News October 20, 2023

Cover October 22, 2023
Dear Friends and Members,

It is wonderful to finally get to address all of you in the weekly newsletter. When I joined the staff in August of 2019, I didn’t realize at that time how amazing this community was, and how many absolutely WONDERFUL people I have been able to meet here. I feel blessed to be able to make my little contribution to a church with such a meaningful legacy as well as one that has the potential to do so many great things in this city, state, country, and world.  

When I was originally hired, my job was to just assist in the sound during the services.  At that time, I never expected how much my skills as a former theatre and broadcast journalism teacher would soon be utilized! Since then, I have worked with the staff to create the online services during covid quarantine, developed and implemented a livestream system, and helped to improve our sound quality during services.  Now I work full time to create all of the online programs, emails, website updates and general I.T. support.

As many of you know, technology can be a tough element of an organization to wrangle. Some technologies make things easier, while others make things more complicated - often at the same time! Part of my job has been to assist and advise on technologies that we have needed.
I have tried to make sure to keep focused on the goals of First UU Houston while also keeping costs down.

In developing our livestream system in 2021, I knew we needed to have a powerful system that could still deliver the high quality content that we consistently delivered during covid. Luckily, First Unitarian Dallas had just recently upgraded their system. They had an old unit and cameras that we purchased for MUCH cheaper than new equipment would cost. This got us up and running, and things seemed to work great!  There was one problem… this equipment was well over 15 years old! It made quite a racket when running. We were fine, but if the system failed, we would have no way to fix it. This system gave us well over 100 livestreams, but it was time to upgrade.  This past summer we finally purchased a new system and cameras that are much more stable, much higher quality, and also have the ability to add functionality as our livestream requirements grow.  

We also finally installed a listen assist system.  This is the same type of system that many performance and lecture venues around town have.  There are devices available in the office, and many modern hearing aids connect directly to it as well!  This has been a boon for those of us that needed a little help hearing the service.

Looking forward, there are many improvements that we are looking to hopefully implement in the sanctuary.  We want to make sure that ALL of the lights have LED lamps to save energy, but also are able to dim and be controlled from the booth and at the chancel. Also, we are looking in to improving our projection system. Currently, the lights that are directed at the chancel wash out the projection screen, meaning that we cannot use the lights and projection at the same time. Lastly, we want to improve our sound capabilities. Currently we only have 4 microphone plugs on the chancel. We need to be able to plug in more microphones occasionally, and also need to have the ability to plug in monitor speakers for the musicians.

As with many of our prospective improvements to the building we are considering for the upcoming Capital Campaign, it is important that our improvements are “future-proof” and last many years. This way, we can continue to offer ways for our members and friends to connect with each other and their own spirituality. I look forward to continue to meet you. Come say hi after the services!!

Peace and Laughter,

Christian Holmes
A/V and Communications Coordinator