How to Set Up a Video Studio in Your Basement – A Pastor’s Guide

Over the past few days, I have been working on putting together a makeshift studio that I can use to record videos for the congregation and community. It will also be helpful for the ever-increasing number of video conference calls these days. I want to share with you a bit of the process, in case you find anything that could be useful. I’m going to add links to Amazon, which has been and continues to be my go-to for supplies. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission. Alright, so here we go.

This is our basement.

Basement

It’s great! Functional, fun, and admittedly a bit filled with clutter for our family of four. In most seasons of our life, this works just fine. However, it’s not an excellent background for video conference calls or for recording video for many reasons. So, where to start? The backdrop.

Backdrop

I am using a 10’x13′ Hand Painted Tie Dye Muslin Backdrop to cover the remainder of our basement while giving a clean backdrop.

Muslin Backdrop

I picked up a Heavy-Duty Oak Closet Pole from Home Depot to hold the backdrop up. I screwed in some short 2x4s to hold up both ends. This strategy was successful in blocking the background. However, there was some light bleeding through from lights behind the backdrop. So, I found a moving blanket that we had leftover in our basement. You can find something like it here.

Moving Blanket

Some Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps helped hold up the moving blanket.

Muslin Clamp

Of course, you could leave out the closet pole and clamp the backdrop to the wood supporting the floor above.

Lighting

As you could see from the picture above, our basement is pretty dark. Some months ago, I had purchased a set of 60 LED Portable Light Lamps for Table Top Photo Studio. I set these on the desk for use during video conference calls.

Video Conference Lighting

This set up gave plenty of light, but this close they gave some harsh shadows. I was looking around our basement to find something that could soften the light. I found a couple of Sweater Drying Racks. I took them apart and repurposed the fabric to create a makeshift softbox.

Softbox

It works well in the limited space at the desktop. A 4 Foot LED Shop Light hangs from the ceiling and supplements the light. It’s a rough attempt at three-point lighting.

Work Light

Recording Video

When I want to record a video, I find it a bit easier to speak while standing. For this, I move the lights to the top of the desk.

Video Lighting

With a bit more distance from the light, the shadows aren’t nearly as harsh and still provide plenty of light. I use a 4-Section Tripod Kit along with a Universal Smartphone Clamp.

Smartphone Tripod Clamp

Though, I may try out using the Mini Tripod Kit with Universal Smartphone Clamp on the top shelf of the desk. Your space will help determine what works best.

This and That

I added a few pieces of decor to help fill the frame in a video conference call. You can still tell that it is a concrete wall, yet it softens the space a bit. Online video production is all supported with high-speed internet delivered through our eero Pro mesh WiFi system. It provides solid delivery of data from our cable internet connection to devices throughout our house.

WiFi Router and Cable Modem

While the circumstances are not what I would hope for, I have found joy in the creativity that I have discovered. Without the need for social distancing, this desk would have remained stacked with stuff. My occasional video conference call from home would have been from our kitchen table because the light is better, but not fantastic, in that space.

Feel free to use whatever is helpful and make it better in your context.

Take a look at the video below to review post and see some video produced in this space.

Mediation, Protocol, Grace, and Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church

So, it’s not often that the United Methodist Church makes national and local news. However, you or your friends may have read or seen something over the weekend that raised some questions for you. I want to make sure that you are informed and can respond well to people who bring up the topic.

On Friday, the Council of Bishops shared a press release – United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation – which included a document that sought to resolve some of our denomination’s differences and would result in a split of the global United Methodist Church

I encourage you to take a look at the original document – Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (PDF) as well as the Frequently Asked Questions. I find this document noteworthy because it was unanimously agreed upon by persons from across the theological spectrum. While some news reports may lead you to believe that this is already approved, it is not. The United Methodist Church makes decisions as a global denomination every four years at a meeting called General Conference. This document will lead to one of many proposals that will come before the General Conference, which meets this May in Minnesota.

