Oops: Excessive buffering during the service

In this morning’s service a few people noticed that their connection was having to buffer more than usual, and that the quality of the video and audio kept fluctuating. This blog post takes a quick look at what happened, why it happened, and what we’re doing to fix it.

What happened?

The internet connection to the church wasn’t capable of sustaining the speeds needed for smooth streaming of video. This meant that people watching would see the video stutter or sometimes pause entirely.

Why did this happen?

We’re not sure. The path to get an internet connection into the church is a relatively complex one compared to what you might have at home, involving several points where things might slow down. We weren’t able to quickly identify what was wrong during the service.

What are we doing to fix it?

There are two problems we’re fixing:

Making sure we can stream services

We’re reducing the threshold at which we decide to use a backup mobile connection to stream services. It’s difficult to change our connection mid-service (although we can in an emergency), so for the time being we’ll be using our backup connection unless we’re absolutely certain our main one is behaving as expected.

Making sure the internet connection to the church is stable

We’ve put some extra monitoring in place to see if we can narrow down which bit of the chain is at fault and then investigate further, but since the problem doesn’t appear all the time it might take us a few weeks before we’re able to properly identify it.

Depending on where the problem lies the solution could be as simple as a quick configuration change, might need replacement hardware for our network, or might need us to involve our connection provider.

The nature of a service

One of the trickiest bits of continuing to provide worship during the pandemic has been getting to grips with how we define “a service”. This might seem like a pretty clear-cut thing on the surface – it’s a time when we come together to worship, and there’s a set of words which are said.

When we were able to worship together, this was pretty easy to manage. We had an entry in the calendar so we knew when services were, there was a rota so we knew who was responsible for things, and we had some orders of service that people could follow.

And then the world turned upside down, and we found ourselves delivering almost every single aspect of our services in a whole new way. Most of these relied on some form of technology, and since we had to throw things together in a hurry what we ended up with was a bit of a tangled mess.

Continue reading “The nature of a service”

To all parishes in the Diocese of Leeds

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are living through challenging and extraordinary times. The church, committed to the real world and the communities in which we are set, has continued to worship and serve despite the restrictions. Given the nature of the virus, it will be some time before we emerge into something resembling ‘normality’. We have to be clear and honest about that.

Thank you for both the remarkable ways you have continued to be the church … in the world … even if the buildings had to be closed for a long time. I want to say one or two things to encourage you, building on material you might have seen on the diocesan website or had passed to you from letters I have written to the clergy.

Inhabiting the Scriptures

Lockdown and our attempts to innovate ways of worshipping together have been experienced by many as a sort of ‘exile’. In the Old Testament prophets (such as Isaiah) we see people exiled to a strange land where nothing is familiar. All that shaped their life and worship had been stripped away. They lamented the loss of their familiar life (and what this said about God and them); they tried to come to terms with the present realities; and they then began to look forward to shaping a different future.

This time in our life enables us to re-read the biblical experience afresh – so much of the Bible was written by and for people whose normality was uncertainty and fragility. This also accords with the daily experience of most Christians around the world, including those in our link dioceses in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Pakistan. Let’s not waste the opportunity to learn anew how to live with uncertainty, aware of our own limitations and fragility.

Being the church

The Church of England has a unique vocation in and for England: we are committed to particular places. We are called to pray for those in our parishes, to be the answer to our prayers when appropriate, to love and serve those in need, to care for the sick and to support those who mourn, and reach out with the good news of God’s grace. We have been doing all this – and will continue to do so into the future. We know we are not always strong, but God is and we trust in him … whatever comes our way.

Emergence

We don’t know what the future church might look like in every place, but we do have a role in shaping it. There will be things we need to let go of and new ways of being that are being discovered or yet to be discovered. We will emerge at different paces over the coming months and care needs to be taken over how and when we open our buildings and hold onto the new forms we have learned recently. Church House is providing detailed and digested guidance at every step, but your archdeacon and area bishop are there to be consulted for any support as we move forward.

Encouragement and challenge

I mainly want to thank and encourage you. We will face big questions – nationally as well as in our diocese – about finance and buildings, threats and opportunities. But, as a diocese we are confident and well set up to face these. Indeed, we have been doing just this since our creation in April 2014; so, this isn’t a new challenge. You can be confident that we will deal with the challenges of the months ahead with confidence in God, confidence in the Gospel, confidence in our clergy and lay leaders, confidence in our unique vocation as a church to worship and serve God together.

So, be encouraged. Use the resources available to you in the diocese and parish. Pray simply and hopefully, knowing that God is never surprised.

And please be assured of the prayers of your bishops and archdeacons, the deans and area deans, our lay staff at Church House and all who are committed to you. May God bless you in all you are and do. I look forward to the time when we can be together again, physically and in person.

In Christ.

Rt Revd Nick Baines
Bishop of Leeds

Carillon

In September 2017, Giles (the Director of Music here at Whitkirk) read an article by the composer Professor Philip Wilby in a Royal School of Church Music publication. In this article, Philip Wilby wrote about an event called Ripon Cathedral New Music Week, which was to take place in May 2018.

It was to be a celebration of fifty years of new music, and during the week-long event the regular services at the Cathedral were to include not only liturgical music written by established contemporary composers, but also would encourage the submission of new compositions with any successful new scores being prepared for performance and recording.

Giles and others at Ripon Cathedral for the Choral Evensong on the 13 May.

Giles submitted an organ solo that he had composed called Carillon and was later delighted to be told that the assessment panel wished to include it as part of Ripon Cathedral New Music Week. Giles’s piece was chosen as the organ voluntary for a service of Choral Evensong held at the Cathedral on Sunday 13 May 2018 and as one of the pieces that were played for a Ripon Cathedral Lunchtime Concert on Thursday 17 May 2018.

Giles’ organ solo Carillon was published in November 2019 by Tim Knight Music.