I was the Process Architect for TechWomen 2010-2011 and have been a TechWomen mentor and part of eleven international delegations since 2011. TechWomen is an exchange program of the US Department of State – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This life changing program is very dear to me and I am looking forward to helping the 2020 Team Sierra Leone develop a project that will help their community.
Tools I mentioned on today’s training call, for teams working at a distance: Google Groups – email distribution and archive, WhatsApp – quick messages and meeting reminders, Facebook – personal updates and contacts, LinkedIn – professional updates and contacts, Skype or Zoom – to communicate verbally, Google Drive – to share and communicate in writing. Send a WhatsApp message to the whole team 2 hours in advance of a team meeting so they don’t have to remember US time zones, Daylight Savings, etc. Mentors have to keep up with country events by reading BBC News, Al Jazeera, New York Times.
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Education for Ministry is holding an online training this week for its mentors, trainers, and other seminar leaders, many of whom are starting their annual terms this month. We have over 165 already signed up!
Cynthia C. Hargis, Diocesan Relations and EfM Online Coordinator, University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry, asked Cheri Winter (EfM Coordinator and Mentor, Diocese of Colorado), and me (EfM Coordinator and Mentor, Diocese of El Camino Real) to give this session on how to use Zoom for EfM seminars. Our training materials are linked here, both for those who will attend the session and for others who may find them helpful:
Since 2014, my husband John Plocher has been running the Video Ministry for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, CA. What started out needing a few hours a week using spare equipment has grown vastly since the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives this year. John now routinely spends 12 or more hours a week creating and editing videos of music and worship services using sophisticated software and hardware. (Some of which were paid for by a 2018 St. Andrew’s Opportunity Fund grant.) John has been mentoring Youth Group members for over a year to develop their technical skills and extend the Video Ministry. In the hope that recruiting and training even more helpers will reduce his own load, John has written these process documents.
John has developed a chat and video best practices exchange group – contact me if you want to join. He publishes stand-alone videos of the classical and folk service music on Saint Andrew’s Sings. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. Or, hear the music as part of the weekly worship service videos. (More in my blog post New Music for Quarantine Times.)
I have been helping John by reviewing videos during development, finding memes for the end, and providing photos for preludes and postludes:
We read Kahf’s poem “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet…” every term in the weekly classes I lead in Santa Clara County jail. It is one of the most popular selections in our Transforming Literature of the Bible course at Elmwood Jail. We read the poem to complement the story of Joseph in Egypt, as part of a discussion on being a bridge between cultures (Genesis 37-50). Volunteer jail chaplains are locked out now because of the Covid-19 quarantine but I look forward to returning. I miss my students!
In Hagar Poems, I found this one which seems very appropriate for the conversations our country is having now:
by Mohja Kahf
Warning: God has slipped the noose.
We must confirm the worst
of our righteous fears –
God has escaped the mosque,
the synagogue, the church
where we’ve locked up God for years.
God is on the loose.
You may find God in heathen beauty.
You may stumble upon God unaware.
Take appropriate measures:
You may have to behave
as if each human being
could reflect God’s face.
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My husband John Plocher is not musical but during the COVID-19 quarantine, he has been helping others to sing. John has been recording and broadcasting our regular church services from the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church choir loft for years (with backup from the talented teens of the Youth Group whom he has been mentoring). During the quarantine, John used the skills and equipment he had put together to help St. Andrew’s clergy shift into a weekly service online. Music has always been a huge part of our parish community life, so John has created online music with choir directors Leroy Kromm, and David Howard-Pitney, and the inspiring parish symphony and folk choirs, singers, and instrumentalists.
John recently published a new website: Saint Andrew’s Sings– where the classical and folk music videos are posted each week. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. (I am very proud of John – can you tell?)
“St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Saratoga, CA has a strong musical tradition that continues even as we isolate ourselves during these Inside Times. This is a collection of instrumental and choral works, folk music, meditations and solo performances – all recorded “solo” during the corona virus quarantine and produced virtually, for your enjoyment and the glory of God.”
Other choirs and singers around the world have also been creating new music for quarantine times. Some of those I have enjoyed: