In the Spring of 2019, the Presbytery of Edinburgh carried out its five-year Local Church Review of St Ninian's. From this, a review group appointed by the Kirk Session and Deacons' Court identified five 'Next Steps'. After a successful inaugural ‘Annual Adventure' for teenagers, organised by Alpha, the next working group to mobilise was the 'Technology and Communication Group', or 'TechComms' to use its snappier, abbreviated title.

Its remit was to address the question “As modern communication technologies are used by more and more people, especially young people, how might we use a range of technologies to communicate the Gospel better amongst ourselves, during worship, and to the world around us”.

Little did we know then that the initial focus of the group would  have to be how to use new (at least to most of us) technologies to try and maintain some communication and a sense of church community, while we are all isolated from the physical sanctuary, the halls and of course each other       

Many of you will hopefully be experiencing the fruits of the minister's and other efforts on this front, primarily by delivering online services to your laptop or tablet via YouTube.

While we have had to press the 'Pause' button on delivering on the original intended remit of the TechComm Group, work has progressed on a number of fronts, on what will be a phased and incremental approach towards improving the technology and communications both within and out with the church buildings. We will see what works well in each step before taking it further. 

The first phase includes the replacement of the 'sound mixing desk' in the church, the piece of infrastructure which sits in the box in The Gallery and controls the sound system in the sanctuary. Replacing the current 'analogue' box with a modern 'digital' equivalent is really an 'enabler', which will give us more control and flexibility for how we use technology in the sanctuary.

We will purchase additional microphones, so that for example the congregation can hear both sides of the conversation the minister is having with the youngsters during the children's address. We plan to acquire a new modern projector and screen, which will be able to be used in the sanctuary for 'presentational' items, including text, photos and videos. This will be a huge benefit for example to the Sunday School, for use in their Christmas or End of Session Services, enabling them to integrate these elements into their services a lot more easily and most importantly to significantly improve the 'audience experience' for the congregation.

The same benefits will accrue when this kit is used in any of the church halls for presentations, films and so on, with the additional safety benefit in that the 'short throw' nature of the projector mean it will actually sit on the stage in front of the screen – no cables on the floor to trip over.

Finally (for the moment), we will install a 'Digital Display Screen' in the Crush Hall.

This will be able to be used for anything from a welcome message, to directing visitors to the appropriate hall or room for their event and could effectively replace the cluttered notice board on the west wall.

The key message with all this stuff of course, is not the technology itself, but how we utilise it. As with smart phones, tablets and so on, the opportunities are endless, limited only by our imaginations and our willingness to explore the opportunities – so watch this space, or rather these screens.

Contact: Derek MacGillivray


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