What’s St. Dunstan’s Zoom worship like?

Churches have moved online in different ways during the coronavirus pandemic. Some have focused on broadcasting a service that looks somewhat like “normal church.” Some have focused on small group fellowship and study. Some have moved to interactive platforms originally built for meeting and collaboration across locations, to create gatherings with both worship and fellowship components.

St. Dunstan’s has taken that path, using a platform called Zoom to gather for worship (though we may add both broadcast and small-group options in future, if there is interest). A few voices lead the service, while others are invited to read and sing along at home.  (Most people are “muted” most of the time, because platforms like Zoom can’t handle many voices at once.)  There are also moments when anyone can speak, like during the prayers, sometimes in response to a Scripture or sermon, or during “coffee hour” at the end.

Zoom allows people to participate at the level they feel comfortable (much like when we gather in our building). You can volunteer to help lead worship, read a lesson, or provide a musical or art offering. You can share a prayer request out loud or in the Chat area. You can mute yourself and turn off your video, and just listen and observe, if you prefer. It’s OK to feel your way in and decide how you’d like to be present.

The purpose of this page is to help you know what to expect if you choose to join us for Zoom church. The details of our gatherings (our prayers, songs, readings, etc.) will change over time, just as they do when we’re worshiping in the building, and we may develop new customs in our Zoom worship as well. But this should give you a taste!

Visitors and newcomers are always welcome. We don’t post our Zoom worship links publicly to discourage hostile “Zoom-bombing“, but if you email , she’ll be glad to share our upcoming links. Links are also posted weekly in our private Facebook group, St. Dunstan’s MadCity. If we don’t know you, it’s best to send a message or email as well so we know you’re a real person with good intentions.

Here’s a look at how our worship begins. People usually chat a little as they log in to Zoom. Then Rev. Miranda does a short welcome and orientation. Then we begin with a prayer and a hymn..

We’ll continue with a couple of readings from Scripture, then Rev. Miranda or someone else offers a sermon. When we’re meeting in the building, sermons are usually spoken from the front of the church, but we’re learning that Zoom is conducive to other kinds of sharing too – looking at art together, for example. 

We take some time to pray together. People share individual prayer requests and thanksgivings out loud and in the Chat area. (It’s also fine to keep your prayers in your heart!)

Then we usually end with some closing prayers, another song, and some time to visit.

Recognizing that we will be worshiping online, at least in part, for many months, we’re continuing to develop our patterns of worship, seeking ways to make what we do on Zoom help connect us with God, with holy story and purpose, with one another, and with our own deep selves. Your ideas and questions are always welcome!

6205 University Ave., Madison WI

St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church