The Living Flame service team is most pleased to let the Contemplative Outreach Chapters know that the Living Flame program is alive and well on Zoom. We currently have three Chapters – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Iceland and Portland, Oregon – well underway using Zoom. The Chicago Chapter is beginning the Living Flame 2 in January 2021, and the Indianapolis Chapter is completing theirs in January and February 2021.
What a thrill it has been for our team and for the chapters participating to realize that the teachings and the community building that are keys to the original inspiration of the Living Flame program can still be attained through the virtual format. Although the chapter participants certainly miss being able to meet face to face and interact with the presenters in person, the Zoom Living Flame seems to be the next best thing during this time of social distancing. Some presenters and participants report that they were pleasantly surprised by the closeness they felt to the group even on the first day.
There have been challenges, of course, but the chapters appear to be up-to-the-challenge. Here are some pointers that the current chapters are sharing to help make the Living Flame sessions as beneficial as possible, and also to help chapters in deciding whether doing Living Flame on Zoom is something they might be interested in.
- Have a person (perhaps two persons) on your team well versed in using Zoom for presentations. There will be challenges in the beginning and chapters found that having a “dry run” with the presenters and the participants prior to start the series was very helpful. Our Contemplative Outreach Living Flame team is learning more and more about the Zoom process and can help; but it is really necessary to have local facilitators that can guide the program along.
- Learn about the features within Zoom technology that allow for small group interaction in “break-out rooms,” and for presenters to screen-share in order to use power-point presentations and/or share their notes.
- Understand that all the components of the in-person Living Flame day are included in the Zoom schedule; these are speaker presentations, periods of Centering Prayer, large and small group interaction time, as well as question and answer time with the presenter. The actual time of the day has been shortened somewhat to prevent computer fatigue.
The Living Flame service team is open to questions from any chapter interested in hosting Living Flame 1. New programs can begin next summer or fall in 2021. We will continue to determine when it might be safe to offer them in-person again but our thinking now is that we will continue to offer both the in-person Living Flame and the Zoom option in the future.
Marilyn Webb and the Living Flame Service Team