Rochester Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

For nearly 150 years, Rochesterians of different religious traditions have joined together for an Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service. This year, we’ll continue this tradition of coming together and promoting the wellbeing of our broader community by holding our service online on Zoom and Facebook Live.


Rev. Myra Brown of Spiritus Christi will preach.Worship begins at 11:00 am with time for fellowship before and after the service.This year’s online format aims to be our biggest and most inclusive yet. Feel free to invite friends and family of all faiths or no religious affiliation at all to this important community event.

Our own Music Director, David Labman, and Pastor, Brent Bowden will be participating in the service.

Login here or on the home page.

IMPORTANT: Worship Format Change

In order to support the health and safety of the congregation and our wider community we are announcing some changes to our worship format effective Sunday, November 8.

While services will continue to be broadcast from the church sanctuary we are now encouraging all worshipers to attend worship via Zoom from home.

This change will allow us to manage the heightened risk of virus transmission we’re experiencing throughout our community. It will also allow us to keep the volume of in-person participants low enough to allow a small number of persons who are unable to attend digitally to continue joining in person.

If you do not have the option of attending online and would like to attend in person, please let the church office know by 5pm the Thursday prior to the Sunday of your attendance so that we can be prepared for your attendance.

Worship Tech Team Help

The team ensuring a joint online worship experience each Sunday could use a bit of help. Having a few more dedicated persons would create a volunteer rotation so that not everyone is needed every Sunday. While a general understanding of computers would be helpful, no particular experience is needed. All necessary training will be provided. To volunteer, contact pastor Brent.

Hybrid Worship

During the Pandemic, have you become quite familiar with Zoom? Are you capable of navigating your way around a computer – most of the time? Do you want to be part of on-campus worship experience? If you answer yes to any of these questions, we sure could use your help!

We have a small team of individuals who have been trained (some with little to no experience) on making sure our hybrid worship experience works as seamlessly as possible. There are 3 to 4 stations which assist in the hybrid worship process; each one with varying degrees of responsibility and experience needed. One station is in the midst of the congregation but the other three are located in the balcony (with one able to be done from home) which provides as much separation from others as one may desire.

Our goal would be to have enough individuals willing to assist in this task that each would be volunteering no more than 1 to 2 Sundays each month. We really need you. To learn more or to chat about what is involved, please contact Pastor Brent or Janet at the church office.

An Online Congregational Meeting? How?

June 14, following worship.

Go to www.rochesterfbc.org/junemeeting for details.

You may have heard by now that these extraordinary days combined with some extraordinary business at hand have led the FBCR Church Council to take the extraordinary step of scheduling FBCR’s first-ever online congregational meeting. While this is an exciting opportunity allowing us to move ahead with church life that will have a profound positive impact on our community now and when we return to gathering in person, it may also raise a few questions and concerns. I want to take a moment to anticipate some of those concerns and invite you to pose others.

The first and most obvious concern about having an online meeting is the ability for all members of FBCR to have a voice and vote in all matters before us. Those particular matters are spelled out in other notices, but let me detail here how the Church Council is planning to ensure full participation and inclusion. Here are some of the measures we are taking:

  • By using the Zoom platform participants will have 2 choices as to how to join.
    • By electronic device: instructions are available now for those who do not yet know how to use Zoom. Find them here.
    • By phone: dial in using the information and instructions found here.
    • We will be making great effort to identify those who may not typically use either method to work with them to include them in the meeting.
  • During the meeting we will make extra effort to ensure there are redundant checks to ensure no voice goes unheard or vote uncounted.
    • Participants will have the opportunity to “unmute” themselves during times of discussion and offer their voice. The Moderator will help keep the conversation organized.
    • “Co-hosts” of the meeting will scan the participants logged in by camera for a visual signal of problems on the part of participants and will call these to the attention of the Moderator.
    • A live technical assistance hotline will be available during the meeting. The attendant will first notify the moderator of any issues that arise then help resolve the issues so the meeting will not move on without that participant’s voice.
    • Votes of those present by video will be by hand signal and recorded for the record. Votes by phone will be taken by modified voice vote and recorded.
    • In the event anyone has trouble logging on or being heard or counted and is unable to make that known during the meeting, results will not be acted upon for 24 hours after the meeting. Would-be participants should report those issues and their results (inability to register yea/nay vote; unable to raise a particular point or question in discussion) by email to the office email or by phone at (585)244-2468.
  • In order to ensure that all decisions are reflective of the will and wisdom of the congregation items not reaching a clear consensus will be revisited at a later date under the discretion and guidance of the Church Council.

