A small team at Sequim Community Church is making a big technological push to serve those at home or surfing the Internet. The Rev. Rick Dietzman, minister of adult discipleship, started video recording the church’s 10 a.m. traditional services in September and producing DVDs for local retirement facilities and homebound people.
Dietzman said the DVDs provide access to hymns and Senior Pastor Scott Koenigsaecker’s messages.
“Making high-tech work for the most traditional crowd is the theme here,” Dietzman said. In January, Prairie Springs Assisted Living began showing the church’s DVDs on Sunday afternoons and the Fifth Avenue Retirement Center shows them on occasion.
Viewers have reached out to Dietzman with gratitude.
“I’m really enjoying being able to watch the service on DVD because I miss not being able to go,” said Lorraine Jensen, a Sherwood Assisted Living resident.
“I went once to church maybe three months ago but now I can see the service every week.”
Dietzman said in 2010 there were several homebound people who couldn’t attend church for months or at all.
“This adds a whole new layer to our homebound ministry,” he said.
Dietzman, who has made moviemaking a hobby for years, didn’t want to stop with DVDs so he researched going online with his team’s efforts.
“I quickly found that you can do a lot these days for just a few dollars a month in (video) hosting costs,” Dietzman said.
“We currently stream our services to web-enabled TVs using the Roku Box (a device for viewing Netflix and Vimeo videos); the videos play on iPhones and Android phones; and just this month we have begun adding computer-generated closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing.”
Their videos get 20-30 web hits a week.
Church member Alan Jones watches the videos as he recovers from surgery because he’s not allowed to sit up long enough to attend church.
“The video on Roku is an immeasurable blessing to me. My thanks to (Dietzman) and the S.C.C. video team. I don’t know how many others at S.C.C. are being helped by this ministry, but we owe much to (the) team,” Jones said.
To add more opportunities for people to connect to the church, Dietzman works with YouTube to caption all of the services for those with hearing problems.
He said the church’s deaf community requested the addition.
“We decided to go for it,” Dietzman said. “I haven’t heard of anybody doing it around here.” Dietzman submits the video for translation, which is available in several languages, and receives it with about 80 percent of the captioning correct.
Volunteers edit the file on Sunday afternoons and the video of the service goes online within hours. Web hits come from all over the world, mostly on Sundays, Dietzman said.
He considered doing high-definition videotaping but the upload and loading take too long. Doing a live stream of the church service was an option, too, but the cost was a few hundred dollars for the stream versus a handful of dollars for online video.
“If we just wait an hour, this is the most economical,” Dietzman said.
Setting up a video team wasn’t difficult, Dietzman said.
He recruited church attendees Judy Larimore, Rich Low and Jon McHugh, who all have a high interest in the video ministry.
“I wasn’t involved in a ministry but then I read about this in a bulletin and thought ‘This is for me,’” Larimore said.
The team spends about 20 minutes preparing before the service and uses two cameras with a switcher to alternate angles to make the videos more interesting.
Services are recorded on DVD, VHS — as a backup — and on a flash drive for quick transfer to the web.
“This is something any church can do,” Dietzman said.
“The great benefit here of using this cutting-edge technology is that now from here on out no one in Sequim Community Church will ever have to miss out on Sunday mornings as they age, even if they end up in a retirement home, move away or get sick.”
He said one of the biggest obstacles to posting services online is that some music is copyrighted. Sequim Community Church’s traditional service uses public domain music so it is free to post online.
For more information on Sequim Community Church video services, contact Rick Dietzman at 683-4194.
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