Tool Kit for Congregation Viewing Party
Welcome and thank you for hosting a Town Hall Forum viewing party. We hope you will find this a unique, informative and enjoyable experience. The forum is an exciting way to learn how your very own congregation is a vital part of the ELCA. Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world.
Town Hall Forums are an important tool to help inform people about emerging issues, gauge where a community stands and identify themes and areas of interest.
Since 2009 the ELCA has conducted online forums featuring the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA. Viewers watch the live, hour-long event at http://www.elca.org/townhall with an opportunity to submit questions for the bishop. Joined by an audience of ELCA members, Bishop Hanson uses the forum as a way to engage in conversation with ELCA members and share his hopes and priorities for this church. In addition to asking questions of the presiding bishop, participants share stories about their congregation's life-changing mission and ministries.
Community is built in town hall forums, and we're glad you've considered hosting a viewing party.
Identify a host and/or small committee to plan, manage and promote the event. This person and/or committee will need to think about the following:
Venue for hosting the party such as fellowship hall, a classroom, sanctuary or someone's home.
Making the viewing space hospitable and enjoyable. Serve refreshments, arrange a potluck or invite participants to share their favorite dessert.
Inviting members of your congregation and folks in your neighborhood or community, family and friends. The Town Hall Forum is a great way to introduce the ELCA to those who don't have a church home or for those curious about the ELCA.
What will you need electronically to maximize the viewing experience? Please note that broadband Internet access (cable or high-speed DSL) is required.
For churches with a dedicated A/V system:
If you have projectors, screens and a soundboard or audio system, you may already have a computer connected to your system. In this case, simply visit http://www.elca.org/townhall
and maximize the video by pressing the full screen button in the lower right-hand corner of the video player. If you have no dedicated computer to your A/V system, you will need to connect one to the projector via the VGA port found on your computer. You can get audio from the computer via the audio out ports or headphone minijack, depending on your computer.
For churches with access to an LCD Projector:
A clean white sheet or large blank will make a great screen to watch the forum. Simply attach your VGA projector to the computer as you would for presenting a PowerPoint presentation by connecting the VGA cable from projector to the VGA port of the computer. You will also need speakers large enough for your setting. These can be attached to the computer via the audio out ports or the headphone minijack, depending on your computer. Visit the forum's website and maximize the video by pressing the full screen button in the lower right-hand corner of the video player.
For groups who want to view on a television or monitor:
If you do not have access to a VGA projector, the most economical way to host a viewing party would be to show the forum on a television. You can accomplish this by using a PC to TV Converter. This box converts the VGA signal from the PC to an AV signal that TVs use. You can find one at an electronics store for around $40. All the cables and instructions are included.
Tip: If available, use a separate computer with Internet access to submit questions. Select the hardwire Internet connection over the wireless one.
If you have questions, please send an e-mail to email@example.com at the ELCA churchwide office. While there is diversity in what technology can offer and congregational resources, not all scenarios are covered here.
Think about how you will invite members of the church, community, family and friends. To help your efforts:
- Download this customizable bulletin insert
(in English ; en español).
- Ask your pastor to provide announcements on Sunday mornings.
- Be sure to include a notice about the forum in your congregation's newsletter and website.
- Make phone calls and invite folks personally.
- If your congregation has a Facebook page, set up an event where members can RSVP and invite them to share the link with friends.
Please remember to invite your congregation's youth groups, college and university students and encourage them to invite their friends. All are welcome!
Consider how your community will submit questions during the forum. Please keep in mind that the forum is an unscripted, live event. Questions are collected and posed to the presiding bishop in real-time.
It's best to log in during the forum's "warm up" period, which is 30 minutes prior to the start of the event. Enter your question during this time and include the questioner's name, congregation, city and state. Do this for each question submitted. To submit a question, visit http://www.elca.org/townhall
on the ELCA's website.
The Town Hall Forum is your opportunity to learn more about this church in an intimate, informal setting. What do you want to know about the work of the presiding bishop? About the ELCA? Is there a specific ministry you'd like to know more about? Need an update? The presiding bishop is eager and ready to field your questions.
Use social media
opportunities to enhance your experience. Some participants may want to follow chat on Facebook or tweet about event (#ELCA).
Social media platforms are a wonderful way for more active engagement and conversation. You can follow the ELCA on Facebook and Twitter at http://www.elca.org/townhall
TIP: If participants want to use social media platforms, consider how you will help them get "plugged in." Are there plenty of outlets in the viewing space? Is WiFi or another Internet connection available?
Consider these "conversation starters" to facilitate discussion after the forum. Participants of the viewing party may want to talk about the experience. Encourage members of your party to share with one another in a respectful and welcoming way.
Questions to start the conversation:
- Did you learn something new about the ELCA?
- What topic or question was of most interest to you and why?
- Did you find Bishop Hanson's responses to questions helpful in your understanding of the church?
- Are there ways that your congregation can implement the content of the forum in its mission and ministry?
- Identify some next steps for your congregation to continue conversation and plan for the next forum.
The host should offer a welcome and introduction to the forum. Share a brief explanation about how the group will spend it's time together. Be sure to ask and field questions from your viewing party.
Experience the town hall forum.
Remember that the best time to submit a question is during the forum's "warm up" period, which is 30 minutes prior to the event. Be sure to enter your question at this time and remember to include the questioner's name, congregation, city and state.
After the forum, invite participants to a conversation. Use the conversation starter as a platform to begin conversation.
Thank everyone for their participation and contributions. Invite participants to visit http://www.elca.org/townhall for transcripts in English and Spanish. You can also view images, watch previous town hall webcasts and learn when to tune-in again.
While this tool kit is designed to help you plan a successful town hall viewing party, it is a work in progress. We need your help. Please share with us your overall experience in planning a Town Hall viewing party, as well as information or tips that would help strengthen this tool kit. Input and feedback from congregations is of tremendous value to our team.
- Did you find this took kit helpful?
- Did we overlook something critical to your planning?
- Was the forum a positive experience for you and your congregation?
- Is there anything staff at the ELCA churchwide organization should keep in mind when planning future forums?
- Would you host viewing parties in the future?
Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your suggestions and questions. Thank you for your support and participation.