The Church Council believes that with diligence in notification and meeting procedures these measures will ensure a thoughtful process and yield an actionable recognition of the will of the congregation.

Should you have concerns not addressed herein, please direct them to me or to Moderator, Tasha Wilson, using the contact information in the church directory. If you do not have a directory, please request one by calling (585)244-2468.

See you all on June 14 (and a time or two before).

-Pastor Brent

P.S.

The requisite notification by physical mail will go out shortly. However, as our staff are working from home this requires extra effort on their part. In order to support their wellbeing and streamline the process, please consider opting out of a physical notification of this meeting by going here and filling out a very simple form.

Recent Zoom issues (do you need an update?)

On Sunday there were issues with Zoom worldwide and our worship portal was affected along with many others in many locations. We apologize to anyone who tried to get into worship but couldn’t as we attempted to work around the issue. Suggestions for you if you had any problems.

  1. Download the Zoom update. (Make sure you have the latest update or you will be forced to download before May 30). When you open Zoom, if you have not updated yet, it will ask you to do so. You should follow their prompted instructions.
  2. Once this update is complete, restart your computer.
  3. Sign-in again to the worship-online through www.rochesterfbc.org. There are several links to do so on the Home Page and through the Navigation Bar.

If you can not get into the online worship (or Wednesday check-in):

  1. You should try to refresh the website on your browser by pressing the circle with the arrow. This will update any links which may have been changed.
  2. Wait 5 to 10 minutes and try the worship-online portal again. You may wish to refresh once more.
  3. You might also wish to try to get into worship a little early, so if there are any problems you can resolve them before worship begins. You can always mute your microphone and turn off your video until you are ready to actively participate in worship.

We will post issues and updates on the worship-online page of our website so you are aware if we experience problems in the future.

For technical assistance, call the church office at 585-244-2468. on Sunday or Wednesday to get assistance. Someone is generally available to take your call. If we do not answer, leave a message. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, when major occurrences happen, the call back may be delayed.

Coffee Hour following worship on Sunday

While Zoom isn’t the mode we would all prefer to go about our togetherness, we have recognized how powerful it is as a stand-in for physical shared space. On Sunday we are going to experiment with an opportunity to mitigate one of Zoom’s shortcoming. Stick around after worship and enjoy a time of fellowship in small-groups via Zoom. Smaller groups will allow more meaningful and distraction-free conversation. Don’t worry, there is no more learning curve or technology needed from the user end. We’ll explain how it works during the service Sunday. For now, just plan to stick around for a while after church.

Giving Statements Emailed

You should have received your giving statement by email yesterday if an email is on file with the church or by mid-May if it must be sent through the post office. We ask that you check your statement thoroughly. This statement will cover contributions deposited from January 1 through April 30, 2020.

Since our staff is working from home, the church mail is either being forwarded to them or picked up once a week at the church. Deposits are made weekly or bi-weekly, depending on need. The handling of mail and deposits is minimized to help ensure the safety of our staff during these days.

To ensure that every donation sent has been properly processed, we ask that you check your statement carefully. If you see anything you do not understand or does not appear as you expect it, you may either send an email to the church at or give us a call at (585) 244-2468. The phones are being answered by a staff member from home each day from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

The last deposit for the month of April was made on the afternoon of April 28, 2020. Any checks received for the last two days of the month will be applied to the month of May 2020. Thank you for your help and for supporting the mission and ministry of the First Baptist Church of Rochester.

