

The stake president may wish to share a message to the members from the stake center, which is already webcast capable, on one of these Sunday mornings at a predetermined time.

Members could study the gospel at home and those with appropriate priesthood authority could be authorized to administer the sacrament to their families.

Saints, Chapter 17, tells of a time in 1856-57 when members did not regularly partake of the sacrament.

Things turned out okay then, and they will again today.

Personally, I would await additional counsel from church leaders before instituting a regular webcast of sacrament meetings. We may get additional instructions at general conference in a few weeks, and certainly before then if needed.

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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby sbradshaw » Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:37 am

lajackson wrote:Members could study the gospel at home and those with appropriate priesthood authority could be authorized to administer the sacrament to their families. ... We may get additional instructions at general conference in a few weeks, and certainly before then if needed.

Home centered, church supported.
Samuel Bradshaw • If you desire to serve God, you are called to the work.

tonyhowell
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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby tonyhowell » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:10 am

Another reference on Webcasting : https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/hel ... s?lang=eng
Last Updated: 2 July 2019 at 11:39

Meetinghouse webcasts should be managed under the direction of stake and area presidents. Meetinghouse webcasts should only be used for Church-sponsored meetings or events. Review the sections below for more information on roles, responsibilities, cost ownership, and usage.

Official Church Communication
General directions regarding the use of cameras, recordings, and technology in chapels can be found in Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 18.3.1; 21.2.10.

Roles and Responsibilities
Many people may be involved in supporting a successful webcast. The table below lists the roles and responsibilities of some of the key people involved. There may be some shifting of responsibilities based on local situations.

ROLE RESPONSIBILITY
Stake or Area President
Approves use of meetinghouse webcast for the stake (U.S. and Canada) or area (outside the U.S. and Canada).
Provides approval and budget for the purchase of meetinghouse webcast components.
Ensures meetinghouse webcast technologies are used for appropriate purposes according to direction sent out by the Presiding Bishopric’s Office.

Stake President has the keys and directs the work in his stake. Current emergency situations allows for his discretion with interaction with his leaders and the Spirit.
Note: At no time has anyone suggested or desired the ordinance be transmitted. If local government leaders direct no large meetings of over 30 people than other ways to interact should be examined.

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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby jeremywillden » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:16 am

Note that the policy in 35.4.15 prohibits Photography, Video recording, and broadcasting, but audio recording and streaming are not prohibited (in fact, the church still installs hook-ups specifically designed to allow recording of meetings in the chapel and installs assistive listening transmitters). The assistive listening systems in the building actually do broadcast the audio, which can be heard (with a radio scanner or other receiver) well away from the building, demonstrating clearly that broadcasting is permissible, but the assistive listening receivers are too expensive to distribute to every shut-in (and the signal tends to be weak as you get further from the building).

Our shut-ins have been blessed by hearing the speakers from our wards rather than some pre-recorded "sacrament meetings." It helps them stay connected to the ward, including releases and callings, and hearing the talks from members of the ward. Now that the handbook makes the distinction between "broadcasting" and "streaming," I'm no longer concerned about privately streaming meeting audio to "feed my sheep." Our permanently disabled members not only receive the sacrament from our Aaronic Priesthood holders, but they are spiritually fed by the talks each Sunday, and we don't have to make audio cassette copies and distribute them by hand. With the (temporary) risk of death for some of our older members and those with weakened immune systems, it just makes sense to allow people to avoid becoming infected (or to avoid infecting others if already ill) by listening from home.

Because we use private links to share the streams, what I do couldn't even be construed as broadcasting, but instead is a privately accessible stream or recording.

Please no holy war responses to this message - if you wish to exclude the sick, elderly, and disabled from your meetings, you are welcome to do so, but please don't try to stop me from ministering to those close to me. I appreciate any effort to follow the "letter of the law," but it's important to remember the reason for the meetings: to spiritually feed everyone within the boundaries of our stake.

P.S. If the policy does ever change to allow video streaming of meetings, instead of buying a Vidiu encoder for each building, just use OBS Studio (free and open-source) on a laptop with a webcam and (if desired) feed the audio in through the microphone input. Keep the bitrate below about 2 Mbps or the server will break. Because we have had serious reliability issues with the Church video streaming system in the past, we haven't used it until our most recent conference, and even then, we simulcasted in HD to both the Church system and YouTube with great success. Now that the Church servers are improving in reliability, we may shift back that direction in the future.

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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby russellhltn » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:03 am

jeremywillden wrote:Video recording, and broadcasting, but audio recording and streaming are not prohibited

Valid point.


jeremywillden wrote:The assistive listening systems in the building actually do broadcast the audio, which can be heard (with a radio scanner or other receiver) well away from the building, demonstrating clearly that broadcasting is permissible,

I don't know as I'd consider the 300' range "broadcasting".


jeremywillden wrote:Because we use private links to share the streams, what I do couldn't even be construed as broadcasting,

Something important to keep in mind. Steps should to be taken to keep it within the ward.
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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby russellhltn » Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:27 pm

lajackson wrote:Personally, I would await additional counsel from church leaders before instituting a regular webcast of sacrament meetings. We may get additional instructions at general conference in a few weeks, and certainly before then if needed.

That was a short wait.

All meetings canceled worldwide, including sacrament.

No doubt we'll get further direction as this becomes prolonged.

I'd suggest we inventory and perhaps obtain any small missing pieces needed to carry out whatever may be coming. But otherwise, rest and wait for further direction.

Until then "Independent Home Study" has taken on a new meaning.
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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby jeremywillden » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:13 pm

On the off chance that the directive ends up moving us toward audio streaming to help protect the vulnerable (and allow the ill to remain isolated): Icecast works wonderfully for this purpose. While I set it up on another server I already had access to, I found this article that provides a nice guide for setting up your own. I did the math and with a 64 kbps audio stream, serving 3000 people for 1 hour a week, a 500 GB/mo virtual private server (VPS) only costs about $3.50 per month (I'm not affiliated with this site and haven't fully tested their instructions, but they look good: https://mediarealm.com.au/articles/icec ... tup-guide/ ). Some related links refer to securing the streams with SSL and geoblocking so only a certain geographical area can tune in (be careful with that one so you don't block traveling members).

I have found for best performance to run a local Icecast (darkice) server on a Raspberry Pi (with case and accessories, about $65) with a USB sound input adapter (about $8) and have the server act as an Icecast "relay". The Pi connects to the server through OpenVPN so the entire system is very secure. I use a cron job to auto-start everything so the Icecast server isn't even running except when streaming on Sunday. It's not searchable, it's impossible to find without the link, and with password protection, well...I'd love to tie it into the Church single sign on system, but for now simple password protection (combined with a non-publicized URL that doesn't get indexed by search engines) keeps the stream from being anything like a broadcast.

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Re: Broadcasting Sacrament w/o Ordinance-CoVid-19

Postby rogerseda » Sun Mar 15, 2020 4:29 am

Today, our stake ran a "virtual sacarament meeting" as directed by the the Area Presidency. We used a laptop with a Vidiu Teradek encoder, lined in the sound from the chapel and streamed it to youtube. It worked great.


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