Digital Inequities – April 24, 2020

lights cameraYou may, in your surfing of YouTube or FaceBook, have noticed that different churches have been able to accomplish different varieties of services during this social distancing era.  And you maybe wondering why Word of Grace Fellowship hasn’t had a drive-in service or worship music, etc…  so I thought I’d take a shot at answering a couple of those:

Drive-In Service: In the weeks before Palm Sunday I asked the City of Raytown for permission to do a parking lot service on Palm Sunday and Easter.  I proposed that the congregation would stay in their cars.  We would broadcast to their FM radios and to Facebook Live.  The City of Raytown redirected me to the Jackson County Department of Health.  I left voicemails and sent emails, but they did not respond.  Once upon a time, we used to say that silence gives consent, but given our experience with the county I wanted permission in writing, so the drive-in service was a bust.  The churches closest to us that I am aware of which held drive-in services published that they had received their waivers from their local police stations.  I guess I missed that step.

Music Online:  As I surf other services and see music being played online, my first thought is almost always, “I hope they have the right license!”  I seriously doubt the FCC has enough employees during this pandemic-driven online church era to police it, but I still believe we ought to obey the laws and contracts we agreed to when we bought the music we use. 

Here at Word of Grace and at most churches that want to use music produced in the 20th or 21st centuries, we use a copyright service to assure that the copyright holders get their royalties.  We pay an annual fee that is adjusted according to the size of the congregation for the right to project, play and sing their music.  We use a service called Christian Copyright License International (CCLI).   Up until a week or so ago our license only included songs we played in-house.  Therefore, tapes, CDs, and, lately, streamed services contained preaching only, because we didn’t have the license to record music.

Recently money was donated to upgrade our license.  We are now legal to stream the music portion or our Sunday service.  When we are back in business, if you are watching our service on Facebook Live or YouTube, you can watch the WHOLE service.  (That was the donor’s intent.)  The natural query that arises is what about now during the stay-at-home order?   I don’t know if you picked it up, and I can’t really wrap my head around it, since once something is “streamed” it’s recorded, but we can only live-stream.  We can’t record songs and then upload, which is how we are now doing Sunday messages, because we are all doing these from our own homes or at different times in order to follow the social distancing guidelines.  The only way we can abide by our license agreement and add music to our service is if we all gather on Sunday and stream the service at 9:30.  Frankly, too many of us fall into the susceptible category (me included) for all of us to gather on stage until we are sure it’s safe.  

If you really want to know the ins and outs of this, you can spend some hours on this website: https://us.ccli.com/  or email Pastor Tom.  🙂 

Pray with me this ends soon,

Pastor Scott

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