For me, it is clear to me that we must welcome all people into the entire life of the church. I want to serve in a church that does not have any restrictions or limitations for LGBTQ persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I also want to live in a church in which there is space for people who disagree. While I am not excited about an amicable separation, I believe that what is proposed by the protocol may be the best option for our denomination at this time. I trust that God’s Holy Spirit continues to help individuals and organizations make progress toward the perfect love of God and neighbor.

I have had conversations with people connected with Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church, who are both more progressive and more traditional regarding these questions. There are people with theological differences present each Sunday in worship. Being able to worship and seek God together is part of what I love about this church. We are trying to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to the scriptures and devoted to our tradition as Methodists. We desire to be a diverse community of faith, where God’s love is in action.

One of our all-church goals this year is to implement a series of educational and engagement activities to inform the congregation regarding LGBTQ issues and proposals coming before the UMC at the 2020 General Conference so that we can clarify the congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion. With that in mind, I want to make three invitations to you.

First, starting Sunday morning, February 16, we are offering a study called Faithful and Inclusive – the Bible, Sexuality, and The United Methodist Church. This course provides a perspective on understanding how United Methodists can be both obedient to God’s Word and fully welcoming to LGBTQ persons in the church. This six-session resource has been designed for participants to develop their perspectives on the Bible’s passages related to homosexuality. We will be going through this study as a large group with small group discussions. If your Sunday School class would like to pause during these weeks to be part of the study, I invite you to do so. If you are not part of a Sunday school class and would like to be part of the study, I invite you to do so.

Second, I encourage you to read the mediation protocol [link]. This document is the actual product of the mediation process. You can download a copy here or pick up a printed copy at the church.

Finally, I encourage you to be generous and kind with each other – both those with whom you agree and those with whom you disagree.

Would you like to be part of the conversation at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church to clarify our congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion? Do you have more questions or concerns? I would be glad to share a conversation with you. You can call the church or email me directly at andrew@swumc.org to share your interest in helping our congregation make progress.

Pastoral Transition Tools – Transition Timeline

I have come to understand that the planning and execution of a pastoral transition can make a significant difference in the fruitfulness of both a pastor and congregation in the months ahead. There are a number of resources that I have used to develop tools which I have used in transition. You can find these and more of my writing on pastoral transitions here. Also, I commend these books to you that I have found to be helpful during a pastoral transition (Amazon affiliate links):

This is a draft timeline of key events in the farewell process for the congregation and outgoing pastor. It is compiled from the resources above and from my own experience. While each event may not be appropriate for every setting, I hope that you find it helpful.

Transition Announcement – As It Occurs

Announce the appointment of the current pastor to serve a new congregation and the appointment of the incoming pastor to serve the current congregation in worship and by email.

Transition Team – 12 Weeks Out

Identify a team that will tend to the transition for about 6 months. It may include members of the staff parish team as well as others. This team will help make these farewell opportunities happen and help create a network of support for the incoming pastor.

Farewell Letter – 10 Weeks Out

The outgoing pastor writes a letter to the congregation to offer care during transition, celebrate time together, and clarifying roles and responsibilities for the months ahead. It may be delivered by email, postal mail, or regular newsletter.

Exit Interview – 9 Weeks Out

The outgoing pastor and staff parish team share an informal conversation about the pastor’s tenure. Create space to share joys, concerns, hurts, blessings, accomplishments, and work left undone. The purpose of this conversation is learning for both congregation and pastor.

Sharing Memories – 8 Weeks Out

Create the opportunity for congregants to share memories of the outgoing pastor and family (if applicable). There may be cards made available to share written memories, invitation to share photos, and / or other items.

Fun Facts – 6 Weeks Out

Begin sharing a few fun facts about the incoming pastor during worship each week to provide additional introduction. This may be done in a fun, light-hearted way.

Farewell Event and Meal – 4 Weeks Out

Create the opportunity for congregation and pastor to share a meal together. It may be a potluck meal. During this time make space for sharing the way that God has been at work during their time together, remembering significant moments, and offer blessings for the future. This event is planned on the Sunday before the pastor’s final Sunday to help make it possible for congregants who may be away to participate in farewell events.

