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Walking Out the Church Door into the Wider World
  By the Rev. Allen Aicken, retired Presbyterian minister in Vancouver, B.C.
People in the church are understand- ably concerned about the future. While we probably have a future, we can’t yet see it. It’s not only we who are shifting sands, but so too is eve- rything in the world in which we live and work. For what are church and world yearning?
We all have many prayers, of course, but there is one that many of us express daily, while others can lose sight of it because it doesn’t touch them directly—some peo- ple and families don’t have enough money to live on. Poverty and the cluster of pain that clings to it affect too many.
The most basic level of our needs is subsistence: a roof over our heads, food to eat, inclusion within our com-
munity, and at least a modest dose of Sabbath, whereby people can take time off from work to enjoy leisure and relationships with each other. We all need at least this much. Could we deny it to the lowest economic ech- elons of society?
The idea of a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) was proposed for
Canada and enacted for a three-year period in some Manitoba communi- ties in the mid-1970s. It was also very briefly tried in some Ontario regions five years ago. There was much to be learned from it that no one had predicted. Before the full implications of either experiment could be evaluated, they were ter-
minated. Meanwhile, the mainline churches have been advocating a GLI for the past 50 years.
And now, the GLI is being bandied about again. The world is changing. Employment Insurance that once fit the world in which it was established no longer meets the needs. The idea of a “steady job” has segued into contract work, which normally pays about 30% less and comes without income security. We’re into another Industrial Revolution, where constant retraining is needed to maintain em- ployability. On top of all this, along came the pandemic.
The Ontario experiment provided $17,000 a year for people living alone; $24,000 a year for two people living together. The long-ago Mani- toba experiment, Mincome, provided a little more than $22,000 a year (ac- counting for inflation) for a family of four. The aim of a GLI is to provide
enough for a modest but dignified level of living. Whatever a prospec- tive Canadian GLI might provide has yet to be decided. Politicians, being who they are, make that call—we may expect some to press it higher, and some to press it lower. Perhaps Christians can stand back a little and let the wider world decide the amount. Our role is to be the lowly “salt of the earth.” We followers press for Jesus’ vision of “the Kingdom of God” (or “Community of God” in 21st century language), while fellow citizens de- cide how it happens.
Past experiments show that a GLI does not reduce the number of peo- ple working for a living, as instinct suggests. When it comes to the cost for each one of us, the journalist An- drew Coyne said this: “Three [per- centage] points on the GST, to end poverty? Guaranteed Income sounds like a good deal” (National Post, April 18, 2018).
Assuming the math is right, and a GST of 8% could decimate poverty, would that be a good deal for you?
Read the church’s letter to the Prime Minister calling for guar- anteed liveable (basic) income at
 So You Want to Live Stream Your Worship Service?
  By Wayne Sankarlal, University Community Church in Windsor, Ont. Wayne currently provides IT and website consulting and tech advisory services through his company, IT4Worship, where web, tech and worship meet.
So you want to live stream your con- gregation’s worship service? Want to know what the most important component is for a successful live stream, even more important than the technology?
Wait for it...
Curious volunteers.
That can’t be right, can it?
Yes, it is, absolutely.
The. Most. Important. Live-streaming volunteers don’t
need experience with using technolo- gy; they don’t need to be comfortable with software; they don’t even need to own a computer. What they do need is a desire to learn, to ask ques- tions and to be persistent—that’s it.
I’ll give you an example. A cli- ent of mine is a small rural church in southwestern Ontario. I set up a Zoom live-streaming system for the congregation, complete with a new camera, a new PC, monitor and all the various and sundry cables need- ed to connect everything with their existing sound system. Once we had all the components together, it took about 10 hours of setup and onsite configuration to work out the issues that arose.
(As an aside, there will always be issues. It just comes with the terri- tory of blending new technologies with old technologies. None of the issues are insurmountable, but they may take some time to work through to a usable solution, depending on
the age of the old technology com- ponents.)
After setting it all up came the training phase. I spent about three hours going through how the sys- tem worked, devoting two of those three hours to hands-on practice. We set up the system, tore it down, set it up again, connected the audio to the camera, the camera to the PC, and the PC to the Internet. We opened Zoom and connected it to the church’s YouTube channel, so that the live stream would happen auto- matically. Then we repeated this four or five more times with everyone tak- ing part.
During this time, I was peppered with questions: How does this work? Does it matter what order I start the programs in? Should the sound system be on before I start the com- puter? Why does it matter? How do I know the camera is working? How do I know the camera is picking up sound from the sound system? What do I do if I don’t see the sound bars moving? Do we turn each piece of equipment off or can we turn off eve-
rything at the same time by switching the power bar off?
These and many, many more questions came my way, and I was blissfully happy. Why? Because these folks on the upper side of their 60s, and one into her 70s, wanted to know everything they possibly could. They were initially reticent and a lit- tle intimidated by the computer, but somewhere along the way, they saw it for what it was—just a tool to get something done. They had let their natural curiosity take over, and it was a joy to behold.
The other thing their curiosity told me was that this would not be a pro- ject that died on the vine after it was implemented. And that was cement-
ed in my mind after I watched the third sermon that they live streamed. Instead of a single camera view of the pulpit alone, the camera started to pan across the congregation. A few services later, a zoom in and out feature was added to the camera shots. Somewhere in between, audio control was implemented by this new AV team. Watching (literally) the evo- lution of this team of previous-gener- ation volunteers use next-generation technology was something to behold and continues to be.
And that’s why I say that, putting technology aside, curious volunteers are the critical resources a church needs if it wants to step into live streaming its services.

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