Zoom Security Issues and FBCR’s Response

You may have heard that Zoom, the platform we’re using for online worship and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of online meetings has had a bit of bad press for security issues. We want you to know that we have checked and will continue to check all potential issues we are made aware of to ensure that all worshipers, meeting participants, and their devices are safe and secure to set your mind at ease here are some of the issues we know about and why we feel confident in our security.

“Zoombombing”

While it may sound violent, at its heart “Zoombombing” is the same thing as “Photobombing” only in a digital meeting environment. Someone logs in to a meeting uninvited and makes a scene of the place.

Why it matters.

Most “Zoombombing” is good-natured practical joking or even edifying opportunities for strangers to share a little random love in the midst of a dark time. Some is darker in nature. There have been reports of people logging in to meetings and acting or speaking lewdly to the participants. This could be unsettling at best and harmful at worst.

What we’re doing about it.

Every meeting has at least one “host”. During worship we have at least 2 “hosts” each of whom have the ability and authority to remove participants from meetings. While we will never remove any person for any reason other than lewd or damaging behavior, we are ready to ensure the content of our times together online remain edifying through the use of the “remove” button.

“Hacking” into web cams

This isn’t actually a flaw of Zoom, but of the cameras we use to show ourselves on Zoom. This threat is universal for all devices that have built-in cameras or external cameras whether attached wirelessly or with a cord.

Why it matters

Hackers have the ability to engage web cams remotely without their indicator light coming on. This would allow them a view into the room where your camera is without your knowing they’re there.

What you can do about it

While this “hack” is frightening and somewhat frequent relative to other kinds of attacks it also fortunately very easy to prevent. If you have a web cam at your house simply make sure that it is disconnected, powered completely off, or covered with a physical mask of some kind when not in use. A piece of masking tape over the lens is a low-budget, highly effective measure. So is simply unplugging your external camera or closing your laptop. If you camera is physically disconnected or covered hackers cannot see into your home.

Security Issues

There is founded concern that Zoom could leave one’s computer or device vulnerable to intrusion from outside.

Why it matters

We use all kinds of data on our devices and much of it is necessarily private, (passwords, banking data, family photos, correspondence, etc). The worry is that Zoom could leave our computers vulnerable to access from those who would use such data to benefit themselves as our expense.

What is being done about it

While major companies have reason for more caution when employees use Zoom to discuss sensitive information, we are not entirely immune, so we’re proceeding with caution. We will continue to learn more about how to protect church assets and those of our worshipers and meeting attendees. At the moment we do not believe any critical information is at risk, nor do we (or will we ever) share such information via Zoom. The only information we tend to exchange via Zoom is scripture, its interpretation, times of good fellowship, and some really fantastic music. We’d be more than happy for these things to be stolen and shared broadly.

Additionally Zoom has announced today the hire of a new Chief Security Officer with a proven record of success to help them address existing issues.

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Online Worship Login Issues and Fixes

This post has information about logging in to Zoom. For information about security issues you may have heard about with Zoom, see that post.

Last weekend Zoom, the online meeting platform we’re using for worship, changed a critical policy on Saturday that impacted login capability for several would-be worshipers. While late night efforts to correct the situation on our end were successful for those who logged in through the church web site, some who called in by phone were unable to get through. Our most sincere apologies for that.

After arriving at a workable solution and just before communicating that solution to the congregation at large Zoom reversed their policy change and the function of logging on to worship or our Wednesday Evening Check In time has returned to its original state.

In order to avoid these problems again in the future:

  • In order to assure that login credentials are up to date please always login through the church website or use the up-to-date call-in information in one of the following locations:
    • For phone or internet
      • www.rochesterfbc.org/checkin
      • www.rochesterfc.org/worship-online
    • For internet only
      • Using the links in the main navigation bar on any page.
  • If you ever have technical issues you may reach out to Daryl Hunt or Scott McClellan using the contact information in your church directory. You may also simply reach out to the church office and we will connect you with them.
  • If you have trouble logging in at the time of worship your call to the church office at 585.244.2468 will be immediately answered by one of our technical help volunteers to assist you.

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