“Pass the Mantle” in Worship – 3 Weeks Out

As one of the final acts of worship on the outgoing pastor’s final Sunday, the pastor offers a tangible item to a lay leader. It may be placed in the sanctuary as a visible sign of pastoral transition. The item could be something, such as, a study bible, cup and plate for communion, stole, or other sign of the pastoral role.

First Sunday for Incoming Pastor – 0 Weeks Out

During worship, the incoming pastor may receive the item left in the sanctuary by the outgoing pastor.

Pastoral Transition Tools – Pastor to Pastor Debrief

I have come to understand that the planning and execution of a pastoral transition can make a significant difference in the fruitfulness of both a pastor and congregation in the months ahead. There are a number of resources that I have used to develop tools which I have used in transition. You can find these and more of my writing on pastoral transitions here. Also, I commend these books to you that I have found to be helpful during a pastoral transition (Amazon affiliate links):

The Pastor to Pastor Debrief occurs between the outgoing and incoming pastor. There are a number of questions, practicalities, and knowledge about the workings of the congregation that can be incredibly helpful to pass from one pastor to the next. Here is an outline of a Pastor to Pastor Debrief that I have used as a guide during my pastoral transitions. It is compiled from the resources above and some additions of my own. While every question may not be appropriate for every setting, this provides an outline to cover some of the most important topics. Enjoy!

Worship

  • Particular traditions and styles
  • Attendance trends
  • Recent controversies
  • Preaching style
  • Time issues
  • Important traditions
  • Seasonal variations
  • Special services
  • Who is involved in planning worship?
  • Are any new services being planned?
  • What is the role of clergy and laity during worship?
  • What is the role of children and youth in worship?
  • Is there children’s worship during the main worship services?
  • Is there a children’s message in the service? If so, who is responsible for the children’s message?
  • How is the bulletin and / or presentation prepared? Who is involved? What is the timleine for completion each week?
  • How does the church conduct the sacraments? When is communion offered and by what means?
  • Are tehre ecumenical community worship events? When?

Grow

  • Adult education / formation programs
  • Children’s education / formation programs
  • Youth education / formation programs
  • Important new programs that need support
  • Older programs that are important
  • Seasonal traditions

Serve

  • Board role
  • Commitee structure
  • Meeting cycles
  • Annual program calendar
  • Report formats
  • Facility issues and policies
  • Keys and access issues
  • Alarm system

Personnel

  • Staff structure
  • Job descriptions
  • Evaluation processes
  • Staff meetings and agenda
  • Staff issues
  • Recent hires and terminations
  • Training and coaching
  • Are any staff positions currently vacant?
  • Are any staff changes needed or expected?

Buildings and Grounds

  • How are building items and maintenance handled? Who orders supplies? Is there a custodian? What are her / his hours?
  • What community groups use the buildgin?

Information Technology

  • Describe the computer network. Is it wireless? Is the pastor provided with a computer? What kind?
  • Does the church have a web page? If so, who maintains it?
  • What are the appropriate passwords the pastor needs to know? How will the pastor’s email be set up?
  • Who knows about the church’s membership and financial software?

Give

  • Fundraising approaches
  • Giving patterns and records
  • Financial trends
  • Financial issues
  • Are there any tenure-bridging financial issue?
  • Are there any tenure-bridging capital issues?
  • What is the normal stewardship process in this church?
  • Who is in charge of promoting stewardship in the church?
  • What is the number of pledging and non-peldging households?
  • What is the average financial contribution of each member family to the church?
  • What is the pastor’s expected role in stewardship campaigns?
  • Does the church have a permanent endowment fund? If so, what is it used for and how is it funded?

Share

  • What is the church’s primary method of communication with its member? What percentage of the church membership uses electronic communication (email, text, interet, etc.)?
  • How often does the church newsletter come out? How is it distributed? What does the pastor need to prepare for the newsletter?
  • How does the church communicate with the community? What kind of advertising does teh church do?

Care

  • Lay care team
  • Names of terminally ill
  • Names of bereaved in last twelve months
  • Patterns of pastoral care
  • What agencies or resources are available for those who may call with needs for emergency food, clothing, shelter, or assistance?
  • What families are currently experiencing loss, illness, or special needs?
  • Who are the homebound members? Is there a regular ministry in place for them?

Pastoral

  • Unusual expectations of pastor
  • Is there a ministerial assocaition in the community? Provide contact information.

Church Climate

  • How warm are church members to one another? To new people?
  • How is the morale in this church?
  • How open is this church to change?
  • What are the significant conflicts in the church?
  • How central is faith to members’ lives?
  • How conservative or liberal is this church?
  • How diverse is this church theologically, ethnically, and demographically?
  • Where are the landmines?

People

  • Who is angry at the church?
  • Who is angry at the pastor?
  • Who are important allies?
  • Who can’t be trusted?
  • Who has an agenda?
  • Who will keep confidences?
  • Who is in danger of burning out?
  • Who is undersused?
  • Who has recently retired?
  • Who are the five most influential persons in the church?
  • Who are the saints?

Documents to Include

  • Copy of the church’s vision / mission statement
  • Most recent minutes of all-church conferences or meetings
  • Church directory, annotated with information about relationships, pastoral care nees, and potential leaders
  • Church email list
  • Organizational chart and list of church lay leaders and committee members
  • Church policies for weddings, funerals, building use, employee handbook, etc.
  • Current and last two years of budget reports
  • Latest month’s financial statement
  • Last three church newsletters
  • Recent bulletins for each worship service
  • Bulletins for most recent Christmas Eve and Easter services, as well as other special services that are routinely part of the church’s life
  • Church keys

The Power of “Good Job”

One of the jewels of the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation system is the Lake Shawnee Trail. Nearly every time I go for a run, I use it in some way. At times, a short loop around Tinman Circle and others around the entire lake with an extension down Berryton Road to reach my target mileage.

Encountering others on the trail is common. Whether it is walkers, bikers, runners, couples, children, or animals, the path is utilized by a wide variety of people. I will make a point to say “Hello” or “Good morning” to people I encounter. It’s about 50-50 on whether I get a response. Some people reply with a similar greeting and others are lost in thought, their headphones, or even a book. Last week, someone greeted me in a way that was new to me.

A smile, thumbs up, and “Good Job!”

Wait, what? This was unexpected. I am glad to get a response, much less cheering on my efforts. There was no way this person could have known my training plan, energy expended, or even how far I was going that particular day. Despite all of these things, the choice of greeting was an encouragement.

Whether it is a colleague with whom you work closely on shared goals, a family member or a random stranger on the path, there is a superpower in offering encouragement to others. Thanks to this encounter, I will be making an effort to provide support to others.

Will you join me?

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Challenges and Opportunities

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

What do you believe are the challenges and opportunities facing the United Methodist Church today?

We face the challenge of demonstrating love for our neighbors in the Great Plains and around the globe in the way that we talk to one another. We have the opportunity to act toward others in ways that we would like others to behave toward us. We face the challenge of a deeply divided global denomination. We have the chance to name our differences, mourn our losses, and meet the future unafraid.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Considering 2019 Special Session

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

In light of the 2019 special session of the General Conference, how do you believe the Church is called to move forward in fulfilling its mission?

We must welcome all people into the entire life of the church. It is time to find calm amid our differences. This could happen in many ways, including:

  • Connectional Conferences – The UMC continues with two or more Central Conferences in the US.
  • Separation – The UMC continues, and either more traditional or more progressive congregations and clergy launch a new connection.
  • Death and Resurrection – The UMC chooses to end its chapter in church history. We celebrate and remember its long and faithful history. We launch two or more new connections to continue to our Wesleyan approach to Christian life.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!